: The Blawgraphy
Life of a Law Student, University of Houston Law Center

Please note: I'm no longer updating this particular blog, but keep it around for archival purposes. Visit me at the current blog at

H.A.C. Brummett


Inspiration can come from odd places. This photo hung in the commons of the University of Houston Law Center for several years. I suppose one could take it any number of ways – inspiration to study a few more hours lest the same fate befall you? – I choose to see it as the practice of law at its most elemental. After a little internet research I discovered that H.A.C. Brummett was a prominent and apparently colorful lawyer and judge in Dickens County, Texas (“the unofficial wild boar capital of Texas”), a rural area on the outskirts of Lubbock on the Llano Estacado mesa.

Read the rest of this entry »

The Situation of Law Reviews: May You Cite Check in Interesting Times

The paid circulation for Law Reviews has been going the way of the newspaper, dropping 50-70% amongst even the most prestigious journals, as noted by Ross Davies in the Green Bag. See Documenting the Decline of (Print) Law Reviews.

Adding to that is a recent call by the directors of law libraries across the country for law reviews to end print publication and switch to “stable, open, digital formats,” whatever that might mean. From the Durham Statement on Open Access to Legal Scholarship:

On 7 November 2008, the directors of the law libraries at the University of Chicago, Columbia University, Cornell University, Duke University, Georgetown University, Harvard University, New York University, Northwestern University, the University of Pennsylvania, Stanford University, the University of Texas, and Yale University met in Durham, North Carolina at the Duke Law School. That meeting resulted in the “Durham Statement on Open Access to Legal Scholarship,” which calls for all law schools to stop publishing their journals in print format and to rely instead on electronic publication coupled with a commitment to keep the electronic versions available in stable, open, digital formats.

Particularly now, with growing financial pressures on law school budgets, ending print publication of law journals deserves serious consideration. Very few law journals receive enough in subscription income and royalties to cover their costs of operation. The Statement anticipates both that the costs for printing and mailing can be eliminated, and that law libraries can reduce their costs for subscribing to, processing, and preserving print journals. There are additional benefits in improving access to journals that are not now published in open access formats and in reducing paper consumption.

David Post noted the odd significance of this development in PLOL, or The Slow Death of the Law Review As We Know It

It’s an important development, I believe. It’s true, of course, as those of you who have been or are currently in law school know, that law library directors do not have any direct responsibility for law review publication; as a result, the statement is only of significance as an advisory matter, and it can’t be implemented without a lot of other things happening and a lot of other people on board. Nonetheless, I think it adds an important voice to the debate about the future of the law review, and another hole in the hull of the law review ship, which has been taking on water for some time now.

I would say that it’s not just ‘advisory’ in that law libraries as a group are typically the largest consumers of the print publication of a law review. However, the Durham Statement is not a threatened boycott, a call for law libraries to stop purchasing print versions of the law reviews; rather it’s a slightly more bizarre plea – “Please stop making what we currently pay for so we won’t feel obligated to buy it.”

Post points to the Public Library of Science (PLoS) as the model that would displace the current one. Public Library of Science offers 7 different open access journals in biology and medicine. These things don’t edit themselves, however, and what Post omits is that they charge authors or research sponsors between $1300 – $2850 for each article they publish. Publishing with law reviews is free because a bevy of ambitious law students have made a deal to donate hundreds of hours of bluebooking and citechecking in exchange for the law review credential. Is there another market mechanism to marshal these editing resources? I don’t see a viable path to publication in the offing.

  • Law Review Websites: most law reviews now offer PDF versions of their publication on their website for free. (Top 50 Law Review Websites profiled here)

Meyler on Daniel de Foe, Champion of Constitutionalism

Somewhere along the line I became an accidental de Foe scholar, primarily due to the influence of a favorite professor in undergrad, Dr. Irving Rothman, so it was particularly gratifying to read an excellent piece on de Foe’s role in promoting constitutionalism as a form of governance.

Today, as constitutionalism spreads around the globe, it is embodied de rigueur in written documents: even places that sustained polities for centuries without a written constitution have begun to succumb to the lure of writtenness. America, we think, spawned thisworldwide force, inaugurating a radically new form of political organization when it adopted the Constitution as its foundational text; yet the notion of the written constitution had, in fact, received an earlier imprimatur from the pen of Daniel Defoe—English novelist, political pamphleteer, and secret agent. Plying his trades in the early eighteenth century, Defoe, now known largely as the author of Robinson Crusoe, advocated the development of written documents setting forth the basic principles of a governmental order—and restraining the power of legislative majorities—in a number of disparate literary and political guises. Just as the individualist ethos of Robinson Crusoe grabbed the American imagination from the mid–eighteenth century onward, a conception of written constitutionalism similar to the one that he promulgated took root on American soil. This Article elaborates the contours of written constitutionalism that Defoe outlined and demonstrates the close alignment of some of Defoe’s arguments with the scholarship of today, an alignment that suggests the persistence of some of the mythic ideals of written constitutionalism that Defoe constructed in the early eighteenth century.

Read here: Bernadette Meyler, Daniel Defoe and the Written Constitution (.pdf)

What Should a Law Professor Wear?

The Wall Street Journal Law blog asks an excellent question in If Clothes Make the Man, What Should a Law Professor Wear? Law professors are oblivious enough not to realize how often their wardrobe is the subject of student discussion.

The University of Houston Law Center is no different. A quick rundown – there are your more or less debonair profs – some perhaps have an innate fashion sense; most have obviously had help. A female law prof is known for her well-appointed taste for flashy shoes. One of the IP guys has an odd habit of wearing a holstered cellphone on the middle of the back of his belt. One of the better-known profs somehow manages to dress like yoda in his t-shirts and cardigans, an image reinforced by his wizened demeanor and intellectual reputation.

My favorite is a prof whom I see regularly around campus in slacks and a polo but in class is always in a suit and tie; this strikes me less as a nod to formality than an indication that he takes the classroom experience seriously – that it is not a haphazard inquisition but a treasured ritual for which he is assiduously prepared.

Ashby Jones makes a similar observation:

We showed up at law school many years ago not really knowing what to expect. But our civil procedure professor — Richard Friedman at Michigan — showed up on the first day dressed in a suit. It made a helpful impression on us — an impression not so much about Friedman but law school generally. It made us sit up and say to ourselves, ‘oh, right. This ain’t undergrad. We’re being trained for a profession here.’ And that, in retrospect, wasn’t an entirely bad chord to strike early on, we thinks.

This to me is the secret to dressing the part as a law prof, which is less about idealized form than revealing the thought you put into it. Hofstra Law Prof Bennett Capers in his original post at PrawfsBlawg, Clothes Make the Man, points us to Alison Lurie’s The Language of Clothes, noting:

For thousands of years human beings have communicated with one another first in the language of dress. Long before I am near enough to talk to you on the street, in a meeting, or at a party, you announce your sex, age and class to me through what you are wearing—and very possibly give me important information (or misinformation) as to your occupation, origin, personality, opinions, tastes, sexual desires, and current mood. I may not be able to put what I observe into words, but I register the information unconsciously; and you simultaneously do the same for me. By the time we meet and converse we have already spoken to each other in an older and more universal tongue.

Welcome to the New Economy

Something about this picture resonated with me. This is what sprang to mind. Read the rest of this entry »

Blawgraphy: Subscribe by Email

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner