The Journal selects around forty-five editors annually from the rising second-year law school class, including summer starters and transfer students. Selection is based on a competitive process that takes into account an applicant’s writing sample, résumé, personal statement, and performance on editing exercises. Applicants are also required to identify an area of law in need of reform that could serve as the basis for a note.
The Journal is one of the oldest and most well respected law and policy publications in the nation. It publishes cutting-edge legal scholarship, by both academics and legal practitioners, that advocates concrete reform of existing law. In general, the Journal seeks to promote an interdisciplinary approach to law reform through the publication of empirical studies along with traditional legal scholarship. The Journal is not limited to a particular substantive area of the law and it is not affiliated with any ideological viewpoint. However, because it is devoted to the reform of U.S. domestic law, the Journal generally does not publish articles on international or comparative law.
The Journal also regularly sponsors symposia. These all-day events provide an in-depth examination of one area of law in need of reform, with presentations by some of the most prominent and compelling scholars in that field. The ideas presented at these symposia are then consolidated and published in article form in the Journal. Most recently, the Journal held a symposium titled, “The Uniform Probate Code: Remaking American Succession Law.” The symposium featured presentations from some of the most accomplished trust and estates lawyers and scholars from around the country.
Below are a selection of some of the most notable articles published by the Journal:
- Ellen Katz et al., Documenting Discrimination in Voting Under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act Since 1982, 39 U. Mich. J.L. Reform 643 (2006).
- Lawrence W. Waggoner, The Uniform Probate Code’s Elective Share: Time for a Reassessment, 37 U. Mich. J.L. Reform 1 (2003).
- Steven J. Markman, Forward: The Truth in Criminal Justice Series, 22 U. Mich. J.L. Reform 425 (1989).
- Herbert Hovenkamp, Derek Bok and the Merger of Law and Economics, 21 U. Mich. J.L. Reform 515 (1988).
- Senator Al Gore, Federal Biotechnology Policy: The Perils of Progress and the Risks of Uncertainty, 20 U. Mich. J.L. Reform 965 (1987).
- James Boyd White, Doctrine in a Vacuum: Reflections on What a Law School Ought (and Ought Not) to Be, 18 U. Mich. J.L. Reform 251 (1985).
- Wayne R. Lafave, Seizures Typology: Classifying Detentions of the Person to Resolve Warrant, Grounds, and Search Issues, 17 U. Mich. J.L. Reform 417 (1984).
- James J. White, Allocation of Scarce Goods under Section 2–615 of the Uniform Commercial Code: A Comparison of Some Rival Models, 12 U. Mich. J.L. Reform 503 (1979).
Established in 1968, the University of Michigan Journal of Law Reform finds its roots in a desire to propose constructive, well-reasoned reforms in all areas of the law. Originally named Prospectus: A Journal of Law Reform, the Journal’s founding editors planned the publication as a faculty-edited journal. The unanticipated passing of the journal’s first faculty editor, Professor Frank E. Cooper, however, transformed the Journal into the student-run publication that it is today.
Over the more than 40 years since the Journal’s birth in the 1960s, authors and their student editors have contributed to legal scholarship and law reform in numerous areas of the law. In the Journal’s inaugural issue, Professor Francis Allen summarized the publication’s purpose in the following way: “In short, it seeks to promote the improvement of law and its administration in all areas in which needs are disclosed and in which useful proposals can be advanced.” True to these words, the Journal’s Editorial Board has consistently sought out and published articles on a diverse range of legal issues, eschewing the narrow focus of many legal publications.
Finally, the Journal has sponsored numerous symposia in its lifetime, providing scholars and practicing attorneys an opportunity to publish articles of current interest and engage with their peers in productive debate. Previously, symposia have focused on jury reform, products liability law, school finance litigation, unemployment compensation, revitalization of American cities, market-oriented welfare reform, preservation of minority cultures, pornography, immigration and naturalization policy, and corporate governance. Most recently, the Journal collaborated with the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel to present “The Uniform Probate Code: Remaking of American Succession Law,” a symposium focusing on proposed reforms to the Uniform Probate Code.
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