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Online Student Journal Kindles Timely Scholarly Discussions

The Rutgers Law Record has added another distinction to an already diverse group of student journals that are published at Rutgers School of Law–Newark: It is the first general-interest law journal to be published entirely online. While other law journals use the Internet to circulate their articles, they generally either post previously
Law Record members   
Law Record members Michael Corcoran and Sarah Nuffer 
published articles or publish articles within a specific area. The Record was the first to use the Internet as a medium for disseminating articles on any legal topic and, to this day, it is one of the only general-interest law journals to be published exclusively online and be run entirely by students.

Rutgers Law Record was created by students in 1996 at the request of then Dean Roger Abrams and was meant to fill a void that was left by the defunct student newspaper. Since that time it has undergone a few changes, but has generally used the same format. The journal staff selects a broad legal area and publishes ground-breaking articles from practitioners, judges and academics with expertise in that area. Recent issues have focused on emerging trends in employment law and the legal issues surrounding the war in Iraq. Because it is published online, the Record enjoys a greater level of flexibility in publishing and can stimulate discussion on current legal topics. In addition, the online format enables the journal to provide access to an article’s sources, publish timely responses to controversial legal opinions, offer a forum for debate by allowing readers to comment on articles, and increase awareness by permitting articles to be posted on social networking websites like Facebook and Twitter.
  Law Record members 
  Left to right: Israel Burns, Jason Hyndman, and Charlie Shelton 

This semester, the Rutgers Law Record has continued to realize its goal of fostering legal scholarship discussion. In the spring of 2009, Professor John Quigley authored a piece for Volume 35, Legal Implications of Operation Cast Lead, titled “The Palestine Declaration to the International Criminal Court: The Statehood Issue.” This note posited that Palestine is currently a state for purposes of international law. Professor Robert Ash contacted the Law Record and asked to submit a critique of Professor Quigley’s assertion regarding Palestinian statehood. In response to Professor Ash’s piece, Professor Quigley has submitted a follow-up critique.

The staff of the Record hopes that this kind of “back-and-forth” between legal scholars will lead to the development of new ideas in law and policy. Indeed, the authors have challenged each other’s assertions, forcing each to fully develop and explore his own argument. The Record’s goal is to foster this kind of scholarly debate in groundbreaking areas of law.

Rutgers Law Record editor-in-chief Sarah Nuffer ’10 hopes that substantive debates such as the present exchange between Professors Quigley and Ash will help serve as an impetus for the traditional law review format to move forward. “Rather than reading pieces that were authored several months, or at times years, before they are published, our format allows an author to write a piece and within weeks have the piece published,” explains Nuffer. “Additionally, as we publish online, we can invite comments from scholars and practitioners, and publish these comments in the same volume as the original piece. Adding a new piece to a volume is as simple as a few mouse clicks.”
Law Record members   
Left to right: John Visconi, Jarrett Seidler, and Karla Colon  

Nuffer continues: “While the traditional format is an institution that will always have its place within legal scholarship, we feel our more timely pieces add a new and exciting dimension to the law review genre — allowing people to comment on events within weeks of when they occur. We are excited to see all that can be done with this new format, and look forward to adding a new forum to legal scholarship.”

To further this goal the journal has launched a new website, designed by Corey Roe, a third-year law student and member of the Rutgers Law Record.

In addition to publishing several issues on a variety of topics throughout the year, the Rutgers Law Record also organizes and hosts a yearly symposium at which legal scholars, policy makers, and other individuals can gather to discuss and consider issues within the international legal community. In 2008, the journal hosted a symposium titled “Iraq at the Crossroads: Protecting Refugees, Rescuing our Allies, and Empowering Iraqi Law.” Speakers included legal scholars, a national best-selling author, military personnel, and legal practitioners who were involved in the trial of Saddam Hussein.

On April 23, 2010, the Rutgers Law Record will host a symposium that will focus on the problem of lead paint poisoning in the United States and the role that the legal community can play in assisting those affected.