Law journals expand online

Two of Yale’s law journals are expanding their presence on the Web, strengthening the online companions to their print editions.

While the Yale Law Journal has published an online companion since 2005, this fall the editors revamped the content and design of their Web site, attempting more serious online-only content, making the Web site more navigable and providing multimedia supplements such as podcasts. The Yale Journal of International Law will provide online-only content for the first time next week. Editors for both journals said they hope this move will broaden their readership outside of purely academic communities to include practicing lawyers and provide more serious online content as readership increasingly moves to the Web.

In 2005, the Yale Law Journal launched “Pocket Part,” an online companion to the journal that published opinion articles and discussion forums, and in September, this year’s editors transformed it into the Yale Law Journal Online. Ben Taibleson LAW ’10, YLJ’s editor-in-chief said that the new YLJ Online will feature more online-only content than Pocket Part. Taibleson said he hopes to make the online content more “serious” by featuring longer pieces will be longer that are edited more intensively.

“The trend [toward online content] is happening. It’s almost inevitable,” Jeff Lee LAW ’10 , YLJ’s Managing Online Editor, said. “It is how we balance the two while retaining the quality and tradition of the articles.”

When Taibleson took over, he said he focused on the technical demands a law journal’s Web site would need.

“We wanted to make a Web site that was more navigable and professional looking,” Taibleson said. “The transition from print to the Internet is inevitable within the next 10 years. It was important that we make a Web site that could handle that transition.”

A vast number of competitive law reviews are enhancing their Web foundations. Prominent law schools such as Stanford, Harvard and Columbia have taken to the trend of online publications and are devoting a lot more time and energy into this field.

“We are now more likely to have our articles read by someone browsing the Web than by someone browsing the library,” Jacob Heller, the president of the Stanford Law Review, wrote in an e-mail.

The Yale Journal of International Law is also expanding their electronic presence, launching a new online supplement November 9. Despite being the oldest secondary journal published at Yale Law School, Jack Ross-Harrington LAW ’10, the publication’s co-editor-in-chief, said it was important to the 35th editorial board to update their Web presence and keep up with this trend in academic publishing. Ross-Harrington and his co-editor, Kathleen Claussen LAW ’10, initiated the complete overhaul of their Web site and will post online-exclusive articles and submissions.

“This new Web site is not only designed to reach a wider audience but also to capture a wider range of authors” Ross-Harrington said.

Both Ross-Harrington and Lee said their journals will engage a higher number of practicing lawyers, in addition to academics, through their online companions.

Manav K. Bhatnagar LAW ’09, who is currently working as a foreign policy advisor in the Senate, said online pieces have the advantage of being more timely.

“They provide a greater opportunity to write in responses to pieces and debate articles posted online,” he said. “It makes legal scholarship relevant to those that do not necessarily have the time or interest to read print publications.”

Still, Alex Kardon LAW ’10, a YLJ book reviews and features editor said some students still hold a preference for print publications.

“The content that appears in the online versions probably doesn’t get cited as much as those in the print version,” Kardon said. “But it does have regency and is a strong supplement to the printed editions.”

This is an impression that Ross-Harrington said he hopes the YJIL’s new online content can overcome.

“There is a fear, of course, that the quality of scholarship automatically decreases online,” Harrington said. “But due to databases and open source movements, when coupled with financial pressures of printing, and the limited audience attached, someday everything will go online.”

The Yale Law Journal is currently in its 118th year of publication.

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