Our universities don’t produce much useful material these days.
Law review articles are no exception.
I started my law practice about eight years ago.
Every day I use legal reference materials online or in a law library.
Not once has a law review publication helped me.
There are many types of law reviews.
And they are all equally useless to the average practitioner.
Some articles are written about obscure topics such as “Space Trash”: Lessons Learned (and Ignored) from Space Law and Government Journal of Space Law Vol. 39 No. 1 2013
Others discuss overly technical aspects of the law (e.g., The Flaws in Using the Hypothetical Monopolist Test from the “Payor Perspective” in Health Care Merger Cases ABA Journal, Antitrust Source Vol 17 No 1.)
And many, many more focus on social justice: The Feminist Case for the NCAA’s Recognition of Competitive Cheer as an Emerging Sport for Women, 52 B.C. L. REV. 439 or Reading the Pink Locker Room on Football Culture and Title IX, 14 WM. & MARY J. WOMEN & L. 1 .
These topics may be fascinating to law professors.
But they do no good for lawyers or for the everyday people that lawyers represent.
Similar criticism has come from the highest levels of the legal profession.
In 2011, Chief Justice John Roberts discussed law review articles at a judicial conference.
Pick up a copy of any law review that you see, and the first article is likely to be, you know, the influence of Immanuel Kant on evidentiary approaches in 18th Century Bulgaria, or something.
If the academy wants to deal with the legal issues at a particularly abstract, philosophical level, that’s great and that’s their business, but they shouldn’t expect that it would be of any particular help or even interest to the members of the practice of the bar or judges.
We have nine law schools in Massachusetts.
So, if we include adjunct faculty, the state has hundreds of law professors.
Yet even some of the most basic legal questions remain untouched by academia.
Here’s an example.
Until a recent court decision, it was unclear whether Massachusetts tax liens attached to a debtor’s after-acquired real estate (i.e., a house bought after the date of the lien.)
This was an issue that concerned many attorneys and affected hundreds (possibly thousands) of Massachusetts’ residents.
Nevertheless, not a single law professor dealt with the topic.
They were too busy writing about space trash and transvestite cheerleaders.
I doubt that things will change anytime soon.
But, hopefully, someday we can return to reality.