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

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Houston Law Review: Frankel Lecture, Akhil Reed Amar on the 25th Amendment


The 14th Annual Frankel Lecture: “25th Amendment: Revisiting Constitutional Provisions for Presidential Succession” is set for November 6th and is now accepting registrations.

November 6, 2009, 8:30am – 10:30am
Doubletree Hotel – Houston Downtown
400 Dallas St., Houston, TX


Keynote Speaker: Professor Akhil Reed Amar, Sterling Professor of Law and Political Science, Yale Law School


Commentator: John D. Feerick, Sidney C. Norris Chair of Law in Public Service, Fordham University School of Law


Commentator: Joel K. Goldstein, Vincent C. Immel Professor of Law, Saint Louis University School of Law

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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)

Comparing the Features of the Top 50 Law Review Websites

I’ve compiled a comparison of distinguishing features of the Top 50 Law Review Websites during my tenure as Internet Publishing Editor for the Houston Law Review. When I undertook the position nearly a year ago, my main purpose was simply to see what other legal journals were doing with their websites and to formulate the best practices for my own. As the internet becomes increasingly important to the dissemination of legal research, I thought others might also benefit from a more comprehensive treatment. Hence the spreadsheet. The list was created from the most recent Washington and Lee Journal Rankings. Please feel free to e-mail me with errors or omissions. Also, feel free to reuse the data with my permission for any purpose you wish.

Houston Law Review Article on Death Penalty Profiled in New York Times

The New York Times’ Adam Liptak highlights a forthcoming article from the Houston Law Review in today’s A New Look at Race When Death Is Sought. In Racial Disparities in the Capital of Capital Punishment, Scott Phillips of the University of Denver makes a surprising finding in analysis of death penalty statistics.

A new study to be published in The Houston Law Review this fall has found two sorts of racial disparities in the administration of the death penalty there, one commonplace and one surprising.

The unexceptional finding is that defendants who kill whites are more likely to be sentenced to death than those who kill blacks. More than 20 studies around the nation have come to similar conclusions.

But the new study also detected a more straightforward disparity. It found that the race of the defendant by itself plays a major role in explaining who is sentenced to death.

We were excited about this particular piece when it first came in, but obviously this kind of attention exceeds those expectations. Our incoming editing staff deserves the lion’s share of the credit. Congrats y’all.

Stephanie Cecere, editor-in-chief of the Houston Law Review, will enter her final year at the University of Houston Law Center this fall. She expects excitement about her publication to pick up about the same time. That’s when the journal will publish an article by Scott Phillips, a professor of sociology and criminology at the University of Denver. After studying Harris County death penalty statistics, he found that — all other factors, such as the type of crime committed, being equal — a black defendant is more likely to be sentenced to death than a white defendant in Harris County.

Tex Parte Blog: Running the numbers

Houston Law Review, Spring 2008, Vol. 45 No. 1

The Twelfth Annual Frankel Lecture





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