Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Davies on the History of Law Journals

The Original Law Journals is a new essay by Ross E. Davies, George Mason University School of Law. It appears in Green Bag 2d (Winter 2009). Here's the abstract:
Commercially speaking, law journalism was a risky business in the early Republic. According to Frederick Hicks, of the 30 legal periodicals that went into business before 1850, 24 also went out of business before 1850. And of the six that survived into the second half of the century, five expired by 1866, leaving just one to carry on over the long term. (That one is the Legal Intelligencer of Philadelphia, which is still in operation today.) A simple recitation of Hicks's body count does not, however, reveal the full intensity of the semi-Hobbesian existence of those early journals. A few features of their experience merit a bit more attention. First, the very short lifespans. Second, the total number of failures. Third, the persistence of failure despite enthusiastic support from pillars of the bar. And fourth, the depths of obscurity into which those failed journals have tended to fall.

6 comments:

  1. The abstract is available at SSRN but efforts to download the article indicated it was not available. Will it be available soon? I am particularly interested in "The Monthly Law Reporter" published in Boston, beginning, as I recall, in the mid or late 1830s and ending about the time of the Civil War. I searched through the entire set for a research project and found much valuable information, including an article on the benefit of appointing rather than electing judges as well as an extensive critique of the Dred Scott decision. I hope the article is available soon via SSRN.

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  2. Downloading worked for me -- both last night and this morning. I would try again. Difficulties w/ SSRN access usually get resolved within a day.

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  3. I tried again and the download appeared to go through according to my register but then there appeared the following message:

    "There was an error opening this document. The file is damaged and could not be repaired."

    Thus, Acrobat could not present the document either to read or print. According to my register the number is: SSRN-id1351928.pdf

    Any way around this? I have had similar problems in the past, but not that often.

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  4. Well, I tried one more time, and for the third time successfully downloaded the paper. I also noticed that Davies' download count is going up, so others are also able to download. So something is going on on Shag's end.

    The document does take a while to download, so perhaps it has something to do with your connection speed. Or maybe the version of Adobe installed on your computer? I'm just guessing.

    The easiest way around a download problem is to send the author an e-mail and ask him if he'll send you a copy. For his address, see his SSRN page, which you can find by clicking on his name after you click over to the SSRN abstract.

    Good luck!

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  5. Shag--I had a similar problem and tried again to download it right after I got the error message and it worked the second time.

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  6. After AOL, Internet Explorer and Safari failed me, I was successful with Firefox. The article led me to Hicks' book, which I'll be browsing through for a few days on other aspects of researching law.

    Thanks for the help.

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