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LIIBULLETIN: we love the numbers

This morning, the Law Librarian blog (a must-read here at the LII) is talking about the possibility that law schools are gaming the circulation statistics for their flagship law reviews.  The detailed data is in a study by George Mason lawprof Ross E. Davies.  We won’t comment on the possibility that gaming is going on.  But boy do we like those numbers, even if they’re inflated.  In fact, we like them especially if they’re inflated.  Because according to the figures in the Davies article, the electronic circulation of the LII Supreme Court Bulletin (which stands this morning at a provable 19,594) is very likely greater than that of all the flagship law reviews of the US News Top 19 combined.  So is its print circulation via the Federal Lawyer, the magazine of the Federal Bar Association, which is estimated at a further 16,000 or so.

Now, a few sober notes and disclaimers before everyone gets overexcited:

  • The LIIBULLETIN is not a scholarly law journal, in the traditional sense.
  • It is a lot smaller than “real” law journals.  If we were to print it out and count pages in circulation, the LIIBULLETIN would doubtless lose to any one of the flagships.  Comparisons based on gross weight would be meaningless, because electrons do not have a lot of heft.
  • There is no involvement by scholars.  LIIBULLETIN is a student-driven enterprise in which students write collaboratively, for attribution, on tight deadlines, about subjects with which they have no familiarity until the Court’s oral argument calendar is handed out. Some feel this bears a certain resemblance to the realities of law practice.
  • Historically, it accepts a smaller percentage of students wishing to work on it than Cornell’s other student-edited publications.
  • Unlike those journals, senior student leadership is chosen by LII management; they pick the supervising editors and associates.

So, we’re doing something different and we’re doing it using a different organizational model, so comparisons may not be terribly valid. No doubt the traditional law reviews think so.

But we…think differently.