Top 20 Legal Thinkers: Legal Affairs is having a contest to see how many people will visit their website to help out friends, former professors, favorite bloggers, and ideological compadres — er, rather, to determine who are the Top 20 Legal Thinkers in America.

  Specifically, the poll asks you to vote for "the country's most influential and important legal thinkers—the ones whose ideas are pushing the law forward (or backward, as the case may be)." Of course, if "the law" means legal doctrine, then the 9 members of the Supreme Court are the winners. Being "Supreme" will do that. But I don't know if that's what they have in mind.

  The bloggers on the list of 125 nominees include blogfather Eugene, Lawrence Solum, Jack Balkin, Glenn Reynolds, Tom Goldstein, and (just in time) Richard Posner. To see how Legal Affairs picked its nominees, see here. Link via Howard, who isn't on the list himself but perhaps should be.
Vote For the Most Influential Legal Thinkers in America!: Larry Solum (Legal Theory Blog), Eugene Volokh (Volokh Conspiracy) and Glenn Reynolds (Instapundit) have been nominated for the Top 20 Legal Thinkers in America by Legal Affairs. Larry and Eugene are nominated in the "Academics" category, while Glenn is nominated in the "Writers/Commentators" category. According to Legal Affairs: "Your job is to vote for your top five, plus a favorite who's not on the list, by March 1, 2005." You can place your vote by clicking here.

Update: Immediately upon posting this, I saw that Orin beat me to the punch, though much more sardonically.

Related Posts (on one page):

  1. Leiter on the Top 20 Legal Thinkers:
  2. Vote For the Most Influential Legal Thinkers in America!:
  3. Top 20 Legal Thinkers:
Leiter on the Top 20 Legal Thinkers:

Brian Leiter, who knows a few things about rankings, describes the Legal Affairs Top 20 Legal Thinkers poll as a "meaningless publicity stunt":

The list of candidates is--to put the matter gently--absurd, not because there aren't substantial "legal thinkers" on the list (there are some), but because there are far too many on the list who aren't leading legal thinkers by anyone's lights, and some who aren't even capable of thinking based on any evidence I've seen.

Hyperbole aside, this seems basically right. The list of nominees is a list of well-known academics, judges, and journalists - not a list of top legal thinkers. This raises an interesting question, though: What does it mean to be a top legal thinker? And maybe another: Why the fascination with rankings?

  I would be interested in reading what you think about this; I have enabled comments.