New online law journal created by University of Miami law professor

November 2nd, 2009
University of Miami School of Law Professor A. Michael Froomkin has created an online law journal titled Jotwell (The Journal of Things We Like (Lots)) to help lawyers and legal academics figure out what to read, not only in their own area of specialization, but also outside it.

Jotwell will "identify, celebrate and discuss" the best new legal scholarship in a variety of fields, as selected by a distinguished board of legal editors. It is a rare attempt by legal scholars to praise—rather than criticize—others' work. "We will not be afraid to be laudatory," declares the Jotwell Mission Statement. Prof. Froomkin notes that legal academics are more accustomed to dismembering others' theories than to praising them, and that few review essays get published, making it hard for readers to find what they need to read.

Jotwell aims to fill this gap. Currently there are about 350 law reviews in North America, not to mention relevant journals in related disciplines, foreign publications, and new online pre-print services. "Never in legal publishing have so many written so much, and never has it been harder to figure out what to read," Prof. Froomkin said. At the same time, he pointed out, "great articles sometimes appear in relatively obscure places."

As a result, "other than asking the right person, there's no easy and obvious way to find out what's new, important and interesting in most areas of the law," he said. Jotwell will try to accomplish this objective by being organized into sections—each reflecting a subject area of legal specialization, each with its own URL, and each managed by a pair of editors who will have independent editorial control over it. In addition, it will have a blog-like space for conversation and feedback. As Prof. Froomkin pointed out, it is designed for new generation of scholars "who have adapted to the digital world."

The Editors of each section have chosen a team of "Contributing Editors" who are known as leaders in their fields. Each of these editors will write at least one essay of 500-1000 words per year in which they identify and explain the significance of one or more significant recent works.

Current section editors include: " Administrative Law (A. Michael Froomkin, Paul Verkuil) " Constitutional Law (Patrick Gudridge) " Corporate Law (Caroline Bradley, William Wilson Bratton) " Criminal Law (Donna Coker, Jonathan Simon) " Cyberlaw (A. Michael Froomkin, James Grimmelmann) " Intellectual Property (Pam Samuelson, Christopher Sprigman) " Legal Profession (John Flood, Tanina Rostain) " Tax Law (Allison Christians, George Mundstock) ."

As to whether law professors are really ready to praise each other, Prof. Froomkin says optimistically that although some editors admitted it would be a change, most seemed to relish the challenge.

Source: University of Miami

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