The Value of Legal Writing, Law Review, and Publication
80 Pages Posted: 27 Sep 2014 Last revised: 16 Sep 2018
Date Written: November 10, 2014
While highly developed communication skills contribute substantially to success in other professions and in our personal relationships, legal research and writing is likely the foundation for a successful career in the law. Law review articles are cited by judges in their opinions, by Congress and regulatory authorities in the making of law, and regulations and policy. Any great legal orator, litigator, or Supreme Court Justice will need the benefit of quickly recognizing legally significant fact patterns, the ability to conduct research regarding statutory and case law, and the ability to make compelling, cogent legal arguments. The experience gained from legal research and writing sharpens all these tools.
I’m hopeful this article may become a required-reading as one of the first assignments for all incoming first-year law students, or even before any classes begin. Presented first is a brief examination of why lawyers do not write well. Second, is a description of the law review: its value; a brief history of the American law journal experience; the editor selection process; who does what at law reviews; and the number and type of law journals. Thoughts about the writing process and important considerations regarding law review writing in particular are then presented. Reflections by recent law journal editors about their law review experiences are offered, along with suggestions about how authors may improve their manuscripts. Following that, the who, what, where and when of the publication process is covered. Comments about the Social Sciences Research Network (SSRN) are presented, then followed by a brief discussion about the currency value of citations. I believe this article starts a fresh conversation about the importance and value of legal writing, law review, and law journal publication.
Keywords: academic legal publishing, BePress, bluebook, citations, editing, Google Scholar, HeinOnline, legal education, law journals, open access, Publish or Perish, research and writing, reviews, SSRN, Washington and Lee Law Library, writing competition
JEL Classification: I20, I21, I29, K00, K10, K30, K40, K42
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation