Art, Law Reviews, Law Schools

Hey, Fourth Tier: We Do Not Need Coloring Book Law Journals

For editorial use only.

When I signed on to write full-time for Above the Law, I thought that I might be able to make some of our readers and commenters see the sunnier side of things at lower-ranked law schools. I had a very positive experience, and I don’t have very many regrets about the school I chose to attend.

But sometimes lower-ranked law schools do things that make even me cringe.

News came to us that the University of the District of Columbia David A. Clarke School of Law has created what the school is calling an Illustrated Law Journal. UDC Law’s new journal aspires to provide visual illustrations of laws and legal concepts so that laypeople and jurists can get a handle on the law in the world around them.

In other words: “Hey John Q. Public, you’re pretty dumb, here’s a comic book about law.”

When about 95% of the legal profession is centered around the written word, why do we need a coloring book law journal?

UDC Law’s Illustrative Law Journal has four admirable goals, and two of them seem like they might work. They want to educate the public, assist jurists, generate a critical authority, and develop visual jurisprudence.

A handy-dandy Illustrated Law Journal could definitely help jurists and the public to better understand the law. A while ago when I was stopped at a traffic light, some kids handed me an illustrated pamphlet that showed me exactly why Jesus would be mad if I decided to be gay. I imagine that UDC Law’s Illustrated Law Journal would be similar, and just about as helpful.

But generating a critical authority and developing visual jurisprudence? While UDC Law will definitely be able to become “a new-media legal authority on illustrations of laws and legal concepts,” it’s not something that they really should be proud about. UDC Law is the only law school that thinks the legal community needs an illustrated journal.

Sure, property reversion is fine, but judges probably aren’t going to start handing out Microsoft Paint images of legal concepts like murder or rape in the near future.

And what about the UDC Law students? This is kind of like a big slap in the face for them. I wouldn’t go home bragging to my parents about my school’s cartoon law review. To me, it smacks of: “Not only do we go to a fourth tier school, but we can’t read good, so our secondary law journal is full of pretty, pretty pictures. Yay!”

And if I was a member of the UDC Law Review, Student Law Journal, or Clinical Law Journal, I would be extremely pissed off. All of those journals require students to grade on or write on. How exactly does one become a member of the Illustrated Law Journal? Is UDC Law planning to incorporate a “draw on” competition in their journal selection process?

And just how good of an artist do you need to be in order to “draw on” to the Illustrated Law Journal? Are we talking about more than just the ability to color within the lines, or what? Further, can I be on the Illustrated Law Journal? Here look, I drew a picture:

UDC Law, please let me know if I can add another journal publication line to my résumé. I eagerly await your response.

About the Illustrated Law Journal [Illustrated Law Journal | UDC Law Review]

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