Law Schools/Study of Law • Et. Seq: The Harvard Law School Library Blog

An Update on the Peer Reviewed Scholarship Marketplace

A couple of years ago, we posted about an exciting new endeavor called the Peer Reviewed Scholarship Marketplace (“PRSM”). I was wondering how the project was going, so I contacted the PRSM administrator to find out. Mark Ingram and Justin Bagwell, the current and former Administrators, were happy to provide an update on the progress of the endeavor.

Et Seq.: How many faculty do you have serving as reviewers now? Are they mostly from law schools, or do you have people from other disciplines (e.g. to deal with non-law or interdisciplinary scholarship)? Do you have people specifically qualified for empirical studies work?
Mark: As for reviewers, currently we have ~60 reviewers from law schools across the nation who have expressed interest through our website in serving as reviewers. We have 10 reviewers who work in government or private practice, and there are a handful of reviewers from medical schools, as well. Only one of our potential reviewers indicated that his expertise is “quantitative/empirical methods.” We keep a list of all “Reviewer Requests” received through the website, and, of course, we may also contact authorities in a particular field if we are unable to retain an adequate number of qualified reviewers from our list for a particular article.

Et Seq.: What do you think incentivizes reviewers to join? What do you think motivates authors?
Mark: I think reviewers as well as authors are motivated by their support for peer review within legal scholarship. In addition to the “Reviewer Requests” that we receive through the website we also receive “Author Requests” from authors seeking more information about submitting an article to PRSM. These authors usually indicate their willingness to serve as reviewers on this form, as well. Both of the reviewers who reviewed our latest submission expressed their support for PRSM (“PRSM is a great endeavour.”) and their appreciation of our effort to integrate peer review into the article selection process (“I think it is great that you are doing peer review.”).
Justin: I think that reviewers most often join PRSM just out of a desire to contribute to the profession. Reviewers perform a vital function by giving journals guidance in selecting their articles. I think it would be fair to say that they perform a type of “gate keeping” function by commenting on the novelty and substantive quality of the article. I think that an author’s motivation is somewhat different from a reviewer’s. Most often I think authors seek to have their article given a heightened degree of credibility by having their peers comment on it. Also, I think many of the authors that have submitted articles through PRSM have chosen to do so because they recognize the need for a peer review element in legal scholarship. They may see their submissions as a step in the direction that they believe legal scholarship should go.

Et Seq.: How has the author experience been? What is their feedback?
Justin: For the most part, authors have been very complimentary of the peer review process. They have generally been understanding of the extended timeline that is necessary for finding reviewers and completing reviews. All have been grateful for the opportunity to have their articles reviewed. Even when an author has not had their article selected for publication, they have been grateful for the experience and the opportunity to receive feedback.

Et Seq.: Have any of the other member journals (http://www.legalpeerreview.org/members.php) published issues using the service?
Justin: As far as I know, no other journal has published an entire issue using the PRSM service. However, I didn’t have any contact with either the author or the journals after the review process was complete so it is possible that some articles may have been published without my knowledge.
Mark: To my knowledge, our latest submission received offers from some of our members and should appear in one of our member journals soon. It’s up to the member journals whether to indicate that a particular article has been peer reviewed, but keep your eyes peeled for the newest peer-reviewed article in the coming months.

Et Seq.: Do you have any new journals joining?
Mark: Our newest members are Nevada Law Journal and Fordham Law Review, which brings the total number to thirteen. I am currently in contact with new Editors-in-Chief across the nation in an effort to add more members to our consortium. Our long-term goals have always been to add more members and to secure more article submissions.

For those interested in peer review (and other issues) in law reviews, you might want to take a look at a series “law review review” at the PrawfsBlawg. This week, there is an interview with an editor at the Stanford Law Review about its experimentation with peer review.

The Happy Lawyer

In an effort to escape the rain, I recently took a free form browse of the Harvard Coop.

This is where I found an interesting read:

The Happy Lawyer:  Making a Good Life in the Law (2010)

The Happy Lawyer, by Nancy Levit & Douglas O. Linder, offers a mix of pop psychology, insightful  anecdotes and practical tips.

The Happy LawyerThe authors affirm that happiness is relative, and a function of science, personality and social factors.  They then assert that happiness is in tension with itself, given the competing factors that comprise short term happiness, long-term happiness and general steady satisfaction.

The authors next attempt to explain why a lawyer may be unhappy.  Perhaps the profession adversely selects unhappy people (called introverts).  Perhaps the profession adversely selects people whose high expectations and feelings of happiness entitlement are at odds with reality.

Unhappiness in the law may also now arise from changes in the legal market.  For example, the law is becoming more of a business and less of a profession, meaning that lawyers may tend to feel less in control of their work – and thus more unsatisfied.

What to do.  Well, first the authors remind us that the law has its upside:  It’s a noble profession which allows one to make a difference.

Next, the authors exhort law-student- and lawyer- job seekers to consider the following questions:

  • What gives you meaning
  • What gives you pleasure
  • What are your strengths

The book also offers tips to law firms for creating a happier work environment, including redesigning office space to allow for water cooler time.

Finally, the book outlines steps for finding happiness:

  • Find work that interests you
  • Align your work with your values
  • Balance your work and the rest of your life
  • Deepen workplace relationships
  • Savor the small pleasures

This book is a great read for folks considering law school, law students, current lawyers and pop-psychology hobbyists.

Introducing LATCamp

Interested in using technology to ease the pain of creating end-of-semester outlines?  Want to share library resources with law students and professors in a completely new way?  Looking for a way to finally illustrate a case in class through the use of technology?  Or are you just plain curious about the intersection of legal information and technology?  If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you should come to LATCamp!

