The Book Review Issue: An Owner’s Guide

Law reviews have short memories. Other institutions count on long-term managers and well-kept files to preserve the experience of the past. But there is no remembrance of things past in an institution whose officers serve – fileless and frantic – for a single year. I want to use the opportunity this volume’s editors have kindly given me to contribute to the Michigan Law Review’s institutional memory. Editors past, present, and future may be curious about when and why the book review issue was conceived and born. I will briefly tell that story. More significantly, however, I want to relate the goals we originally had for that issue and to reflect on what its goals should be today. I believe these reflections should also interest readers of the Review. Law has confided its scholarly journals to students. But we lawyers and law professors retain a considerable interest in what those journals do, and we owe a considerable duty of aid to the novices on whom we have imposed this odd burden. Both that interest and that duty are well served by conversations in which we ask what law reviews should do and how they should do it. I hope this little essay can be a modest word of that kind.