Professor Hibbitts's review of the history of law reviews was interesting. For me, the most notable part of that history was his placing the law review in context, not only of the times and the desire of law faculty to be recognized as part of the academic world, but of technology. He points out that declining costs in the print publishing world helped fuel the growth of law reviews. I do not know the history of publishing well enough to know whether the 1890s (the beginning period of law review formation) was a watershed time, but surely publishing costs do indeed have something to do with the eagerness of institutions to engage in regular publication.
Of course, his reliance on technological developments is not just happenstance, because Professor Hibbitts wants to demonstrate that today's technology can or should bring about a similar revolution in legal scholarship this time toward the self-publication on the World Wide Web that he favors.
I am inclined to be sympathetic toward this view. Every law faculty member questions, at one time or another, just how much sense it makes for students to have so large a role in the careers of legal academics. On the other hand, when a tradition has survived as long as that of the student-edited review, one suspects that something more than happenstance or even publishing technology must be at work. In any event, it is useful to think more carefully about his proposal and to examine critically some of Professor Hibbitts's justifications for moving to faculty self-publication on the World Wide Web.
"Review of Hibbitts's Last Writes?,"
Akron Law Review: Vol. 30
, Article 8.
Available at: http://ideaexchange.uakron.edu/akronlawreview/vol30/iss2/8