n the age of cyberspace, law professors can finally escape the straitjacket of the law reviews by publishing their own scholarship directly on the World Wide Web. Far from being unprecedented, self-publishing is a time-honored, if hitherto-problematic part of the scholarly tradition. In the days before scholarly journals, scholars published their latest work in long letters to one another.228 Unfortunately, this was a labor-intensive process which permitted scholars to reach only one person at a time. In this context, many new ideas never received the broad exposure they deserved.
[4.2] In the decades and centuries following the inauguration of the first printed scholarly journals in 1665,229 scholars were able to reach many more people with their ideas, in a form that was both more legible and more stylistically consistent than any series of handwritten communiques. In order to do this, however, scholars had to surrender to editors a certain amount of control over how and even what information was disseminated. After all, print was a scarce material and cultural resource. As the quality and speed of print technology improved, as more and more scholars came to appreciate the professional advantages of print publication, and as they produced more and more scholarship, the journal editors who controlled access to print acquired more and more power over the scholarship selection and publishing process. Scholars had little choice but to tolerate this situation. Both sides "knew the score": without the approval and assistance of editors, scholars' work would not get printed, and therefore would remain essentially unknown.
In the age of cyberspace, law professors can finally escape the straitjacket of the law reviews by publishing their own scholarship directly on the World Wide Web.
[4.3] In Part II of this article, we saw that over time, legal scholars have become increasingly displeased and frustrated with the law review system. Many law professors have variously accused law reviews of being too arbitrary, too slow, too error-prone, or too heavy-handed; they have blamed law reviews for running articles that are too conventional, too long, too heavily footnoted or otherwise problematic. At bottom, all these accusations are complaints about editorial practices, the editorial process or the material results of working within a given editorial system. The identity of the law review editors - students or faculty members - has done little to alter the fact of complaints; it has merely determined their details.
[4.4] Today, however, new computer-mediated communications technologies, the more conservative manifestations of which I considered in Part III of this article, provide law professors and other scholars with a way of breaking out of the editorial bind. For the first time in the history of legal scholarship, one medium in particular - the World Wide Web - provides a practical and attractive means by which law professors can take complete control of the production and dissemination of their own scholarly work.
[4.5] The case for the self-publishing of legal scholarship on the Web is clear and strong. Law professors working at terminals with an Internet connection to the Web need not worry any more about whether the subject of a piece is too esoteric, too doctrinal, too complicated or even too impolitic for law review editors; we are free to write and publish on the topics of our choice. This freedom might give us a useful antidote to the substantive (conservative or "trendy") sameness of the reviews as they now exist. On the Web, we need not endure months of frustrating or embarrassing delay while our papers are judged, peer-reviewed, edited or printed in formal journals; we can disseminate our work instantly, as soon as we are satisfied with it. Our work can appear when we want it to, as opposed to when someone else's printing and publication schedule allows it to appear. On the Web, we are under no compulsion to tolerate the indignities and inaccuracies of line-editing: we can present our own work in our own terms, in our own "voice", in our own words, in our own ways. On the Web, we need not cater to the technologically- conservative expectations of peer-reviewers or even of editors themselves; on the Web, we can "push the envelope", constructing our presentations in what we regard as the most technologically-effective manner. On the Web, we need not turn our backs on our own work once it is printed, without the benefit of revision, correction or change; we can conveniently and immediately improve our own articles days, months or even years after initial publication, without going through an editorial middleman. On the Web, we can even save money: if the practice of Web self-publishing becomes sufficiently generalized, our institutions will no longer have to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars paying for both the publication of our own (print or electronic) law reviews and our subscriptions to the law reviews of others.
The case for the self-publishing of legal scholarship on the Web is clear and strong.
