Law Schools

Was Chief Justice Roberts Right? Law Review Circulation Reaches New Lows


Are law review articles so boring that no one wants to pay to read them?

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. expressed his views last year at a judicial conference. “Pick up a copy of any law review that you see, and the first article is likely to be, you know, the influence of Immanuel Kant on evidentiary approaches in 18th Century Bulgaria, or something,” Roberts said.

Readers may share his lack of enthusiasm. A review by George Mason University law professor Ross Davies shows paid circulation numbers continue to tank, TaxProf Blog reports. In 2011, no major law review had more than 2,000 paying subscribers, according to Davies, editor of The Green Bag.

The numbers are at a record low since the U.S. Postal Service began requiring law reviews to track circulation. The top law review, published by Harvard, had 10,895 subscribers in 1963-64. In 2010-11, the number had dropped to 1,896.

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