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With New Blog, Law Review Makes Case For Online Content

Gannett House
Gannett House is home to the Harvard Law Review.

The Harvard Law Review launched a new online blog Tuesday aimed at providing more accessible, timely content alongside their usual long-form fare.

Known for their long essays and medium-length online articles, the Law Review’s new venture aims to provide a space for shorter, more informal pieces equally packed with stimulating legal commentary.

“We’ve been publishing long-form, in-depth analysis in our print volume for over a century,” said Kathleen S. Shelton, the Law Review's Blog Chair.

One of the most prestigious legal journals in the nation, the Law Review boasts a powerful alumni base including former U.S. President Barack Obama and Supreme Court Justices John G. Roberts, Jr. ’76 and Elena Kagan, a former Dean of the Law School.

Shelton said the addition of a blog format will help the Law Review reach a broader audience, “not just other law professors, judges, other law students or legal practitioners, but also people who are interested in these issues because they impact their lives and communities.”

Shelton also attributed the Law Review’s decision to a growing online legal community, which she called a “valuable place” for legal debate.

“We thought now we have the capacity, resources, desire to do it. It felt like the right time to try,” Shelton said.

While the current blog authors featured are mainly professors and legal practitioners, Shelton said the Law Review aims to address a variety of issues and is considering adding student voices.

Ingrid V. Eagly, a professor at the UCLA School of Law who wrote a recent post for the blog, said long-form law review articles can be difficult for readers without legal experience to understand.

“[Long-form pieces] don’t reach as many readers even though they contain important ideas, so having an alternative format may allow them to reach a broader audience,” Eagly said.

Eagly noted that long-form publications can result in “a lag between when ideas are generated and when they reach the public.”

Shelton said the blog would allow for more frequent publication due to the reduced writing and editing time required for blog posts.

“Instead of a six-month editing process, we’re talking about a day,” she said.

Harvard Law professor Jack L. Goldsmith and legal journalist Benjamin Wittes wrote in a Tuesday post that the new medium will “foster better debates.”

“Blogs are not, as they are often dismissed to be, shallow,” Goldsmith and Wittes wrote. “Of course they can be, just as an 80-page article can be. But to write well in this format, one must be expert enough to articulate the heart of an argument quickly and persuasively. That is not easy.”

“The ratio of insights to words...is usually very low in the traditional law review format,” they added.

Ultimately, though, Shelton said the blog will remain secondary to the printed journal itself.

“There’s tremendous value in the long-form, in-depth analysis that happen in our articles, so we would never forsake that. We see this more as a complement to that,” Shelton said.

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