[4.6] While freeing legal scholars from inconvenient and occasionally-oppressive editorial controls, self- publishing on the Web also brings with it all the general advantages of Web publication (some of which I mentioned in passing while reviewing the advantages of electronic journal publication in Part III). On the Web, our ideas need no longer be circumscribed by the national or intra-disciplinary circulation of particular law reviews; we can present our work to an international and interdisciplinary public. An article on war crimes, for instance, can be easily read by a legal scholar in Italy, or a sociologist at Berkeley. The latter possibility is an especially attractive prospect in this age of "interdisciplinary" legal scholarship: rather than hope that a law review article somehow leaks out into greater academia where it can have a truly-interdisciplinary impact, legal scholarship can be made readily available to researchers from multiple fields who would otherwise never see a law review. On the Web, we are no longer limited by the lineal nature of print or the physical limits of the article format; we can use the Web's hypertext capacity to set our ideas in a broader substantive context, incidentally allowing interested readers to follow particular threads of our analysis.230 If we are discussing the Supreme Court's decision in Roe v. Wade, for instance, we can provide a hypertext link instantly connecting the reader to the full text of that decision. Not only is the use of hypertext likely to have explicit scholarly and informational benefits, but it may even encourage new and different ways to think about law consistent with hypertext's non-lineal and anti-authorial nature.231 On the Web, we no longer have to defer to the sensory limitations of the print medium; we can communicate our ideas and information with media and combinations of media that printed law reviews either cannot deal with or can deal with only with difficulty. For instance, an article on the Magna Carta might provide readers not only with the text of the famous thirteenth-century English charter, but also with a full color (and, in this instance, magnifiable) image of the manuscript in the British Library. An article on Roe v. Wade might connect to a recording of the oral arguments in that case. An article on the O.J. Simpson trial might include not only links to the trial transcripts, but also pictures from the trial, audio clips of the legal arguments, and even video from the court proceedings. Far beyond making our scholarship more entertaining (a not-insignificant achievement in itself), such strategies promise to open up rich new vistas of legal academic inquiry. On the Web, senses, sounds, images, colors, movements and performances can all come to center stage. Legal rhetoric, legal gesture, legal ritual, legal proxemics, legal architecture, legal iconography and other audio-visual practices and phenomena that are not easily captured or described in print232 will become more amenable to study and intelligent discussion. The pictorial and even the aural dimensions of legal documents which print has reduced to purely-textual artifacts (e.g. illuminated medieval legal manuscripts and even the Declaration of Independence, which recent research has revealed to have been originally composed for oral proclamation233) will at long last be recovered and recreated. Individuals working in the legal system or otherwise involved in the legal process as judges, lawyers, clients, witnesses or family members will be heard and seen for themselves in legal scholarship, instead of being (re-)presented and (mis-)understood through the filter of words written on a page. Given the technological means, some of us might even choose to personally step before the microphone and/or the camera, creating multimedia Web "scholarship" that in its supra-textual aspects might resemble "teaching", thereby breaking down the sharp, debilitating split that has long existed between these forms of academic communication. Finally, after we publish on the Web, we do not have to wait in our offices for someone to take the time to write to us or to make the psychological effort to call with comments of criticism or praise; the built-in electronic mail capacities of the Web allow and encourage our readers to provide meaningful and timely feedback to us at the touch of a button,234 comments which we can use as the basis of revision of the original article and/or append to the original document for the enlightenment and benefit of other readers and evaluators. Instead of being dead-on-arrival, every article we write on the Web can be a living creature, capable of interactivity, growth and evolution.
On the Web,...legal rhetoric, legal gesture...legal iconography and other audio-visual practices and phenomena that are not easily captured or described in print will become more amenable to study and intelligent discussion.
