Peer Review

A new journal aims to fill a gap in legal scholarship


Asia Kepka

Mark Ramseyer (left) and Steve Shavell are looking to publish the best legal scholarship from a variety of disciplines.

In the summer of 2007, HLS Professors Mark Ramseyer ’82 and Steven Shavell approached editors at Harvard University Press with the idea of starting a unique online venture: a broad-focused, faculty-edited journal with an open-access format, to provide first-rate legal scholarship to the widest possible audience.

In February the Journal of Legal Analysis was launched. Created in partnership with Harvard University Press and the John M. Olin Center for Law, Economics, and Business, it’s available free online. All posted articles will also be published once a year in bound volumes made available for purchase.

“Steve and I came up with this idea in casual conversation one day,” says Ramseyer, who serves as the journal’s editor-in-chief. Both professors had experience editing professional legal journals—Ramseyer, The Journal of Legal Studies at Chicago, and Shavell, the American Law and Economics Review. Says Ramseyer: “We wanted to see a faculty-edited, peer-reviewed journal that was not field-specific. This seemed like a good time to try.”

Ramseyer says the journal fills a gap left by student-edited law reviews, and he hopes it will make peer editing more universal for legal scholarship. Shavell, who serves as a co-editor, adds: “Peer-reviewed journals are the norm in all disciplines except for law.”

The editors aim to publish the best legal scholarship from a variety of disciplinary perspectives and styles, covering the span of the legal academy. The inaugural issue includes submissions as diverse as “Are Judges Overpaid? A Skeptical Response to the Judicial Salary Debate” by Stephen J. Choi ’94, G. Mitu Gulati ’94 and Eric A. Posner ’91; “Estimating the Effect of Damages Caps in Medical Malpractice Cases” by David A. Hyman, Bernard Black, Charles Silver and William M. Sage; and “Many-Minds Arguments in Legal Theory” by HLS Professor Adrian Vermeule ’93.

In addition to Shavell, who is director of the Olin Center at HLS, the co-editors are Richard Craswell of Stanford Law School; Mathew McCubbins of the University of California at San Diego; and Daniel Rubinfeld of the University of California, Berkeley. Scholars from various fields have signed on to be members of the 20-member editorial board, including HLS Professors Louis Kaplow ’81, Kathryn Spier, Cass Sunstein ’78 and Vermeule.

The journal is financially supported by Terence Considine ’71 and the Considine Family Foundation.

See the Journal of Legal Analysis website.


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