LATCamp (Law and Technology Camp) is a one-day unconference hosted by the Harvard Law School on May 16.  We welcome everyone who is involved with legal education throughout New England – students, professors, librarians, technologists.  It promises to be an exciting day of lively discussions, brainstorming, and forming new ideas.  See the About page for more information.

Applying to LATCamp couldn’t be easier!  Just fill out the registration form with a little bit of information about yourself and why you want to come to LATCamp.  Applications are due by April 18, 2011, and all participants will be notified by April 25 of their acceptance.  Due to space constraints, we will be capping attendance at 75.

Once you’re accepted, you are encouraged to submit session proposals and to comment on others.  Lively discussions before the day begins help to shape the discussion topics and to set the participatory tone for the day.  You can also sign up for a Dork Short!  Dork Shorts are 2-minute mini-presentations on projects you may be working on.  They are presented before the whole group, and you can show off a web-based project, or just get up and talk, prop-free.

Thinking about becoming a law professor?

Becoming a Law Professor: A Candidate's Guide Last August, we posted about a forthcoming book with advice for those interested in entering legal academia. Becoming a Law Professor: A Candidate’s Guide is now available for loan. It provides a brief, (at times anectodal) guide to the process of entering the market for a law faculty position. Topics include preparing for the AALS hiring conference, tips for teaching and publishing in law reviews. You might want to check it out if you are considering going into academia.

West Offering Casebook Rentals

It looks like West is offering casebook rentals to students. The service includes electronic access during the rental period, although it does not work on Kindles, iPads, etc.. See the FAQ’s for more details. (Thanks to @richards1000 and @lawschooltech for the tip!)

Becoming a Law Professor: A Candidate’s Guide

The authors of the forthcoming Becoming a Law Professor: A Candidate’s Guide (ABA 2010) recently posted their Table of Contents and Introduction to SSRN. Larry Solum (University of Illinois College of Law) also posted his Foreward to the book, New Realities of the Legal Academy. Check out comments made by Jeff Lipshaw (Cumberland School of Law)(one of the book’s authors) at the Legal Profession Blog.

We will post about the new book once the library receives a copy!

852 RARE: LIFE at HLS

LIFE MAGAZINE
LOOKS AT THE
HARVARD LAW SCHOOL

NOVEMBER 1937

LIFE was the leading twentieth-century magazine of photo-journalism, appearing weekly from 1936 until 1972. With its familiar logo displaying the title in white sans-serif type against a red rectangular background, the magazine dominated its market with a circulation that eventually reached 13.5 million copies a week. In 2008 Google Books digitized the complete file, and it is now a simple matter to obtain hundreds of images of the Harvard Law School, its students and faculty from this period.

The earliest “spread” on the School appeared in the November 1, 1937 issue, coinciding with the appointment of James Landis to the deanship:

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LANDIS BECOMES A DEAN
James McCauley Landis gave up his job as chairman of the Securities & Exchange Commission to become dean of the Harvard Law School. This picture shows him in a characteristic pose, lecturing on “contracts” in the classroom where, as a student, he once dazzled professors with his nimble mind. No man could be a better model of the fierce intellectual effort which the Law School expects of its students.

With the title, “At the Harvard Law School the work is hard but the rewards are high/The Cambridge ‘Incubator of Greatness’ has a new Dean but the same fierce scholarship,” the eight-page articles surveys the rigors of the School’s academic program from a definite “pre-Paper Chase” point-of-view.

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STUDY, STUDY, STUDY, STUDY
This picture of furrowed concentration is Barring Hesse Coughlin, of Wilkes-Barre, Pa. In his Princeton University days, Coughlin was a star swimmer but at the Law School he is a proud “grind,” a ranking scholar in his class and a member of the Law Review. The afternoon light, streaming through a window of Langdell Hall, is softened by the green eyeshade, a gadget copied by hundreds of students from the Law School’s great, retired Dean Roscoe Pound.

A copy of the original article is currently on display in the Caspersen Room.

Posted by David Warrington, Librarian for Special Collections

Langdell – 17th Most Creative Moment in Law?

Professor Robert Blomquist of Valparaiso Law (no that’s not him – that’s our own Christopher Columbus Langdell) has written “Thinking about Law and Creativity : On the 100 Most Creative Moments in American Law.”

From the abstract:

This article makes a bold new proposal—the articulation and ranking of America’s most creative legal moments—designed to energize and clarify our synoptic thinking about the nature of legal creativity. Starting with the opinions of numerous eminent legal historians on the most creative moments in Anglo-American law, we will explore the meaning of creative moments in law, and advance to analytically compare legal creativity with other kinds of creativity (corporate, artistic, military and rhetorical). Then we will heuristically entertain a ranking of the top hundred moments in American law and a justification for the ranking.

Coming in at number 17 (just above Oliver Wendell Holmes’ seminal monograph The Common Law) is Langdell’s case method for the study of law, invented right here at HLS, of course, complete with library as “laboratory.”

Blomquist is careful to call his list and ranking “tentative,” so feel free to disagree with him after perusing his rankings and the justifications that follow. But don’t even think of knocking Chris down below the top twenty…

How did Harvard Law grads fare in the teaching market recently? Let’s just take a look…

Brian Leiter’s newest ranking of law school graduates on the teaching market (from 2006-08) is out – I see Harvard didn’t fare too badly.

Hat tip to the Law Librarian blog.

Learned Handmade Plates

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HLS 3L José Klein has created the Learned Handmade Plates, a series of dishes commemorating significant U.S. Supreme Court decisions and current Justices of the Court.

The Learned Handmade Plates web site shows images of each of the 31 plates and includes detailed information about each case and judge that is depicted.

According to the HLS student newspaper, Klein’s work satisfied his 3L writing requirement.

The plates are available for purchase. Looks like there are also some magnets for sale.

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