[4.7] The existence of a good prima facie case for the self-publishing of legal scholarship on the Web does not mean, however, that proponents of continuing the editorial status quo have no possible counter-arguments. For instance, they might say that edited law reviews provide important quality control, without which the legal community would be flooded with sub-standard legal writing. There are at least three responses to this. First, most law professors who are inclined to publish are already writing at or near capacity; productivity would doubtless increase if professors did not have to spend time dealing with law review editors and their re-writes, but a quantum increase in the pages of writing generated is unlikely. Second, "flooding" by self-published electronic papers is not a problem in the same sense that flooding by printed papers is. In an electronic system, no one is going to be buried in paper who does not want to be. Given electronic searching, no one has to laboriously flip through pages and pages of unwanted articles to get to the one he or she wants to find. The Web could in fact absorb a gigantic number of scholarly contributions without individual legal scholars or researchers becoming inconvenienced by or even conscious of such a development.235 Third, "quality control" would not suffer under the self-publishing proposal. We have already seen that the current law review system operates with minimal quality control in the generally-accepted ("peer-review") sense of that term: there are still very few faculty-edited law journals, and it is at least questionable whether the second- and third-year editors of the student- run reviews make or can make accurate qualitative (as opposed to institutionally-, reputationally-, or stylistically-related) judgments about any but the most familiar or doctrinal brands of legal scholarship. In this context the elimination of what now passes for "quality control" might actually be an improvement. The point is moot, however, for Web self-publishing and significant, professorially-undertaken quality control are in fact highly compatible. To a large extent, quality control in a self-publishing environment will be self-imposed. Individual legal scholars, knowing that their work will be presented in exactly the form in which they leave it, will be strongly encouraged to review their arguments, their facts and their texts carefully in circumstances where they can no longer leave those tasks to student editors. For the same purpose of avoiding public embarrassment (as well as to simply improve their scholarly products) many will doubtless choose to continue the current practice of informally circulating drafts to friends and colleagues, thereby ensuring to themselves the benefit of pre-publication feedback. Quality-control might also be provided after the fact by reader comments that the new technology could "attach" to any given self-published article; positive comments would probably make an article more significant, while negative comments (or no comments) would probably encourage its marginalization. In effect, this would be a new and improved form of (post-hoc) peer-review, where the "peers" would be individuals sufficiently interested and informed about the article's subject matter to have read the article voluntarily, and where the review would rate an article without (as in the current system) forcing its perhaps-premature or unfortunate suppression if the reviewers' verdict were negative.235a Individual law faculty might even go so far as to compile lists of (and links to) recommended articles on their own Web "home pages", thereby providing quality- based bibliographic guidance for colleagues in search of that.
Instead of being dead-on-arrival, every article we write on the Web can be a living creature, capable of interactivity, growth and evolution.
[4.8] A variant of the "no quality control" argument might be that self-publishing on the Web would destroy the existing technical standards for law review writing which have been implicitly and explicitly created by generations of print law review editors and which are now being carried on (with some adjustments) by their successors working in electronic formats. This is theoretically possible, but probably not likely in the short term - self-published scholars (like the editors of purely electronic law reviews, albeit to a lesser extent) have at least some incentive to adhere to prevailing conventions so as to render their work acceptable. Even assuming that standards did collapse, however, would that be such a bad thing? The historical record of law review criticism - going back to Fred Rodell and beyond - would suggest not. The freedom that would come with Web self-publishing could eventually prompt a lot of fresh air to blow across a fairly arid stylistic terrain. New formats would appear; new types of presentation would be tried. But of course style is not all that is at stake here. Less obviously, but perhaps more importantly, so is the Bluebook. The Bluebook, however, has many limitations and critics already. Its demise, or at least its decline, would not be disastrous so long as legal academics make an honest effort to make their references understood, which is ultimately in their own interest. Indeed, freedom from Bluebook conventions would likely make some citations (especially to foreign and non-legal materials) more rather than less intelligible.236 Proponents of Web self-publishing might even argue that the Bluebook is largely irrelevant in a Web environment - as that environment develops and information is added to it, footnotes and references as we now know them are likely (in many, if not in all instances) to be replaced by direct hypertext links to the cited material. In other words, instead of dropping a conventionalized footnote (in appropriate Bluebook style) to, say, Stephen Shriffin's article "Racist Speech, Outsider Jurisprudence and the Meaning of America" in the November 1994 issue of the Cornell Law Review, a Web-based paper would link directly to that article.237 No footnote, and no Bluebook required.
