|Periodical display shelves, Reference Area, Gallagher Law Library|
Liptak cites these studies:
- Richard A. Wise et al., What Do U.S. Law Professors, Student Editors, Attorneys, and Judges Think about U.S. Law Reviews and the Need for Reform?, 59 Loy. L. Rev. 1 (2013), available at GSTF Digital Library, HeinOnline
- Albert Yoon, Editorial Bias in Legal Academia, J. Legal Analysis (forthcoming), available at SSRN.
- Brent E. Newton, Law Review Scholarship in the Eyes of the Twenty-First-Century Supreme Court Justices: An Empirical Analysis, 4 Drexel L. Rev. 399 (2012)
For some defenses of law reviews, see this post.
How would switching from student editing to peer review or peer review with peer editing change the law review process? Here are a couple of thoughts.
Typically, authors submit papers to a couple of dozen journals at a time, so multiple sets of student editors are all looking at them at once. In a peer review systems, journals would insist on papers being submitted to only one journal at a time. So a professor who is used to getting a few offers within weeks of submission might instead wait for a couple of months while the peer reviewers go over his or her paper and write critiques. The editors would then decide whether to run it as is, ask for revisions, or pass. If they pass, then the author would start the process again with another journal. So publication might be slower.
Labor and costs:
The traditional model burns a lot of student hours, as they make publication decisions then gather sources, edit, and check citations. This is justified in part by the educational benefits of journal editorship. The students put great care into their work out of commitment, passion for their topics, and pride in the product.
Peer review depends on having many willing faculty members to read and comment on submissions. Professors in other fields are used to this, but it hasn't been part of the culture of law schools. What would law professors give up doing in order to make time to write thoughtful critiques of strangers' papers? Peer editing requires faculty editors who will do the editorial work as a service to the profession or for a small stipend. (Some might be able to get reduced teaching loads to make time for editing duties.) If the faculty editors want to hire RAs to do the more tedious work, how much will they have to pay? Law reviews have traditionally been a bargain among scholarly publications; paying editors and assistants could drive up the price. A lot.
For a wide range of information about law reviews, including the submission process, ranking, and more, see Writing for & Publishing in Law Reviews.