Duhaime's Law Dictionary


Law Journal Definition:

A scholarly or academic publication presenting commentary of emerging or topical developments in the law, and often specializing in a particular area of the law or legal information specific to a jurisdiction.

Related Terms: Law Report, Legal Citation, Public Domain Citation

Also known as:

  • legal periodicals;
  • legal journals; or
  • law review.

A scholarly or academic publication presenting commentary of emerging or topical developments in the law, and often specializing in a particular area of the law or specific to a jurisdiction.

The information is presented in the form of essays or articles.

Law journals are usually published by one of the following sources:

  • Those edited and published by students at a law school such as the Harvard Law Review;
  • Those edited and published by a commercial law publisher; and
  • Those edited and published by a law association such as a bar association or law society, such as The Advocate (published by the Vancouver Bar Association).

sample law journalThe Advocate raises an important distinction as it is part law journals and part law or legal magazines. Many legitimate law journals have occasionally compromised their content with some form of generic legal information, magazine-like content. This is a consistent feature of law journals which are published by law societies or bar associations.

Historically, law journals have been presented in newspaper format (this is also true for some law reports).

Writing in the inaugural edition of the Malawi Law Journal in 2007:

"Law journals are critical to the proper functioning of legal systems. They contribute invaluably to the development of the law by influencing statutory law reforms and case law.... Law reviews, it may be added, also perform the important function of facilitating access to the law....

"(A law) journal offers an opportunity for unbiased reflection on specific legal issues, which is critical to the proper development of the law."

Justice Stanley Fulg once wrote of law review/law journals:

"Such work ... has earned the real respect of the bench. We admire the law review for its scholarship, its accuracy, and above all, for its excruciating fairness. We are well aware that the review takes very seriously its role as judge of judges - and to that, we say, more power to you. By your criticisms, your views, your appraising cases, your tracing the trends, you render the making of new law a little easier. In a real sense, you thus help to keep our system of law an open one, ever ready to keep pace with changing social patterns."1

REFERENCES:

  • Cohen, M. and Cohen, K., Legal Research, 8th Ed.  (St. Paul: Thomson-West, 2003), page 37-42. 
  • Mersky, R. and Dunn, D., Fundamentals of Legal Research, 8th Ed. (New York: Foundation Press, 202), pages 363-395.
  • Mills, Robin and Schultz, Jon, South Carolina Legal Research Handbook (Buffalo: William Hein, Law Book Publishers, 1970), page 14.
  • NOTE 1: Stanley H Fulg, Stanley H., A Judge Looks at the Law Review, 28 New York University Law Review 918 (1953)

Always looking up definitions? Save time with our search provider (modern browsers only)

If you find an error or omission in Duhaime's Law Dictionary, or if you have suggestion for a legal term, we'd love to hear from you!