Durham Statement on Open Access to Legal Scholarship

Earlier this month a group of law schools released a statement promoting open access publishing of law school journals. Called the Durham Statement on Open Access to Legal Scholarship, it was signed by representatives from Duke, University of Virginia, Georgetown University, University of Pennsylvania, Cornell University, Yale University, Stanford University, University of Texas, Columbia, Northwestern, Harvard, New York University, University of Chicago University of California — Berkeley, Barry University, University of Cincinnati, and Fordham University.

The undersigned believe that it will benefit legal education and improve the dissemination of legal scholarly information if law schools commit to making the legal scholarship they publish available in stable, open, digital formats in place of print. To accomplish this end, law schools should commit to making agreed-upon stable, open, digital formats, rather than print, the preferable formats for legal scholarship. If stable, open, digital formats are available, law schools should stop publishing law journals in print and law libraries should stop acquiring print law journals. We believe that, in addition to their other benefits, these changes are particularly timely in light of the financial challenges currently facing many law schools.

This is significant because the primary publication of legal theory is by law school journals, commonly called law reviews. Law reviews are subsidized by their host institutions, so those host institutions clearly have a stake in finding economically sustainable paths for the publications. (Law reviews are also unique in that they are edited and managed by law school students; is there another profession where the vehicles of scholarship are run by students?)

Hat tip to Dan Cohen for noting this announcement.