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Blue Booking and the Academy

Christine Hurt at Conglomerate has a review of the new, 18th edition of the Blue Book, which faults the editors for perpetuating (rather than abolishing) typographical and format distinctions that divide legal citation for scholars from legal citation for practitioners.

Meanwhile, as part of The Volokh Conspiracy’s thread of posts on the evolution of legal scholarship, Orin Kerr wonders, following a recent Bob Berring query in The Green Bag, about the timing of the recent elite law review policy shift toward shorter pieces. Why now?

Todd Zywicki offers a hypothesis about article length and Kuhnian “normal” (legal) science (shorter pieces work better for “normal” science; length limitations are difficult to deal with when you’re fighting the paradigm); Orin asks readers for thoughts about the influence of the Web (and especially the blogosphere) on how scholars experience legal scholarship.

I think that both Todd and Orin are on to something, and I think that it’s related to what Christine dislikes about the Blue Book. My hypothesis: The legal academy has fought for decades for intellectual respectability within the academy as a whole. The Internet is finally mature enough that scholars and practitioners alike can feel — even see — the erosion of the intangible barriers between them that have allowed legal scholars to perpetuate their status as “true” academics. We are all bloggers now! One consequence is a two-fold response by (insecure) legal academia, represented by students at “elite” (scholarly) law schools: reify scholarly conventions, both formal (citation format) and informal (“normal” article length).