Minnesota Law Review: A Catalyst for Legal Scholarship and Practice
After more than 100 years, Minnesota Law Review remains a major influence on scholarship and legal decision-making
Minnesota Law Review was ranked #11 among law reviews in the country, according to this year’s law journal rankings from Washington and Lee University School of Law. That marks a five-step jump from last year’s 16th place. But beyond this impressive ranking, the journal continues to make a lasting impact on the legal profession.
“The Minnesota Law Review has the privilege and responsibility to publish outstanding scholarship that will affect how the law works,” says editor-in-chief Philip de Sa e Silva ’24. “It is also a powerful learning opportunity for students. Every staffer and editor works incredibly hard to create the best publication we possibly can. We have the opportunity to engage with scholars and to create a tangible product that has a real effect on the world — and we get to do this work as early as our second year of law school.”
Published six times a year, the student-run Minnesota Law Review features articles by law professors and notes from law students. It includes a board of up to 39 student editors, who determine policies and procedures, and 39 student staff members.
“When I joined the Minnesota Law Review, I was stunned by how positive and meaningful the experience was,” de Sa e Silva says. “It has been a highlight of my educational experience. I have particularly appreciated Law Review’s strong sense of community and the chance to collaborate with other students. My colleagues and I want to build on what previous leaders have done to make sure the journal continues to be great for other students in the future.”
The Law School’s reputation for collegiality finds its way into the Law Review thanks to a culture where people are kind, respectful, and collaborative, says de Sa e Silva, who was a high school English teacher for eight years before starting at Minnesota Law. One of the goals is to preserve the author’s voice as much as possible through careful editing.
“We hear examples of how articles published in the Minnesota Law Review go on to shape policies out in the world,” de Sa e Silva says. “People in positions of power read the works we publish, which can affect their decision-making. That is profound.” He also notes that publishing in a journal as well regarded as the Minnesota Law Review can have a major impact on a professor’s career and case for tenure.
Established in 1917 by Henry J. Fletcher and William Reynolds Vance, the Minnesota Law Review was initially overseen by the law school in partnership with the Minnesota State Bar Association.“A well-conducted law review… ought to do something to develop the spirit of statesmanship as distinguished from a dry professionalism. It ought at the same time contribute a little something to the systematic growth of the whole law,” Fletcher wrote at the time.
Students began overseeing the publication in the 1950s, with the student-filled editor-in-chief role reinstated in the late 1980s.
“The journal has a rich history of law students who believe in the importance of this work and who do the best they can to create an outstanding publication,” says de Sa e Silva. “We feel a responsibility to use the Minnesota Law Review’s platform to make a positive difference in the law and to elevate the work of scholars trying to improve the law. Our reputation allows us to do that work even more effectively.”
Kristin Hickman, McKnight Presidential Professor in Law, Distinguished McKnight University Professor, and Harlan Albert Rogers Professor in Law, has advised the Minnesota Law Review staff for the last decade. She said being a part of the publication helps students improve research and writing skills, increase career opportunities, and form bonds with fellow students. She serves as a sounding board for editors when needed.
“The students on the Minnesota Law Review are smart, hardworking, and engaged,” she says. “The students run it. They have their own rules, bylaws, traditions and norms, and governing structure.”
Hickman says numerous articles published in the Minnesota Law Review have made an impact on the development of the law. In 2016, in honor of its 100th anniversary, the Law Review dedicated its symposium issue to reflections on several of its most cited and influential articles.
“One of the virtues of being ranked highly is that the staff largely have their pick among articles,” Hickman says. “It’s a position of prestige, privilege, and influence.”
Professor Alan Rozenshtein has now joined Professor Hickman as a faculty co-advisor for the journal.
“I was on my law review in law school and I know how important it is for legal scholarship,” Rozenshtein says. “To the extent that I can offer advice to make this a better experience for the students and a better experience for the legal academy, I am delighted to do that."”