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Author Topic: How Do You Read LR Articles?  (Read 1539 times)

,.,.,.;.,.,.

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How Do You Read LR Articles?
« on: January 10, 2009, 04:43:43 PM »
I've been reading Levmore's scholarship, particularly his essay in "Torts Stories" about Wagon Mound and foreseeability/causation analysis, and I think I've been reading all wrong all these years.  Suddenly, it hit me: I was reading it like it was a book, rather than trying to find the thesis and meat of the analysis before constructing the essay around it.

So how do you read LR articles?  Do you go for the gold?  Read it like a book?  Make a cup of coffee and peruse the footnotes for six hours before jumping into the main text?

Perhaps I might ask: how *should* you read LR articles?

Stole Your Nose!

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Re: How Do You Read LR Articles?
« Reply #1 on: January 10, 2009, 06:23:02 PM »
Depends on whose article you're reading and why you're reading it. 

When you get to be some important professor you can abandon conventional format; if you're a student you have to stick with it.  Reading a less "This article will X, Y, and Z" article is generally more enjoyable.  If it's a famous judge or professor who can actually write, sit back with a cup of coffee and peruse the footnotes as needed.

If you are reading for research, after a few similar articles you can start to skip the backgrounds and head straight to argument.  If you're drawing something from a student piece, read every footnote in the sections that matter to you. (Students are especially likely to make a strong assertion, then throw in a "see" cite to some state court case that's barely relevant.)  The less reputable the journal, the more skeptical I am.

If you are evaluating an article to determine its worthiness for publication, you read the abstract, the roadmap, skip to the argument, and evaluate whether 1) the writing is bad and 2) the argument sucks or not/is original or not.  If bad, throw away and then send a form letter to the author... (If really bad, forward to friends).  And, while it's not always fair to the author, I do read the CV after the abstract.

If it's not enjoyable, I generally don't feel like I need to read the whole article.  Jump in and take out the chunk that is useful for your purposes and move on. 

A.

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Re: How Do You Read LR Articles?
« Reply #2 on: January 11, 2009, 07:57:00 AM »
If you have to "try[] to find the thesis," then it's a poorly written article.  Of course, that wouldn't surprise me, as 99% of them are, imho.  But read them like you would any other piece of scholarly research: find their thesis, read their arguments, and then evaluate the support, if any, they provide for the argument.  But to be honest, most of it is BS and carries very little, if any, real-world weight.

And I disagree with the previous post about student scholarship.  I find it to be, in general, much more thoroughly supported and grounded than professorial scholarship.  Students are usually careful to make sure they don't go too far in left field and will at least try to find a citation for the assertion they're making.  Many profs just don't care.  They are Prof. X, and their simply stating a proposition is enough to lend it support.   But maybe this was a problem for my law review b/c it disproportionately attracted those types.

Stole Your Nose!

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Re: How Do You Read LR Articles?
« Reply #3 on: January 11, 2009, 10:36:04 AM »
There's a fundamental difference in legal scholarship vs. other disciplines.  We are expected to to have copious (excessive) footnotes, build upon other scholarship, and add nothing but a tiny, incremental contribution to the world of scholarship.  I'm all for having support, but legal scholarship is very, very constrained.  Luckily, the Professor X's of the world get to think outside of the box.  Legal scholarship is basically premised upon the idea that there are no new ideas; they occasionally get to contribute a completely new paradigm, even if somebody else hasn't thought of it before.

Also, some journals are more likely to contain articles useful to practicioners. (I suppose your "real world" articles.) Others are for academics (which also certainly can influence judges).  If you don't like the pursuit of knowledge and understanding for itself (even where it doesn't have "real world" application, which is fairly rare), then don't read academic works.

Also, you are really overestimating the thoroughness of student scholarship. It is usually based on limited research (it's hard to get a very deep hold on the scholarship already out there when you've got 3 weeks to write an article) and students, particularly in crappy journals, have difficulty putting things in perspective.  They often contribute nothing. (I'm annoyed with student scholarship; while researching my piece, I read several student notes that contributed absolutely nothing, got several things wrong, had major mistakes in the background which influenced the quality of their argument, misinterpreted cases, made a "contribution"/suggestion that was actually already in practice....)  It's also generally edited by students, who don't know enough about the very specific topic to tell the student writer that they are just plain wrong.

Matthies

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Re: How Do You Read LR Articles?
« Reply #4 on: January 11, 2009, 10:48:44 AM »

Also, you are really overestimating the thoroughness of student scholarship. It is usually based on limited research (it's hard to get a very deep hold on the scholarship already out there when you've got 3 weeks to write an article) and students, particularly in crappy journals, have difficulty putting things in perspective.  They often contribute nothing. (I'm annoyed with student scholarship; while researching my piece, I read several student notes that contributed absolutely nothing, got several things wrong, had major mistakes in the background which influenced the quality of their argument, misinterpreted cases, made a "contribution"/suggestion that was actually already in practice....)  It's also generally edited by students, who don't know enough about the very specific topic to tell the student writer that they are just plain wrong.


