The Tulane Law Review was established in 1916 as the Southern Law Quarterly. The law school’s twelfth dean, Dr. Rufus Carrolton Harris, started the Quarterly. The first article, entitled “Louisiana: The Story of Its Legal System,” was written by the well-known comparatist John Wigmore. After publishing three Volumes, the Quarterly took an eleven-year hiatus due to the demands of the first World War. An Editorial penned in 1916 declared, “This issue of the Quarterly is the last that will appear until peace time conditions are so far restored that publication can be resumed with expectations of success.” 3 So. L.Q. 295 (1918).
The journal rose from the ashes and reemerged in 1929 as the Tulane Law Review. An Editorial therein noted that the Tulane Law Reviewwould
tak[e] up the work of the Southern Law Quarterly where it was discontinued during the World War. The Tulane Law Review will give special attention to a study of the civil law and to the experience of those organs charged with administering the problems of codification, which rapidly are coming to a dominating place in all legal systems of the world. In attempting this work, considerable attention will be given to comparative law and to a better understanding of the civil law sources, which have been neglected too long by English speaking countries, and to the movement toward codification of the law as represented by the restatement of the common law, and the growth of uniform laws throughout the United States. It is hoped that the material which appears in these pages not only will prove interesting to the fraternity of legal scholars, but also will be of considerable value in aiding practitioners in solving their pressing problems, to the end that the strong features of both systems of law may receive their proper place in the administration of justice.
4 Tul. L. Rev. 71-72 (1929).
As one of the charter members, Judge John Minor Wisdom also served on the first Board of Alumni Editors of the Review, from 1929 to 1941. In the beginning, the Review received financial aid from Tulane University to cover its operating costs. However, the Review actually operated at a deficit during its early years, which was compensated by local New Orleans practitioners. Since its emergence as the Tulane Law Review, the journal has consistently maintained that it “prints matter it deems worthy of publication. No responsibility is assumed, however, for the soundness of views expressed.” 4 Tul. L. Rev. 68 (1929).
Focus on Comparative Law
After establishing a foundation as the Tulane Law Review, the journal members and faculty decided to advance their mission of expounding on comparative law. In Volume 6, published in 1931, the Review introduced “a new section devoted to comparative law …. In this way the Reviewmakes even more secure its unique place as the organ of comparative law in America.” 6 Tul. L. Rev. 99 (1931). In addition, Mitchell Franklin announced that the Tulane Law Review had become the official periodical of the Comparative Law Section of the ABA. For several years, each Volume included a section entitled Bench and Bar: Published Under the Auspices of the American Bar Association Section on International and Comparative Law and the Louisiana State Bar Association. See, e.g., 5 Tul. L. Rev. 73 (1930).
By the late 1930s, the Review had established itself as a preeminent legal publication. A 1937 article in Time Magazine noted that the Tulane Law Review was “nationally famed.” By 1961, then-Dean Ray Forrester reported that the Review “enjoys one of the widest circulations internationally of any legal periodical.” 35 Tul. L. Rev. 397 (1961).
Gatekeeper of the Law School’s History
Over the early years, the Review not only published scholarly articles, but also chronicled the goings-on at Tulane University Law School. In each Volume, the current Dean would write an Editorial that addressed the makeup of the student body, the recent faculty additions and departures, and commentary on new curricula offered by the Law School. These Editorials ceased in the late 1960s.
Admiralty Law Emerges as Third Masthead Topic
For many years, the Review’s masthead topics included civil law, comparative law, and statutory codification and interpretation. However, in 1955, the Review announced that it planned to include “a more extensive coverage of admiralty law,” due to the fact that New Orleans possesses one of the country’s largest ports and that New Orleans is home to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, a leader in admiralty law. 30 Tul. L. Rev. iv (1955).
The first Biennial Admiralty Law Institute Symposium was held on November 1-3, 1966, and the proceedings were published in Volume 41 of the Review. The decision was made to hold the ALI conference every other year so that “the quality of its work should not be diluted by too frequent conferences.” 41 Tul. L. Rev. 878 (1967).
The members of the Review have always taken great pride in managing their own journal. This is a demanding enterprise for law students, who also attend classes, read cases, take exams, write briefs, and take part in a multitude of extracurricular activities. In 1982, the Review began printing six, rather than four, issues per Volume, which has made the job only that much more taxing. Today, the Review receives well over 1,500 full-length article submissions per year for around twenty-five available slots. Whatever the demands, history shows that the members of the Tulane Law Review can meet them. Members of the Review take pride in their ability to make their own editorial decisions, without undue outside influence. At the same time, the members understand that they must live with the consequences of these choices.
Tulane Law Review members, past and present, have always supported the law review institution as a whole. As the student editors of Volume 70 stated:
We believe the law review is the soul of the legal profession. Unconstrained by the rigors of day-to-day practice, authors who publish in law reviews are free to express their views, no matter how “conservative” or “liberal,” on the critical issues of the day. At its best, law review scholarship moves courts and legislatures to adopt more enlightened rules for resolving legal questions. Even when a law review is not constructive in this concrete way, the law review provides attorneys, judges, and academics with fresh insights into the social, economic, historical, and philosophical foundations of the law. But the law review does not just educate; it also provides those within the legal profession an opportunity to reflect on the law and participate in legal debates.
70 Tul. L. Rev. iii (1995).
A Look at the Future
Going forward, members of the Review will continue to embody the ideals of past members:
The walls of our offices are lined with photographs of the members who came before us. . . . As we proceed this year, we look at these pictures with great respect and admiration, keeping in mind the rich history and civilian tradition that shape and guide us. At the same time, we seek to move the institution of the law review in general, and the Tulane Law Review in particular, forward into the next century as a persuasive force within the legal community.
70 Tul. L. Rev. iii (1995).