Image Credit: Iñaki del Olmo on Unsplash
Image Credit: Iñaki del Olmo on Unsplash

In the summer of 2018, the Dickinson Law Review published its inaugural issue, despite being a 123-year-old journal. The law review is getting a fresh start with a new name, having formerly published under the Penn State Law Review title. The renaming of the law review was inspired by Pennsylvania State University’s once merged law schools - the Dickinson School of Law and Penn State Law - separating to become two individually accredited law schools. Now, under a new name, the Dickinson Law Review is taking steps to highlight its esteemed past as one of the oldest American law reviews and taking steps to further the journal’s legacy.

In the interview below Michael Slobom, editor-in-chief of the Dickinson Law Review discusses the journal’s new start and his hopes for the publication.

Q&A with Michael Slobom

This summer you released the inaugural issue of The Dickinson Law Review, but the journal is actually one of the oldest law reviews in the nation - can you speak to that history and what it’s been like to re-launch such an established journal?

MS: The Dickinson Law Review has operated continuously in Carlisle, Pennsylvania since its inception in 1897. While the journal has undergone several name changes in its 123-year history, our research suggests that it is the fifth oldest American law review in continuous print. So while Volume 122 marked an exciting new chapter in our journal’s history, we do not consider it a re-launch. I believe Dickinson Law’s Dean Gary Gildin characterized it best: “Volume 122 marks the maiden voyage of the Dickinson Law Review under the banner of Penn State’s Dickinson Law, one of two fully and separately accredited law schools in the Penn State constellation.”

For the first 12 years of publication, the journal published as The Forum. While the early volumes established the journal’s foundation, they bore little resemblance to contemporary law reviews. The editors devoted most of the content to reporting the law school’s moot court cases as well as alumni and school news.

In 1898, Julia A. Radle, the law school’s first female student, became the first woman to serve as an editor of an American law review when she joined The Forum’s Editorial Board. Sara McBride Marvel, the law school’s second female student, succeeded Radle on the Editorial Board the following year.

The Forum changed its name to the Dickinson Law Review in 1908. By that point, the journal had been publishing articles for four years. The Law Review continued publishing under the Dickinson Law Review title for the next 94 years. In that time, the journal published articles written by influential legal scholars, practitioners, and jurists, including Samuel Williston, Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Michael A. Musmanno, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel A. Alito, Pam Karlan, U.S. Circuit Judge Karen Nelson Moore, U.S. Circuit Judge Diane P. Wood, Tony Kronman, Lawrence J. Fox, Robert MacCrate, and Marc Galanter.

In 2003, several years after the Dickinson School of Law and the Pennsylvania State University merged to form the Pennsylvania State University’s Dickinson School of Law, the Law Review began publishing under the Penn State Law Review title. For the next 13 years, students at the law school’s two campuses in Carlisle and University Park jointly produced the Law Review.

In 2016, the two Pennsylvania State University law school campuses split to form two separately accredited law schools, and the journal at the Carlisle campus returned to its proud heritage under the Dickinson Law Review title, while the journal at the University Park campus resumed publication as the Penn State Law Review.

To kick off this new stage in our history, we decided to reprint signature articles from the Law Review’s robust past that demonstrate Dickinson Law’s mission to educate and equip lawyers with the competencies necessary to “Practice Greatness.” That issue, which the current Editorial Board fondly refers to as our “greatest hits edition,” not only marks the latest chapter of the Law Review’s 123-year history but also serves as a reminder of the legacy established by the journal’s founders and continued by our predecessors.

We organized the articles included in Volume 122(1) around six themes:

  1. What Does It Mean to Be a Lawyer?
  2. Early and Ongoing Efforts to Help Shape the Law
  3. An Early and Ongoing Commitment to Experiential Education
  4. Reflections About Legal Education
  5. Facilitating Dialogue With and About the Profession
  6. Understanding and Improving Our Judicial System

We were pleased to reprint articles written by influential legal scholars, practitioners, and jurists, including Professors Samuel Williston, Nancy B. Rapoport, Anthony Kronman, Pamela Karlan, Deborah Hensler, Marc Galanter, Michael Joachim Bonell; Judges Ruggero Alidsert, Karen Nelson Moore, Lee Rosenthal, and Diane P. Wood; and lawyers Ward Bower, Larry Fox, and Robert MacCrate. The issue also includes a Foreword written by Professor Laurel Terry that provides some interesting history about our law school and law review.

In the first issue of The Forum, the editors wrote: “While we feel that a certain amount of pride may be taken in Volume I, Number 1, yet we promise better things in the future when the journal becomes more firmly established.” The Editorial Boards of Volumes 122 and 123 feel some degree of the same pride and excitement that the editors of Volume 1 felt. This new chapter has provided us the opportunity to reimagine the Law Review as the flagship journal of Penn State’s Dickinson Law.

What was the impetus for the re-debut of The Dickinson Law Review and how did the e-board approach the transition?

