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posted by Bob Lawless

If you will indulge me, I will engage in a little self-promotion this morning. The most recent issue of the American Bankruptcy Law Journal (p. 523, vol. 80) has an article that I co-write with Ira David entitled "The General Role Played by Specialty Journals: Empirical Evidence from the Bankruptcy Scholarship." Here is a summary of the findings from the article:

Our data confirm much of what scholars have long suspected. All things being equal, to get cited in the law reviews one should publish in general law reviews and join the faculty of a highly ranked school. Highly ranked general law reviews get cited more than lower ranked general law reviews. In turn, general law reviews as a group get cited more frequently than specialty journals as a group. Legal academics get cited more than nonacademics. Academics at highly ranked schools get cited more than academics at lower ranked schools.

When it comes to citations in the case law, the situation is dramatically different. Academics are not generally favored, but academic reputation is favored. More interestingly, not only do specialty journals outperform general law reviews overall, but lower-ranked general law reviews outperform law reviews from more highly ranked law schools. Older articles have more citations in the case law than do newer articles, whereas the converse is true for citations in the law reviews.

The article supports the conjecture that general law reviews have moved away from articles that the bench and bar will find useful. As we write, "General law reviews specialize in the academy just as specialty journals could be seen as specializing in the bench and bar." Although we limited our research to bankruptcy specialty journals and although there always will be specific exceptions to generalized empirical findings, the work may have broader relevance beyond the bankruptcy field.

We never posted the article to the Social Science Research Network or SSRN so this should be new to everyone. There are responses from Judge Thomas L. Ambro, a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit and Blake Rohrbacher, an attorney at Richards, Layton & Finger. Both discuss the relative lack of interest in judicial citations of law review articles.


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  • As a public service, the University of Illinois College of Law operates Bankr-L, an e-mail list on which bankruptcy professionals can exchange information. Bankr-L is administered by one of the Credit Slips bloggers, Professor Robert M. Lawless of the University of Illinois. Although Bankr-L is a free service, membership is limited only to persons with a professional connection to the bankruptcy field (e.g., lawyer, accountant, academic, judge). To request a subscription on Bankr-L, click here to visit the page for the list and then click on the link for "Subscribe." After completing the information there, please also send an e-mail to Professor Lawless (rlawless@illinois.edu) with a short description of your professional connection to bankruptcy. A link to a URL with a professional bio or other identifying information would be great.