by Jeff Sovern
I wanted to know if the law reviews in elite schools that teach consumer law have published more consumer law articles in the last five years than law reviews in elite schools that don’t offer the course. Consequently, I asked a research assistant, Sara Krastins, to look at the articles published in law reviews of three schools that offered a consumer law course in both the 2014 and 2019 surveys—Harvard, Virginia, and Berkeley–and the law reviews of three schools that didn’t– Stanford, Yale, and Columbia. First I will report what Sara found, and then some methodological limits. But here’s the short version: if you want to publish in one of these six journals, subject to the methodological limits described below, you had better be at one of the schools that publish the journals, be a superstar professor at Yale or Michigan, or co-author an article with one. Oh, and whether the school offers a course in consumer law doesn’t seem to make a difference. But just as with our look at what schools offer consumer law, this is just a first cut at the matter and we welcome corrections. More on that below.
As for schools that don’t offer consumer law, Sara found two consumer law articles in Stanford, both written or co-authored by Yale superstar professors (Ian Ayres and Alan Schwartz), and none in Yale or Columbia. She counted 225 articles in the three law reviews during the relevant period, meaning that less than 1% of the law review articles they published were on consumer law. If you ignore articles authored by Yale superstars, you end up with zero.
What about at the schools that teach a consumer law course? Harvard published one, co-authored by Robin Bradley Kar of Illinois and Margaret Jane Radin of Michigan—another superstar professor (and Kar is pretty impressive too). Virginia also published one, but it was by one of their own professors. Berkeley also had one, by Ted Mermin, who as regular readers of the blog know, is the Interim Executive Director of Berkeley’s Center for Consumer Law and Economic Justice. So we have three articles out of a collective 275 or (drumroll) 1%. And the three articles were all written or co-authored by a superstar professor or a person already at the school that published it.
And here are the totals from all six journals: five consumer law articles of 500 or 1%. Consumer law articles not written or co-authored by a superstar professor or someone at the school publishing it: zero.
Now the methodological limits: Sara based her conclusions on reading article titles and abstracts. If she couldn’t tell from those that an article dealt with consumer law, she excluded it, so articles that dealt with consumer in their text but not in the abstract or title would not have been included. In addition, Sara, as a 2L, probably has an incomplete understanding of what consumer law deals with (just as 2L law review editors probably don’t have a complete understanding of the value of consumer law articles), so she may have excluded articles because she didn’t realize they addressed consumer law. We also excluded pieces that appeared solely online, and pieces not described as articles, meaning that essays, reviews, and reflections were not included. The survey considered only articles that Sara could find before April 11, 2019. If you know of an article on consumer law that appeared in one of these law reviews from 2014-2019, please let me know so we can add it.
UPDATE: David Noll of Rutgers has reminded me of his arbitration article in the California Law Review–so that makes six.