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Tuesday, April 24, 2007

"Evaluate Me!"

The Connecticut Law Review will shortly be launching its own entry into the ranks of online law review supplements.  Here is a draft of my contribution to the opening issue, which will also feature contributions from other Prawfsblawg contributors.  The paper is titled "'Evaluate Me!': Conflicted Thoughts on Gatekeeping in Legal Scholarship's New Age."  And here's the abstract:

This short contribution to the Connecticut Law Review's new online supplement, CONNtemplations, offers some thoughts on status and gatekeeping in the online age of legal scholarship. Bloggers, SSRN, and online law review supplements like this one have increasingly routed around and weakened, if not undermined, the traditional gatekeepers who certified legal scholars and their scholarship. Is this a good thing?

The paper proceeds by examining this question in light of a pair of opposing views and values. The first is Julius Getman's discussion of the eternal tension between elitism and egalitarianism in the life of the scholar. The second is a pair of comments on the role of blogs and other online media in legal scholarship -- a positive and optimistic comment by Larry Solum, and a more pessimistic and critical view presented by Brian Leiter. Ultimately, I tend to agree with Solum's optimistic view: the online age has provided new thinkers and writers with multiple routes around the old gatekeepers, and this development should be welcomed.

At the same time, I suggest candidly that many legal scholars who have benefited from blogs and other online media (including myself) have used those new media to seek certification and enhanced status from the same traditional gatekeepers that we have criticized. In Getman's terms, we have "talked" egalitarianism and "done" elitism. The old tension continues. I link this tension to a variety of broader phenomena: the insecurity of the legal academic, the legal academy's increasing fixation with rankings, and the "economy of prestige."

Comments are welcome, as always.  Enjoy.   

Posted by Paul Horwitz on April 24, 2007 at 12:23 PM in Article Spotlight | Permalink


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