Search This Blog

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Potuto on Law Review Editors

Josephine Potuto has posted a delightfully critical article on SSRN entitled, Whose Article Is It Anyway? Student Editors and the Law Review Process. Here is the abstract:

Law professors publish in law reviews, not peer-reviewed journals. They are edited by law students. The editing process can be both irritating and exasperating. From experiences lived and those shared by colleagues across the country, I provide concrete examples of where law student editors go wrong, and also explain why.
And from the introduction:
Strange sounds emanate from a colleague’s office. Moans and groans. Shouts of “No!” Wails of dismay. Perhaps my colleague holds her head in her hands or reaches for an ice pack. The sounds certainly suggest as much. Two guesses. Either she is grading exams or she is reviewing edits made to her article by law review student editors.
Attacking law reviews is in vogue, so the contrarian in me cannot help but call out mistakes that I see in the various blog posts, articles, and papers that criticize the editors of law journals.

This motivation compels me to voice some qualms I have with the footnote following Potuto's name (also known as the asterisk footnote). This footnote, for mysterious reasons, appears on the second page of the paper and follows three numbered footnotes. This observation is partly critical, but primarily one of amazement. If asked to replicate Potuto's placement of the asterisk footnote, I would have no idea how to accomplish the feat.

Also, in that same footnote, there should probably be a comma after "Winning Appeals (1992)" (see Potuto's remark at the bottom of page eight). And "University of Nebraska," is three words, not two.

At the same time, however, I must admit that Potuto's criticism of law journals made me smile. I found her article's use of concrete examples and unsettling anecdotes to be engaging and humorous. I am also of the opinion that law review editors should keep abreast of all criticism of law journals so that they may work to fix the problems critics highlight.

For this reason, I recommend that editors take note of Potuto's criticisms. Editors should pay specific attention to her suggestions near the end of the article. It is unfortunate that these suggestions are buried beneath a host of cringe-worthy anectotes, since most student editors will think they do not commit similar errors, and may therefore think that this article does not apply to them. But editors could learn from Potuto's broader suggestions, and following her advice may mitigate some of the disconnect between professors and editors.

Finally, I would add a suggestion to Potuto's list: in the event that an editor is not entirely sure about making a change to an article, but suspects that a change is needed, the editor should make the change, and include a comment that indicates why the change was made. If the author disagrees with the comment, the author can reject the change. But the inclusion of the comment shows the author that the editor has considered the author's preferences, and is willing to defer to the author's judgment.

No comments:

Post a Comment