Last Writes? Re-Assessing the Law Review in the Age of Cyberspace

74 Pages Posted: 23 May 2011

See all articles by Bernard J. Hibbitts

Bernard J. Hibbitts

University of Pittsburgh - School of Law

Date Written: 1996


This article - the original version of which was published on the author’s website in February 1996, possibly making it the first scholarly article posted online by a law professor before print publication - undertakes a comprehensive re-assessment of the law review from the perspective of the present age of cyberspace. In Part I, I investigate the conditions that initially joined to generate the form, showing how the law review emerged in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries as the product of the fortuitous interaction of academic circumstances and improvements in publishing technology. In Part II, I trace the course that criticism of the law review has taken since the institution's debut, showing how criticisms have grown in number, range and intensity to the point of their current crescendo; I explore why various criticisms arose when they did, and evaluate erstwhile (and, as it turns out, largely failed) attempts at reforming the law review system for the benefit of its academic and professional constituencies. In Part III, I examine how new computer-mediated communications technologies embodied in WESTLAW, LEXIS, and the Internet's so-called "electronic journals" have subtly begun to change and improve the law review system, even if those particular services do not and cannot cure the system's more profound ills. In Part IV, I offer a "modest proposal" that scholars publish their own legal scholarship directly online - in central or distributed archives, or on their own institutional or individual websites. In the Conclusion to this article, I consider what legal scholars, law school Deans and faculties, the Association of American Law Schools and even the editors of law reviews themselves might do to accelerate or at least accommodate the transition to the proposed system of electronic self-publication.

Keywords: law reviews, legal publishing, scholarly publishing, Internet, World Wide Web, self-publishing, electronic archives

JEL Classification: K19

Suggested Citation

Hibbitts, Bernard J., Last Writes? Re-Assessing the Law Review in the Age of Cyberspace (1996). New York University Law Review, Vol. 71, pp. 615-688, 1996, U. of Pittsburgh Legal Studies Research Paper, Available at SSRN:

Bernard J. Hibbitts (Contact Author)

University of Pittsburgh - School of Law ( email )

3900 Forbes Ave.
Pittsburgh, PA 15260
United States
412-648-2360 (Phone)
412-648-2648 (Fax)


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