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Something New for Law Reviews

More than a dozen years ago, students at my law school came to me and proposed that I become the faculty advisor to a new student-edited specialty law journal in technology law and policy. I agreed and navigated the proposed journal through our internal approvals process. Success! I proudly shared my mini-professional success, and my school’s advancing in the IP/technology law ranks, with a senior colleague who had been a mentor to me. Hearing the news that another specialty technology law journal had launched, the response was an underwhelming and almost incredulous “another one?”

Since then, I have worked with the students to make the journal relevant, sometimes with more success and sometimes with less. My message has always been: speak to the regional audience. Pittsburgh (like many re-emerging economies) is in dire need of thoughtful law and policy analysis.

Last Fall, at Concurring Opinions Dave Hoffman wrote a short piece summarizing his three-part advice to law review student authors and editors, including focusing their writing on shorter, more usable pieces. I’m happy to say not only that I agree with him, but also that at TLP, we have all three items on his list already in place and practice. The big one is: write short pieces about recent stuff, not bloated “notes” about appellate judicial opinions.

Over the last three years, Pittsburgh’s Journal of Technology Law & Policy has set its sails properly, and now the winds of progress are blowing in our favor. Beginning in the Fall of 2012, “TLP,” as the journal is known here, has focused much of its effort on publishing student-produced series of short law and policy pieces that address technology topics of interest to the Pittsburgh region. Each one is introduced by a short paper authored by a notable law and/or policy person, both to give the series some higher-level framing and to bring the series some of the public attention that it deserves.

The most recent of TLP’s “Student Article Series” is now online, at The theme is “smart cities,” and the introduction is by Pittsburgh’s Mayor, Bill Peduto.