Law journals can benefit greatly from law librarian involvement in instruction and general guidance. One criticism of student-edited law journals is that students lack the knowledge to effectively edit and manage the journals. Librarians can assist in this area because as the students come and go, the librarians offer a more constant, stable knowledge base.
Librarian involvement can begin with prospective law journal students and extend well into their time on a journal.
Prospective law journal students generally take a scholarly writing course where they learn the ins and outs of writing a comment or casenote. Librarians can take an active role in the course by offering instruction on topic selection, preemption checking, and research geared toward scholarly articles. The librarians may also offer instruction on publishing strategies.
As an aside, I used the Law Review tab in Westlaw Classic extensively during this instruction. The Law Review tab has a nice, neat box for the Westlaw Classic resources specific to preemption checking and topic selection. Since Westlaw Classic will no longer be on academic accounts as of July 1, 2014, you may want to see this post on how to create custom pages on WestlawNext that work much like the tabs in Westlaw Classic.
Prospective law journal students learn valuable information during their scholarly writing course that lays the foundation for their time on a journal. Once the students are formal members of a journal, the librarian can offer an orientation session on how to use the law library for resource gathering during the cite-checking process. The librarian may also do an overview of The Bluebook.
Library instruction is just one part of the overall picture of working with a law journal. A librarian can also review articles chosen for publication and create a law journal library for source collection to facilitate cite-checking.
As many law journals start to contemplate an online-only environment, a librarian can also offer guidance on the proper method for archiving born-digital material. And a librarian can help the law journal members periodically review and revise their publication agreement.
There is a wealth of opportunity for librarians to assist law journals. For more information, please see:
Keele, B. J. & Pearse, M. (2012). How librarians can help improve law journal publishing . Law Library Journal, 104(3). 383-410.
How do you assist your law journals?