[4.9] A second major argument that might be advanced against Web publishing by defenders of edited law reviews might be that only journals (be they in print or electronic form) are capable of efficiently bringing legal scholarship to the attention of legal readers; in this analysis, independently-published legal scholarship would be lost in a sea of information. At the moment, these statements have some truth to them. However, two points might be made. First, printed scholarship (even when produced in journal form) is itself often lost in a sea of (printed) information, despite the best efforts of the indexing services. Second, electronic law journals are particularly hard to find unless you know what to look for. Together, these points mean that edited law reviews themselves cannot guarantee that scholars will find readers, or that readers will find scholars.
[4.10] The potential problem of "unfindable self-published legal scholarship" could be solved, however, if a legal academic institution - most obviously, the AALS - created and maintained a Web site to which all law professors could submit or "link" their scholarly work. This site would be somewhat similar to an electronic archive insofar as scholars and others would access it to look for articles. At the same time, it would be different insofar as articles would not actually have to be stored there (although some could be), but could rather be stored by individuals on their own individual or institutional home pages (in which case the central site would serve as a "pointer"). Such a central site, made electronically searchable by category and keyword, could provide a legal researcher with a convenient listing of an individual scholar's writings, articles citing a particular case, articles in a particular field, etc. There is no technological reason why such a site could not be supplemented by an electronic notification service whereby individuals interested in particular information could be notified whenever a new article relevant to them was submitted to or linked to the site, or when an existing article they had previously accessed was updated, corrected or otherwise revised. The result would be a system which would be more accurate, more accessible and more flexible than anything that exists today in the context of formal periodical publication. If an academic institution were to construct an electronic archive of self-published scholarship, it could also set (and enforce) minimal access and conduct standards to ensure that only authorized individuals (e.g. lawyers and academics) submit materials to the archive, and that "flaming" or other objectionable behavior does not disrupt the necessary decorum of academic debate. It might also enter into co-operative agreements with other institutions fulfilling similar tasks in other disciplines so as to facilitate the free exchange of information.
Web self-publishing and significant, professionally-undertaken quality control are in fact highly compatible.
[4.11] Third, at least some proponents of edited law reviews are likely to point out that only a small fraction of legal scholars are on the Web or even on the Internet in general - and so electronic self-publishing is not a practicable alternative, there being too few electronic writers and/or too few electronic readers to make it academically advantageous. The argument is problematic, however, insofar as there is every indication that more and more American law professors and lawyers are gaining Web access as their law schools and law firms come on-line in increasing numbers.238 The group of potential readers for (and writers of) self-published Web scholarship is therefore growing all the time, and growing rapidly. In this context, the original point becomes somewhat akin to a hypothetical argument that might have been made (with unfortunate long- term results) against printing scholarship at the outset of scholarly journals: "let's stick to writing letters because not all scholars have access to printing facilities or printed materials".
[4.12] A variant of this argument would be: even if law professors are coming on line, it is too technically difficult for most of them to publish on the Internet directly. Once there might have been something to be said for this argument, but given recent developments in Web publishing, it should not be taken that seriously. In the first place, the Web's publishing language - HTML ("Hypertext Markup Language") can be learned in a few hours (it is much easier, in fact, than the other "computer languages" such as Fortran, Basic, C, etc. that some of us were introduced to in school or in college). Once one learns the rudiments of HTML, materials that a law professor has already put into computer in a standard word-processing format (e.g. Microsoft Word, Word Perfect) can be made HTML-compatible almost instantly, without even having to be re-typed. In other words, with only a little more effort, the rewards of writing one's scholarship on computer to begin with (which virtually all of us do these days) can be radically increased. In the second place, a wide range of software packages known as HTML "editors" is now available which enable one to create Web documents easily and quickly without ever learning HTML itself.