MS: The transition has been more daunting than one might expect for a journal that operated in Carlisle for 121 years. For example, we needed to obtain the University’s approval for new cover art, various contracts, and our new author agreements. Since our prior author agreements were written before the digital media boom, we took the opportunity to look at examples from other journals to establish best practices for our open-access policies. We are still in the process of building the Law Review’s new online Digital Commons, but we look forward to adding prior volumes to the webpage.

As part of the transition, we also needed to draft a new Constitution and Bylaws. The Editorial Board ultimately decided to adopt as its mission the advancement of the four core principles of Penn State’s Dickinson Law: teaching, scholarship, service, and community. We are particularly proud that our new Constitution includes the principle of “community.” One of the ways we try to fulfill this principle is ensuring a positive editorial experience for our authors.

Finally, we have taken a number of steps to reexamine our systems to ensure we are happy with them. Scholastica has been very helpful in this regard.

How has the law review changed over time in name and form and what has stayed the same?

MS: As mentioned above, the Law Review has undergone several name changes over the course of its 123-year history. The content produced in the early volumes of The Forum consisted of the law school’s moot court cases, as well as alumni and school news. Volume 122(2)includes Professor Peter Joy’s article entitled “The Uneasy History of Experiential Education in U.S. Law Schools.” It was interesting to see how the moot court publications, which are early examples of experiential education, fit into the broader legal education context. The Forum also reproduced the law school’s commencement addresses from June 1897 to June 1906.

Over time, the journal began producing content that resembles the type of content that we publish today. In November 1899, The Forum printed its first book reviews, which discuss two treatises: A Treatise on Criminal Pleading and Practice by Joseph H. Beale, Jr., and The Law of Pleading Under the Code of Civil Procedure by Edwin E. Bryant. The Forum published its first article in March 1904. The Dickinson School of Law’s Dean William Trickett wrote the article, which is entitled “Character-Evidence in Criminal Cases.” In 1915 and 1916, the Dickinson Law Review published companion articles by Dickinson Professor J.P. McKeehan and Professor Samuel Williston that analyzed three of the uniform acts that presaged the Uniform Commercial Code. In 1929, the journal published its first student-written notes.

Today, the Law Review publishes articles, essays, and book reviews by leading scholars, judges, and practitioners from around the country and world, as well as student-authored comments that analyze recent developments in the law.

What is your hope for this re-debut of the law review and what are your plans for the publication in the future?

MS: The Dickinson Law Review hopes to continue building upon our journal’s proud tradition of producing scholarship that contributes meaningfully to the study, practice, and innovation of the law. We think we have gotten off to a good start. Volume 122(2) includes an article by Professor Bill Henderson entitled “Innovation Diffusion in the Legal Industry.” In 2012 and 2013, National Jurist magazine named Professor Henderson the second-most influential person in legal education. The issue also included an article by Professor Carolyn Shapiro entitled “The Language of Neutrality in Supreme Court Confirmation Hearings.” Professor Shapiro is the founder and co-director of Chicago-Kent’s Institute on the Supreme Court of the United States. Volume 122(2) also included an article on ineffective assistance of counsel and an article entitled “The Strength of Digital Ties: Virtual Networks, Norm-Generating Communities, and Collective Action Problems.”

We are equally proud of Volume 122(3), which was devoted to our 2018 Symposium, entitled “Access to Justice: Innovations and Challenges in Providing Assistance to Pro Se Litigants.” The issue includes timely contributions by people who are leading or developing cutting edge innovations such as Washington’s Limited License Legal Technician program (Paula Littlewood and Steve Crossland), New York’s Court Navigator Program (Fern Fisher), Utah’s Online Dispute Resolution Program that launched in September 2018 (Justice Deno Himonas), and Minnesota’s Self-Help Appeals Clinic (Liz Reppe). It also includes an article about cutting edge immigration law developments from two lawyers who worked with the Legal Orientation Program in an immigration detention center that, until recently, was funded by the U.S. Department of Justice. These articles were framed by a powerful article by Forrest S. Mosten, Julie Macfarlane, and Elizabeth Potter Scully entitled “Educating the New Lawyer: Teaching Lawyers to Offer Unbundled and Other Client-Centric Services.”

Although Volume 123 has not yet come out in print, I am pleased to report that it is on schedule. We expect to publish the first issue of Volume 123 in October 2018, and we plan to publish the second issue in January 2019. We will devote the third issue to our 2019 Symposium, which is entitled “Discretion and Misconduct: Examining the Roles, Functions, and Duties of the Modern Prosecutor.” We expect to publish contributions from Bennett L. Gershman, Bruce A. Green, Shoba Sivaprasad Wadhia, K. Babe Howell, Leigh Goodmark, and Aaron L. Nielson. The event will take place on Friday, March 15, 2019, at Penn State’s Dickinson Law in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. We will continue posting information about the event on our information page.