Thursday, February 02, 2006

Startling Statistics about Law Review Subscriptions

The 2006 Green Bag Almanac reports (at p. 260) that subscriptions to the "top ten" U.S. student-edited law reviews have declined in the following way from 1979-80 to 2004-05, respectively:

Yale:

4462 and 2579
Harvard:
9064 and 3451
Stanford:
1546 and 1112
Columbia:
4014 and 1875
NYU:
2105 and 1209
Chicago:
2068 and 1845
Pennsylvania:
2250 and 1180
Michigan:
2950 and 1419
Virginia:
2506 and 644
Northwestern:
1826 and *
The above asterisk [*] means that "data is missing for this year." Circulation figures for Northwestern's law review were missing from 1995-96 through 2004-05, for ten years. The last reported circulation figure for that journal was 723, in 1994-95, which was then the lowest of the "top ten."
Do the above statistics mean that major US law journals are being consigned to history's dustbin? Or does it merely mean that readers are accessing the journals with LEXIS or WESTLAW?
  • The second hypothesis is not clearly supported by the statistics collected at p. 260: subscriptions began declining sharply before the internet became a standard method of doing legal research.
  • It would be interesting to see if "major U.S. courts" now cite law the "major law journals" less than they did in 1979-80.
  • The circulation for Stanford Law Review spiked to 8850 in 2000-01. Does anyone know why?
  • The figures show that Chicago's circulation declined less than that of other law journals. Of course the figures also show that few people ever subscribed to Chicago's law journal.
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