Celebrating 50 years of Valparaiso Law Review

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deans desk lyonAs I (and others) have written before, legal education is at a crossroads. We recognize the need to prepare our students for the practice of law; to train them not just in case-law analysis but in the myriad skills needed to practice law. Among them is mastering legal writing and research.

One of the educational challenges facing those of us in higher education (not just law) is teaching writing. The entry of what is often referred to as the millennial generation into higher education has shown a marked decrease in prior opportunities to write, to be critiqued, and sadly, even to have been instructed in the basics of grammar, sentence structure and syntax. Certainly those of us in legal education know and understand those challenges and are working to overcome them. Not only that, we are working to understand the ways that our students communicate and the technology they embrace, as it is imperative that we adapt to the many changes in our society.

One of the communication shifts we are seeing is the very public sharing of private information (both intentionally and not), along with the ability of anyone to make their thoughts public. We hear about the degradation of journalism and the lack of support for investigative reporting in favor of the quick-soundbite world. The place for thoughtful reflection, for scholarly inquiry and serious study often may seem beside the point. In that regard, a question that pops up from time to time is what is the point of law reviews? What do they accomplish, and who (if anyone) reads them?

There is no way to answer that question globally. Some law review articles are so abstract as to be inaccessible except to the writer and a small subset of other scholars. As noted in a New York Times article, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. said at a judicial conference, “Pick up a copy of any law review that you see and the first article is likely to be, you know, the influence of Immanuel Kant on evidentiary approaches in 18th-century Bulgaria, or something, which I’m sure was of great interest to the academic that wrote it, but isn’t of much help to the bar.”

Citations to law reviews by courts have decreased over the years as well. Yet, we still write them and believe them to be of use to the bar. And they are of use. Before the decision in Batson v. Kentucky holding that prosecution peremptory challenges cannot be used in a racially discriminatory way, there were law review articles written about the problem and its possible solution. Before Morgan v. Illinois, there were law review articles written about the one-sided nature of excusals for cause of those opposed to the death penalty but not those unable to consider anything else.

Did those articles cause the change? Well, that would be very hard to assess, but they certainly contributed to it, if in no other way than by giving capital punishment defenders and others a way to make an objection and create a record.

So, 50 years later, what has Valparaiso’s Law Review accomplished? The Valparaiso University Law Review has tackled such thought-provoking topics as the Americans with Disabilities Act, civil rights, cellphone use behind the wheel, immigration issues, child pornography, freedom of the press, con?ict of interest, regulation of the Internet, bioethics, and countless legal conundrums, addressing each with the rigor established under the vision of the first dean to establish the review, Alfred Meyer, and the early editors. The Women in the Law Symposium published in 1994 (Volume 28, Number 4) was a triumph. The issue featured lead articles by Sandra Day O’Connor, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and Valparaiso University Law School professor JoEllen Lind. “The emergence of women in legal education and legal practice is probably one of the most important things that’s happened in the United States over the past 50 years,” Professor Emeritus Bruce Berner (and one of the editors of that first edition) says. “That issue of the Law Review received a great deal of play in other law schools,” he comments, saying others wondered why they hadn’t thought of this idea themselves.

And what can it accomplish in the future? Berner remarks that over the years, he’s seen the Law Review — and all law reviews — feature “fewer big-picture articles,” addressing instead more “particularized issues.” He attributes this shift to the evolution of law itself. The body of law has grown immensely, he points out, such that law becomes “not so much an overall philosophy and very much about maintenance of smaller ideas, codi?cations.” He also suggests technology has changed the productivity and perspectives of practicing attorneys. Editorial lineups of law reviews, Berner believes, do and will continue to re?ect more intensive specialization today.

Law review articles serve our students, our faculty and the bar. They also give a voice to new ideas and to changes big and small that the law should contemplate (or not). Valparaiso University Law School points with pride at its first 50 years, and looks forward to its next.•

Andrea D. Lyon is dean and professor of law at Valparaiso University Law School. She joined the school in July 2014. The opinions expressed are those of the author.


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  1. How nice, on the day of my car accident on the way to work at the Indiana Supreme Court. Unlike the others, I did not steal any money or do ANYTHING unethical whatsoever. I am suing the Indiana Supreme Court and appealed the failure of the district court in SDIN to protect me. I am suing the federal judge because she failed to protect me and her abandonment of jurisdiction leaves her open to lawsuits because she stripped herself of immunity. I am a candidate for Indiana Supreme Court justice, and they imposed just enough sanction so that I am made ineligible. I am asking the 7th Circuit to remove all of them and appoint me as the new Chief Justice of Indiana. That's what they get for dishonoring my sacrifice and and violating the ADA in about 50 different ways.

  2. Can anyone please help this mother and child? We can all discuss the mother's rights, child's rights when this court only considered the father's rights. It is actually scarey to think a man like this even being a father period with custody of this child. I don't believe any of his other children would have anything good to say about him being their father! How many people are afraid to say anything or try to help because they are afraid of Carl. He's a bully and that his how he gets his way. Please someone help this mother and child. There has to be someone that has the heart and the means to help this family.

  3. I enrolled America's 1st tax-free Health Savings Account (HSA) so you can trust me. I bet 1/3 of my clients were lawyers because they love tax-free deposits, growth and withdrawals or total tax freedom. Most of the time (always) these clients are uninformed about insurance law. Employer-based health insurance is simple if you read the policy. It says, Employers (lawyers) and employees who are working 30-hours-per-week are ELIGIBLE for insurance. Then I show the lawyer the TERMINATION clause which states: When you are no longer ELIGIBLE! Then I ask a closing question (sales term) to the lawyer which is, "If you have a stroke or cancer and become too sick to work can you keep your health insurance?" If the lawyer had dependent children they needed a "Dependent Conversion Privilege" in case their child got sick or hurt which the lawyers never had. Lawyers are pretty easy sales. Save premium, eliminate taxes and build wealth!

  4. Ok, so cheap laughs made about the Christian Right. hardiharhar ... All kidding aside, it is Mohammad's followers who you should be seeking divine protection from. Allahu Akbar But progressives are in denial about that, even as Europe crumbles.

  5. Father's rights? What about a mothers rights? A child's rights? Taking a child from the custody of the mother for political reasons! A miscarriage of justice! What about the welfare of the child? Has anyone considered parent alienation, the father can't erase the mother from the child's life. This child loves the mother and the home in Wisconsin, friends, school and family. It is apparent the father hates his ex-wife more than he loves his child! I hope there will be a Guardian Ad Litem, who will spend time with and get to know the child, BEFORE being brainwashed by the father. This is not just a child! A little person with rights and real needs, a stable home and a parent that cares enough to let this child at least finish the school year, where she is happy and comfortable! Where is the justice?