[4.13] Fourth, traditionalists preferring edited law reviews in general and printed law reviews in particular might argue that a system of self-publishing on the Web would incidentally condemn legal academics to the physically-uncomfortable fate of having to read an increasing amount of new legal scholarship on computers. The visual limitations of computer screens are well known,239 as is the inconvenience attendant upon having to sit down at a terminal (as opposed to your favorite armchair) in order to read a computer-based work.240 While granting both these points under current technological circumstances, multi-chrome screens with greater resolution and less glare have been - and are being - developed that go a long way to solving the first problem.241 Miniaturization is already helping to make computer technology more portable (witness laptops), pointing the way towards a solution for the second.242 Finally, the fact that a legal article or some other document is initially published on line does not mean that it cannot be accessed or used by a would-be reader in printed form - all one has to do is download the relevant piece to a printer, whereupon it assumes all the familiar, even cozy qualities of the traditional printed format.
[4.14] In a related vein, traditionalists might argue that computer-published articles are less aesthetically pleasing than print pieces, and that therefore self-published scholarship will look prohibitively worse than its print equivalent. This might have been true once, but today it is at the very least debatable. With the aid of popular "browsers" (Mosaic and Netscape in particular), the Web is an increasingly reader-friendly visual environment; it is, in fact, much more legible than LEXIS or WESTLAW, substituting traditional Roman style letters for harsh, "computerish" typefaces. On standard (13-15 inch) computer screens, moreover, the letters and words of Web documents generally appear much larger than they do in most printed law reviews.
The freedom that would come with Web self-publishing could eventually prompt a lot of fresh air to blow across a fairly arid stylistic terrain.
[4.15] A fifth argument against self-publishing on the Web might focus on the likelihood that - if the strategy proved attractive and successful - it would deprive students in particular of the benefits of editing a law review. The problems with this argument should already be apparent. As we saw in Part II of this article, many law professors and even some law students have argued that the educational value that students derive from the editing exercise is, if not minimal, at least dubious. As a result, there may be little to be lost by the decline and potentially the fall of the law review as an institution. Indeed, there may be something to be gained: if law review work were largely eliminated, law students would have more time for classes, studying, and getting the benefits of a formal legal education. Any "missed opportunity" for student training in legal research and writing that might be caused by the elimination of the law review could probably be more than counterbalanced by the institution of upper-level legal writing programs and/or working with individual students to make their own papers publishable. Even apart from this, direct professorial publishing on the Web would not in itself prevent law students from continuing to publish a law review, if they or others deemed the educational experience sufficiently useful and important. Law students might, for instance, turn to publishing print or electronic law journals for themselves, using them as vehicles for circulating the best in student papers from their own law schools to the legal community at large. Institutionally, this would probably be much better than allowing unrestricted student legal publication in, say, an AALS-supervised archive.
[4.16] Of course, moving towards self-publishing of legal scholarship on the Web would equally deprive faculty editors and peer reviewers of their roles in the current law review system. Here too there would seem to be an ostensible loss: editing and reviewing may provide at least some law professors with professional stimulation and connections. In the long run, however, the same individuals would likely benefit from the change. With no law review to run and no submissions to review, law professors could (and perhaps would be prompted to) get on with their own writing, which after all is the primary route to professional and institutional advancement in the legal academy. They could save time; their institutions would save money. If erstwhile reviewers really did want to spend time telling others what they think of their work, that option would still be available to them via what I earlier described as "post hoc" peer review; indeed, this peer review, for the peer reviewers, would be less a form of peer review in the private, limited sense of the term, than it would (by definition) be a publication in itself. In this context, peer reviewers could finally have their cake and eat it too (i.e. do peer review and get formal scholarly credit for doing that), which might result in a better quality of criticism.
