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Mrs. Lincoln’s Lawyer’s Cat: The Future of Legal Scholarship

When Judge John Noonan wrote about law reviews in the Stanford Law Review back in 1995, he likened them to cathedrals. Just as every self-respecting medieval town had one, every self-respecting law school must have one. Schools that aspire to high rankings need more than one, actually. I might use a different analogy, more closely related to dissemination of written knowledge: every self-respecting 19th century town needed a newspaper—sometimes a lot of them. And just as we look back to newspapers and other literary output to gauge something about the culture of the 19th century, we can judge a school by its law review. In focusing on this theme (of the connections between law review quality and law school ranking), we can help improve legal scholarship and perhaps legal education as well.

I am honored to be present at the origin of CONNtemplations, this new form of publication by the Connecticut Law Review, and to be part of such an important conversation on the relationship between law reviews, citations, and rankings with two people whose work I much respect, John Doyle and Ronen Perry. For those topics are all central to a law school’s missions. Law schools seek to educate their students, push back the frontiers of legal knowledge, and also promote their reputations. I hope that in the mission of promoting their law reviews, law schools will both contribute to their students’ education and promote legal scholarship. When they do the first two well, they deserve to have a good reputation. This may be one of those instances in which doing the right thing also produces a private good.

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