Chapman University Dale E. Fowler school of Law Associate Dean Donald Kochan’s article “
Virtual Liquid Networks and Other Guiding Principles for Optimizing Future Student-Edited Law Review Platforms
” was recently published in Volume 32, Number 2 of the
Touro Law Review
From the abstract:
This short essay was written for the Touro Law Review’s Associate Dean’s Symposium on “Student-Edited Law Reviews: Future Publication Platforms.” It maintains that the Associate Dean for Research has a responsibility to shape and develop the scholarly culture and intellectual life of the law school. Part of that charge should be to aid the student-edited law reviews in their contribution to that enterprise and to help those reviews evolve. In addition to their pedagogical value for the students (developing editing, reasoning, research, and writing skills), these reviews play a part in sending signals to the outside world of the scholarly commitment of a law school. And, most importantly, student-edited law reviews serve the higher value of distributing knowledge and disseminating legal thought that addresses doctrinal clarity, unpacks theoretical uncertainties, creates foundations for reform, or otherwise presents legal solutions to critical social issues.
The ideal direction for student-edited journals is toward multiple platforms that deliver law review-quality content – maintaining long form articles and welcoming useful, online shorter forms as well. But, the irreducible minimum requirements for judging what constitutes quality “legal scholarship” – measured by its originality and unique contribution the literature – should not change. So, the first guiding principle that should control student-edited law reviews as they adopt new platforms is simple: maintain the distinctive function of publishing legal content – uniquely as a “law review” – that has the rigor and other qualities to count as legal scholarship. The Essay describes ways to control against the risks of quality dilution.
The most innovative ways that law reviews can embrace the future include using new platforms and harnessing technologies to increase dialogue, exchange, and reasoning through what this Essay calls virtual liquid networks – drawing on lessons from Steven Johnson, Kevin Dunbar and others who have explained the concept of “liquid networks” where innovation emerges in the natural world through the collision between elements in the system and should operate similarly in intellectual spaces. Law reviews and other academic outlets should aim to create “unusually fertile” and “shared environments” that make possible “serendipitous connections” and allow for the improvement and completion of ideas.
This Essay spells out some of the architecture of student edited law review platforms that could serve this role. For example, beyond endorsing the concurrent or consecutive posting of response pieces at the same time as posting or printing main selected articles already being done at many reviews, the Essay outlines a proposal to innovate with virtual workshops and virtual roundtables that facilitate strong liquid networks that leave open room to improve scholarly works before publication of a “final” product. The idea here is to truly replicate, in virtual form, the physical roundtable or workshop concept to achieve even higher-order liquid networking effects. These proposed virtual liquid network platforms hold the possibility of helping authors produce works of legal scholarship substantially improved from the forms such works might take in the traditional, more sterile and inert publication platforms. Such virtual liquid network-based platforms also give student-edited law reviews a modern and expanded, service-oriented role in the continued production of useful scholarship.
Donald J. Kochan
currently serves as Associate Dean for Research and Faculty Development at Fowler School of Law. His scholarship focuses on areas of property, administrative law, natural resources, law & economics, and jurisprudence, among others. He has published more than 35 scholarly articles and essays in well-respected law journals. His work has been cited in more than 300 published law review articles.
In January 2016, Dean Kochan was elected as a new Member of the American Law Institute (ALI). He was also elected as a Life Fellow of the American Bar Foundation in 2014. Dean Kochan received the 2014 Valerie Scudder Award from Chapman University, a merit-based award selected by peers in recognition of outstanding achievement in scholarship, teaching, and service, and one of the highest honors given to a faculty member at the University. Among his numerous activities, Dean Kochan currently is a Contributing Editor of the “Keeping Current-Property” section in Probate & Property, the bi-monthly magazine of the Real Property, Trust & Estate Law Section of the American Bar Association; serves as the Chair-Elect for the Section on Property Law for the Association of American Law Schools; serves as the Vice-Chair of the Committee on Environment & Natural Resources Regulation for the ABA Section on Administrative Law & Regulatory Practice; and serves as an inaugural Co-Editor of the Property Section of JOTWELL.
Other articles by Dean Kochan on legal education issues include: ”
Thinking Like Thinkers: Is the Art and Discipline of An “Attitude of Suspended Conclusion” Lost on Lawyers?
Seattle University Law Review
1 (2011) and ”
“Thinking” in a Deweyan Perspective: The Law School Exam as a Case Study for Thinking in Lawyering
Nevada Law Journal