[4.17] A sixth, and perhaps the most frank argument that defenders of edited law reviews might make against Web self-publishing would focus on the loss of incidental prestige to authors, editors and institutions that would likely be caused by the adoption of such a strategy. If legal scholars published themselves, they would by definition be deprived of the "halo effect" of a "good" placement in a "reputable" law review. If legal scholars published themselves, the publishing institutions (not to mention the editors of the institutions' reviews) would moreover be unable to claim the benefit of any reflected glory. But these points, even if powerful,243 are surely specious. "Halo effects" are intellectually suspect - surely serious scholars would agree that scholarly articles should ultimately be assessed on their own merit, rather than according to the prestige of the law review in which they appear, especially when the law reviews exercise little if any true quality control. In this context, eliminating the "halo effect" of placement would remove a significant temptation in the way of free and fair evaluation of scholarship, while at the same time (re- )focusing the attention of law professors on doing their scholarly work for its own sake, rather than playing the placement "game".244 Secondly, self-publishing would not end all prestige benefits for institutions: law schools would presumably continue to derive status from the published product of their own professors, if not from the prestige of a home journal publishing the works of others.
...surely serious scholars would agree that scholarly articles should ultimately be assessed on their own merit, rather than according to the prestige of the law review in which they appear.....
[4.18] Finally, supporters of edited law reviews (either in print or electronic form) might just throw up their hands at the notion of professorial self-publishing on the Web, saying: "the whole idea's just crazy; it's science-fiction; it would never work." But the general idea (or something very much like it) has already been implemented by individual scholars all over the world. It has become standard procedure in at least one discipline and is making practical headway in several others. Highly credible commentators and committees have lately recommended it for even wider academic application. The present argument for the self-publication of legal scholarship on the Web would not be complete without some description of each of these initiatives.
[4.19] Very soon after the World Wide Web was developed (and with increasing frequency after the release of Mosaic and Netscape), individual academics in a variety of different disciplines realized its enormous professional and scholarly potential. Without waiting for their colleagues to "catch up" or for their academic associations to formally endorse their actions, scholars in such fields as computer science, mathematics, physics, public health, classics, media theory and even law began putting portions of their work directly on-line for the world to see. Some of these materials were electronic "post-prints" of papers that had already been formally published elsewhere. Others were abstracts of those papers. A few enterprising scholars even took the next logical step and began to put "unpublished" papers on-line, some with a view to getting feedback prior to seeking formal publication in traditional media, others under the assumption that distributing a piece on the Web made other publication redundant. These practices are becoming more and more common as more and more academics enter the Web and realize what it can do for them and for their ideas.
...self-publishing on the Web...has become standard procedure in at least one discipline and is making practical headway in several others.
[4.20] Some academic disciplines have nonetheless made more organized progress in the direction of electronic self-publication than have others. In the early 1990s, physics took the lead in this respect and has kept it ever since. In May 1991, David Mermin, a disgruntled but prescient academic columnist for Physics Today, openly declared that "The time is overdue to abolish journals and re-organize the way we do business".245 He proposed that physicists e-mail their work to a "central clearinghouse" which would then post that work on an electronic bulletin board for perusal and downloading by others as necessary.246 Physicist Paul Ginsparg of the Los Alamos National Laboratory took concrete action in August of the same year: frustrated by the prevailing system of scholarly communication in high-energy physics in particular, where - as elsewhere in the sciences - delays and difficulties inherent in the existing system of peer-reviewed journals had stimulated the circulation of expensive, self-published paper "pre-prints", he created what he called a "pre-print electronic archive" to which individual physicists could send electronic versions of their pre-prints prior to formal publication. As constructed, this fully-automated archive was active as well as passive: not only did it make papers available for access by e-mail, "FTP" (file transfer protocol) and (eventually) World Wide Web, but it used e-mail to notify "subscribers" of new submissions.247 Ginsparg's system has since become so successful that in high-energy physics, the electronic pre-print archive has not only replaced the practice of circulating paper pre-prints, but has largely superseded the formal printed journals as "primary disseminators of research information."248 Ginsparg's archiving software has meanwhile been applied to some twenty-five other research disciplines ranging from other areas of physics (astrophysics, condensed matter theory, quantum physics, chemical physics, etc.) through mathematics, economics, computational linguistics all the way to oceanic sciences;249 a similar program has recently been used in Japan to create an international database of self-published pre-prints in philosophy.250