There is a BIG difference between a student “note” and student legal scholarship. Students can write great articles when they are doing it for the love of the subject and on their own. When they are required to write a note and do it in three weeks, not so much. I find most notes useless as scholarship, and but for most journals publishing them because they have to for their members, not comparable at all to real legal scholarship done by students who are actually doing it with on their own, becuase they have a keen intrest in the topic, and without the grantee of publication. I also generally find this to be more the case with topical journals rather than flagship journals, it’s easier for a student who has a real interest in the topic to add something that might be useful when the journal (and its readership) are focused on a specific area of law.
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Thistle

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Re: How Do You Read LR Articles?
« Reply #5 on: January 11, 2009, 10:57:23 AM »
only time i read the boring-ass things is when i'm researching and dont have any case law on a particular topic. 

non ex transverso sed deorsum


JD

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Re: How Do You Read LR Articles?
« Reply #6 on: January 11, 2009, 11:12:48 AM »
I've been reading Levmore's scholarship, particularly his essay in "Torts Stories" about Wagon Mound and foreseeability/causation analysis, and I think I've been reading all wrong all these years.  Suddenly, it hit me: I was reading it like it was a book, rather than trying to find the thesis and meat of the analysis before constructing the essay around it.

So how do you read LR articles?  Do you go for the gold?  Read it like a book?  Make a cup of coffee and peruse the footnotes for six hours before jumping into the main text?

Perhaps I might ask: how *should* you read LR articles?

I really doubt you'll be as passionate about your legal studies by next month.

Thistle

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Re: How Do You Read LR Articles?
« Reply #7 on: January 11, 2009, 11:15:02 AM »
I've been reading Levmore's scholarship, particularly his essay in "Torts Stories" about Wagon Mound and foreseeability/causation analysis, and I think I've been reading all wrong all these years.  Suddenly, it hit me: I was reading it like it was a book, rather than trying to find the thesis and meat of the analysis before constructing the essay around it.

So how do you read LR articles?  Do you go for the gold?  Read it like a book?  Make a cup of coffee and peruse the footnotes for six hours before jumping into the main text?

Perhaps I might ask: how *should* you read LR articles?

I really doubt you'll be as passionate about your legal studies by next month.


still happy about #4?   :P
non ex transverso sed deorsum


JD

Jets

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Re: How Do You Read LR Articles?
« Reply #8 on: January 11, 2009, 11:17:26 AM »
I've been reading Levmore's scholarship, particularly his essay in "Torts Stories" about Wagon Mound and foreseeability/causation analysis, and I think I've been reading all wrong all these years.  Suddenly, it hit me: I was reading it like it was a book, rather than trying to find the thesis and meat of the analysis before constructing the essay around it.

So how do you read LR articles?  Do you go for the gold?  Read it like a book?  Make a cup of coffee and peruse the footnotes for six hours before jumping into the main text?

Perhaps I might ask: how *should* you read LR articles?


I really doubt you'll be as passionate about your legal studies by next month.


still happy about #4?   :P

No. I hate #4. Thanks for reminding me to change that.

A.

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Re: How Do You Read LR Articles?
« Reply #9 on: January 11, 2009, 11:27:41 AM »

Also, you are really overestimating the thoroughness of student scholarship. It is usually based on limited research (it's hard to get a very deep hold on the scholarship already out there when you've got 3 weeks to write an article) and students, particularly in crappy journals, have difficulty putting things in perspective.  They often contribute nothing. (I'm annoyed with student scholarship; while researching my piece, I read several student notes that contributed absolutely nothing, got several things wrong, had major mistakes in the background which influenced the quality of their argument, misinterpreted cases, made a "contribution"/suggestion that was actually already in practice....)  It's also generally edited by students, who don't know enough about the very specific topic to tell the student writer that they are just plain wrong.


There is a BIG difference between a student “note” and student legal scholarship. Students can write great articles when they are doing it for the love of the subject and on their own. When they are required to write a note and do it in three weeks, not so much. I find most notes useless as scholarship, and but for most journals publishing them because they have to for their members, not comparable at all to real legal scholarship done by students who are actually doing it with on their own, becuase they have a keen intrest in the topic, and without the grantee of publication. I also generally find this to be more the case with topical journals rather than flagship journals, it’s easier for a student who has a real interest in the topic to add something that might be useful when the journal (and its readership) are focused on a specific area of law.

Exactly.  I wasn't talking about these "notes" or whatever they're called...my law review didn't do those.  The only published student scholarship (which, incidentally, we did call "notes") went through a vigorous round of vetting, and most are rejected.  Those that were published were of a high caliber, and were generally more enjoyable/useful to read (and edit) than the professors' articles.  They were a culmination of months of research and writing, usually in conjunction with one or more professors.

And the influence on judges is almost nil, outside of the academic-judges like Posner and Calabresi.  I should know...I currently work for a judge and have talked to other clerks.  The law clerks do most of the legal research, and guess how many times any of us has cited or even looked at the academic literature?  Zero.  But you don't have to believe me...just take a random sample of cases and count the number of law review articles cited.

I agree that the law reviews influence other academics...but that just starts the circle of uselessness all over again.  Every now and then an academic, like Cass Sunstein, has a real-world effect.  But 99% of the crap published won't make a bit of difference to anyone outside of the ivory tower...and it won't even make a difference to most of the people there.