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Legal scholarship going online : 3 basic routes

The Virginia Law Review has joined Yale, Harvard, Penn, and Michigan in taking at least a portion of their law reviews to the Internet. This from Tim McCarten, Features Editor of the Virginia Law Weekly, in providing an excellent analysis of the state of online legal journalism, its advantages, and the role of legal blogs.

Expect to see big growth.

According to Jim Zucker, Virginia Law Review’s Editor-in-Chief, his counterparts at the nations’ other leading law reviews are almost uniformly planning the near-term launch of an online companion to their print journals.

The Internet provides three basic routes for presenting scholarly content according to McCarten.

  • A simple extension of printed pages with timely responses to those articles.
  • Legal blogs. Law professors such as Yale’s Jack Balkin and UCLA’s Eugene Volokh advocate this approach. While no major law review has yet taken this route because of the lack of standard editing and substantiation, some journals are known to be considering it.
  • An intermediate route. Attempting to balance the speed with which a blog can disseminate information and the academic weight that a traditional article carries, Virginia will publish ‘more polished ideas at a quicker speed.’

Law Journals understand the Internet as it exists today for most people. As the Internet becomes more and more collaborative and peer reviewed through blogs and RSS, expect to see law journals moving toward blogs as their principal online presence.

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