This article responds to a series of commentaries on my 1996 Web-posted article Last Writes? Re-assessing the Law Review in the Age of Cyberspace (reprinted in 71 New York University Law Review 615 (1996)) collected in a Special Issue of the Akron Law Review (Volume 30, Number 2, Winter 1996). Last Writes? argued that the development of Internet technology allows and should encourage legal scholars to move away from traditional law review publication - with all of its well-publicized problems - towards a “self-publishing” system in which articles uploaded to the Internet by their scholarly authors could be archived centrally or in a distributed fashion across institutions and made available for post-hoc open peer review.
The article begins by pointing out the resemblance between the arguments of contemporary scholars skeptical of the advisability of electronically self-publishing legal scholarship and the arguments of fifteenth and sixteenth century scholars who doubted the advisability of commercial printing. It then proceeds to address each of the skeptics' arguments on its own terms. It shows that instead of having no discernible benefits for legal scholars, electronic self-publishing has many, not least of which is its potential for encouraging scholarly dialogue by expediting the publication process and making scholars directly and immediately accountable to one another. It shows that instead of making things worse for law professors and other legal authors by compromising quality and sacrificing "value added" by law reviews, electronic self-publishing can enhance quality and actually add value of its own. It shows that instead of imposing numerous professional and/or pedagogical costs on law professors, lawyers and law students, electronic self-publishing need impose very few, and in some respects, none at all. It shows that instead of being impossible to realize, electronic self-publishing is technologically and academically feasible. Finally, it shows that instead of threatening too radical a change, electronic self-publishing is the only change radical enough to fully meet the major structural and intellectual challenges currently facing legal scholarship in the age of cyberspace.
Bernard J. Hibbitts,
Yesterday Once More: Skeptics, Scribes and the Demise of Law Reviews,
Akron Law Review, Vol. 30
Available at: https://scholarship.law.pitt.edu/fac_articles/129