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April 22, 2009

Too much of a good thing at the new site The Legal Workshop?

I am pleased to report on a new scholarly on-line project (which I hope will evolve to better achieve its laudatory goals).  The project is the Legal Workshop, and here is its basic mission statement:

The Legal Workshop is a website providing a single online forum for cutting-edge legal scholarship from the top law journals in the country....

The Legal Workshop features “op-ed” versions of the articles published by the member journals. These concise and lively pieces are written for a generalist audience, combining the best elements of print and online publication.

Each Legal Workshop Editorial undergoes the same rigorous editorial treatment and quality screening as the journals’ print content, but readers are able to offer comments and esteemed academics have the option of submitting response pieces, which are checked for citations and substance.

By aggregating the work of multiple law reviews, The Legal Workshop is able to provide frequently updated content. New article-based content is posted every Monday and most Wednesdays and Fridays. The Legal Workshop provides a one-stop forum for readers wishing to stay abreast of contemporary legal scholarship.

Larry Solum has a terrific early analysis here, which includes these three spot-on reactions:

First, the basic idea of creating an outlet for short-form legal scholarship is to be applauded....

Second, I am a bit skeptical of the ambitious claims in the press release about reaching "the general public."...

Third, I am also skeptical about potential for the format of "The Legal Workshop" to produce pieces that will directly influence practitioners -- lawyers and judges, who are most interested in descriptive doctrinal scholarship.

The fact that there is currently only this single criminal law piece now posted on the site, and that it runs nearly 4000 words and proposes a radical change to modern habeas law, confirms all that Larry has to say about this new project.  It is great to have a short-form version of this 70-page habeas article from the Duke Law Review, but I doubt that either the general public or practitioners are going to find the short-form version much more useful and accessible than the long form version. 

Plus, on a very practical level, I will be much less likely to cite the short-form version of the article inbecause its cite form -- which much include this cumbersome URL: http://legalworkshop.org/2009/03/18/habeas-corpus-and-state-sentencing-reform-a-story-of-unintended-consequences -- is much longer than the cite form for the full article.

Posted by DAB

April 22, 2009 in Scholarship -- online | Permalink

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