Papers on Blogs and Legal Scholarship:
You can download drafts of the short papers written for next week's symposium on blogs and legal scholarship at this SSRN page. Contributors with posted papers include two Conspirators (Eugene and myself), Glenn Reynolds, Larry Solum, Gordon Smith, Kate Litvak, Christine Hurt & Tung Yin, Eric Goldman, Doug Berman, Ann Althouse, Larry Ribstein, and Gail Heriot.
Katherine (mail):
Well, the first and so far only piece of "legal scholarship" I've written began as a series of weblog posts, so I think if anything you guys are underestimating it.

I'm not a professor, nor was I on my school's main law review, so take this with a grain of salt. But: I think blogging may be a lot more useful to law than to other academic fields.

Law review articles are:
1) very very long
2) with voluminous footnotes
3) published in many more journals than other fields
4) published in journals that allow simultaneous submission, which presumably leads to more frequent publications
5) published in journals run by students, not other professors
6) often highly theoretical

I also get the sense that it's less routine in law faculties than, say, my husband's econ PhD program, for professors to critique and respond to each other's work. Presenting an article at a conference or a faculty lunch or seminar seems to be a routine part of the process in other fields, and attending these things is seen as part of a professor's job. I don't know of anything comparable to this in law. There are conferences of course, but they're much less frequent--and they don't involve students at all, by the way.

I get the sense that because of all this, law professors may be more isolated than people in other fields. It's easier to publish--I never would have gotten my piece placed using the methods they use in econ, believe me--but it's harder to get your piece read....If a brilliant and CORRECT article on constitutional interpretation by an obscure author appears in an obscure journal that no one ever reads, does it make a sound?

And I'm having a hell of a time expressing this coherently, but: I think "making a sound" is probably more important in law than in many other fields. I don't think law is about making scholarly discoveries that can be entirely separated from the world of policy, in the same sense that quantum physics, or organic chemistry, or psychology, or even economics can be separated. Discoveries in those fields can improve policy and influence the way our society is governed, but that's not what those feels are all about--it is what law is about. And just as law governs those in power more than other fields, it can also be changed by those in power more than other fields. Congress and the President can't get together tomorrow and change the laws of chemistry, physics, psychology or economics. (They can change the course of history, and write new works of literature, but they can't change things that have happened in the past).
4.23.2006 11:50pm