[4.21] In several major fields where a lesser amount of practical progress has been made, electronic self- publication of scholarship has lately come highly recommended. For instance, in May of 1995, a team of public health professionals and information specialists (including managers at AT&T and NASA) headed by Ronald Laporte of the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health proposed a Ginsparg-style system of electronic self-publication for the health sciences. In an article in the British Medical Journal provocatively entitled "The Death of Biomedical Journals", Laporte et al. detailed the editorial and financial limitations of the current biomedical periodical structure. They described their work on a "Global Health Information Server" (part of the Global Health Network) that would facilitate distribution and exchange of biomedical research by eliminating journals and preliminary peer review in favor of electronic archiving of revisable self-published papers with comments provided post hoc by interested readers. Issuing a clarion call for radical, liberating change, Laporte concluded that "it is time that scientists begin to take control of their research communication."251 Laporte's proposal prompted a spirited response from the editors of the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine, who argued that the lack of preliminary peer-review in his system not only threatened to undermine "time tested traditions", but might potentially cost lives or cause physical harm to patients whose doctors read inadequately-reviewed literature.252 At the same time, the Journal moved to pre-emptively stifle any scholarly migration to the Global Health Information Server or other similar electronic archive by issuing an ill-disguised threat: "posting a manuscript....on a host computer to which anyone on the Internet can gain access will constitute prior publication" rendering an article ineligible for publication by the Journal itself.253 Even in this context, Laporte's program has garnered significant support, both nationally and internationally. To the extent that it remains controversial, its greatest problems would by definition not be encountered in legal scholarship, which has neither a significant peer-review system to lose nor runs the risk of causing death or physical harm if quality control becomes problematic (although I have already argued that post-hoc peer review would make such a development unlikely).
...internal professional circumstances - and not just the abstract existence of a technology - make Web self-publishing a particularly attractive option for the legal academy.
[4.22] Systems or proposals for reform of scholarly communication that make sense in one or more disciplines admittedly may not be automatically appropriate for another having significantly different traditions, characteristics or sensibilities. The existence of the paper pre-print system in high energy physics, for instance, made it easier to create an electronic archive of self-published scholarship existing outside the traditional bounds of the printed physics journals. Having said that, however, this article has clearly demonstrated that internal professional circumstances - and not just the abstract existence of a technology - make Web self-publishing a particularly attractive option for the legal academy. The potential in law of the general idea of electronic self- publication, if not its specific application to the World Wide Web, has notably been recognized by at least one group of legal information specialists. In 1993, the Interim Report of a joint committee established by the University of Dayton School of Law and Mead Data Central to study the role and potential of computer technology in legal education suggested (apparently inspired by some of the musings of Cornell law professor Peter Martin) that, in the future, "Law reviews may be replaced by direct access data bases to which faculty contribute their scholarly work.... "Direct" publishing of scholarly material ...provides a fast and efficient arena for scholarly debate and discussion. This shift away from hard copy to on-line availability raises a number of questions about the future role of student-edited law reviews."254 Not having been specifically charged with the task of re-examining legal scholarship, the committee made its comments only in passing, but they nonetheless lend credence to the present proposal.
[4.23] The self-publishing of legal scholarship on the Web might not be altogether without its own difficulties and challenges (especially in the short term, while the relevant technology is still evolving), but the theoretical and practical analysis offered here suggests that in the context of the multiple problems plaguing the contemporary law review system, the professional and intellectual benefits of such a scheme would be well worth the risks. The question therefore becomes: what can the members of the American legal academy - administrators, professors and even law students - do to make this "modest proposal" a reality?