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The Law Reviews vs. the Courts: Two Thoughts From the Ivory Tower

If you’re reading this, you must not be a federal judge.

According to a March 2007 article in the New York Times, legal scholarship has become too ethereal and abstract to be of any practical use to federal judges in their everyday disposition of cases. In the words of Dennis G. Jacobs, Chief Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, “I haven’t opened up a law review in years. . . . No one speaks of them. No one relies on them.” Paraphrasing 19th century Scottish writer Andrew Lang, Second Circuit Judge Robert Sack went even further, suggesting that, even when judges do cite law review articles today, they “use them like drunks use lampposts,” i.e., “more for support than for illumination.”

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