Working Paper No. 11-01:
The Dipping Point: Law Review Circulation 2010

Author(s):

Ross Davies

Date Posted: January 2011

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Abstract:

For the past couple of years we have needled the Harvard Law Review (HLR) about its tendency to err on the side of inflation when describing the size of its subscriber base. So, it seems only fair now to salute the HLR’s recent correction, and to note that the extravagant circulation claims made these days by the Virginia Law Review make the HLR’s old claims seem downright modest. This year we are offering two new perspectives on the law review business. The first is really just a bigger version of an old one. We have added several law schools’ flagship law reviews to our little tables of journal circulation rates. The newcomers are: Boston University Law Review, Emory Law Journal, Minnesota Law Review, Indiana Law Journal, Illinois Law Review, Notre Dame Law Review, Boston College Law Review, Iowa Law Review, William and Mary Law Review, George Washington Law Review, Fordham Law Review, Alabama Law Review, North Carolina Law Review, Washington Law Review, Washington and Lee Law Review, Ohio State Law Journal, UC Davis Law Review, Georgia Law Review, Wisconsin Law Review. We also corrected a few errors in earlier versions of the tables and filled in a few blanks, an exercise that will doubtless be repeated in the future. The second new perspective is a look at the distant past, when only a few law reviews published any circulation numbers. A casual review of some of those early numbers, in tandem with an equally casual glance at the advertising pages of those early law reviews, provides an ironic reminder of a plausible piece of conventional wisdom about the decline in sales of print editions of law reviews: that the decline has been and is being caused by the rise of searchable electronic databases and of an Internet via which to conveniently tap into those databases.