The full-text version of this article1 offers a comprehensive re-assessment of the law review from the perspective of the present age of cyberspace. Such a re-assessment is best begun with an investigation of the academic and technological conditions that initially joined to generate the genre. The standard story setting out the origin of the American law review runs as follows: in 1887, a group of enterprising Harvard law students, backed by visionary faculty and supportive Harvard alumni, commenced publication of a student-edited legal periodical (the Harvard Law Review) which soon became the model for many others. The story is factually accurate, but conceptually inadequate. It downplays the extent to which the law review served the general interests of the university-based law school as a formerly-marginal institution seeking greater distinction for its programs and its students in late nineteenth and early twentieth century America. It presents the law review as the creature of narrow legal considerations where there is at least circumstantial evidence to suggest that a desire to match the new journalpublishing projects of numerous other disciplines (e.g. medicine, chemistry, history) might have animated the professors who supported the student initiatives at Harvard and elsewhere. Most important for present purposes, the traditional story totally disregards technological developments in the printing and publishing industries in particular, the development of high-speed rotary presses and improved paper-making processes that in the late nineteenth century radically lowered printing costs and made law school sponsorship of legal periodicals financially and conceptually plausible for the first time. In light of these factors, the initial spread of law reviews to a variety of law schools can be seen as a logical outgrowth of contemporary circumstances, rather than as an instance of institutions across the United States simply "following the leader."
Hibbitts, Bernard J.
"Last Writes? Re-assesing the Law Review in the Age of Cyberspace,"
Akron Law Review: Vol. 30:
2, Article 2.
Available at: https://ideaexchange.uakron.edu/akronlawreview/vol30/iss2/2