Thomas R. Bruce


That is one of the reasons I fidget a bit as I read Last Writes?. I think that doing what Hibbitts proposes and more to the point, doing it well will be rather more work than he lets on, and will be anything but immediate. It will be a difficult kind of work, the thorny, self critical kind that law schools generally avoid like the plague. While Hibbitts does an excellent job of outlining the possible objections to his "modest proposal," I think that he underestimates the tenacity of the existing culture. I also think he misses some of the value of the law review not necessarily the value that it has at present, mind you, but value which is remembered or which was once sought but never attained. My other reason for fidgeting is that I am not ordinarily the one to advocate caution in such things, but in this case I think some care is indicated.

The status quo is as Hibbitts sketches it. The law review system is a runaway machine which is overloaded with raw material and stoked like mad by the self-interests of faculty and students. Hibbitts nods to the problem of professional recognition of electronically published work, but he does not solve it; his pleas for recognition of work by younger faculty stop short of the kind of blunt articulation of the problem which is needed. Simply put, unless merit, tenure, and promotion committees begin to recognize and actively encourage electronic publication, electronic publication will not take place on a useful scale. "Younger faculty under significant pressure to publish," which as I take it is a delicate way of referring to people up for tenure, are great followers of what they perceive to be the collegial norm. So too are committees charged with keeping the gates of the profession, and scholars fearful of having their work appear in a medium which has a pervasive reek of accessibility and immediacy about it.

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