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A New Voice

posted by Elizabeth Warren

Tomorrow marks the debut of a new journal:  The Harvard Law and Policy Review.  I am pleased as punch  because my students founded the journal.  But I'm also pleased because they have a vision to integrate policy and academic debates that I believe in.  So far, the journal is off to a good start, with Charles Schumer weighing in on separation of powers and Patricia Wald responding.  In addition to a senator and a circuit court judge, the other participants include scholars from political science, law, private foundations, and a variety of other experiences and backgrounds.  There's even room for online commentary from readers. 

What particularly excites me is that the journal features middle class economic issues front-and-center.  Grouped together as part of a discussion on reducing the price of opportunity, the journal has pulled in Jacob Hacker for a piece on the new economic insecurity, Michael Lind on the smallholder society, Michael Barr focusing on savings, and a piece from my coauthors and me on paying for college. 

In my view, economic issues of the kind we commercial law folks discuss have been second-class citizens:  not as sexy as multi-billion dollar corporate finance twists nor as profound as interpreting the Constitution.  Sure, the bankruptcy debates went public, but generally commercial law has been regarded as something for technocrats (read: boring).  Serious policy debate designed to appeal to a broad audience either in the academy or the public needed to focus on other subject areas. 

This has been a mistake.  The economic issues that are buffeting the middle class--and the legal policy decisions that assist or retard that buffeting--are of central intellectual, economic, and political importance.  Our stuff matters.  In their first issue of HLPR, the editors seem to agree. 

I don't know what the journal will take on next, but focusing on economic opportunity in the first issue gives me hope.


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