What’s in a law review? Find out with Annuals and Surveys appearing in Legal Periodicals

In need of a topic for a paper, want to update your practice, or research a legislative or judicial issue over the course of a number of years?  Then perhaps Annuals and Surveys appearing in Legal Periodicals : an Annotated Listing compiled by Catherine L. Kerr and Joy Humphrey may be just what you need to get started.

As the introduction to this useful work states, “Researchers may overlook [annual surveys] and the wealth of information they offer because they are not always easy to find.”  Irregularities in publication schedules by the law reviews themselves and the indexing methods used by the major third-party vendors, such as Hein Online, Lexis, and Westlaw, are a couple of the reasons the authors cite for the difficulty in locating these surveys.  With the aid of this compilation, located in the Reference Collection at KF8 D45, you can begin your research here.

“This title is divided into three parts:  state law surveys, U.S. Supreme Court and federal circuit surveys, and subject-specific surveys.”  The following is a sampling of the reviews of annual surveys you can find in this compilation:


State Law Surveys -

Both the McGeorge Law Review (California) and Georgia State University Law Review publish annual legislative reviews covering the activity in their respective States.  The McGeorge Law Review’s survey, published since 1971, is commonly known as the “green sheets.”  The Georgia State University Law Review’s survey, published since 1985, are known as the “Peach Sheets.”

Many other law reviews publish an annual survey of their state’s law.  Wayne Law Review, for example, has covered Michigan law since 1958.  One of the oldest running surveys is the Syracuse Law Review which publishes the “Annual Survey of New York Law” and has done so since 1963, and it’s predecessor published by the New York University Law Review began in 1947.  Covering both legislation and reported decisions, the review of this annual survey notes: “Coverage is consistently in-depth and scholarly.  Many sections are written by the same author year after year providing consistency and continuity.”

Some annual surveys of state law are joint efforts between law students and members of the state bar association.  The “Annual Survey of New Hampshire Law” appearing in the New Hampshire Bar Journal is one such example.  “Student-authored articles are reviewed and critiqued by members of the Bar’s Publication Committee.  The authors intend that the articles will be useful to the bench and bar.”  Another example of collaboration is the Willamette Law Review’s "Biennial Review of Oregon Issues and Legislation" where the lead articles are written by government officials, law professors, and practitioners; while the Review is responsible for the comment, casenote and development sections.

While other annual surveys, such as Duquesne Law Review’s “Pennsylvania Issue,” focus on caselaw instead of legislation.  Published since 1991, “it provides insight on the reasons why a decision is important, who the decision will affect, and why practitioners should be aware of it”  In Wisconsin, the State Bar’s Wisconsin Lawyer magazine features an annual “Significant Decisions” survey which has appeared since 1989, and began in 1980 under the publication’s previous title the Wisconsin Bar Bulletin.


United States Supreme Court and Federal Circuit Surveys -

Harvard Law Review’s annual “Supreme Court: 20– Term” reviews the Court’s prior term.  Published since 1949, it has a very interesting and useful “Statistics” section which includes “tables covering actions of individual judges; voting alignments; unanimity; 5-4 decisions; final disposition of cases and method of disposition; subject matter disposition with full opinions.”  The abstract goes on to say further “Editorial interpretation and comprehensive coverage make this Survey noteworthy.”  For an example, see the “Supreme Court, 2007 Term” issue, 122 Harv. L. Rev. 1-529 (2008) from Hein Online.  The “Statistics” section begins on page 516.

Each of the Federal circuits have either currently or had in the past an annual survey in a law review.  For example, the “Seventh Circuit Review” appeared in the Chicago-Kent Law Review from 1973-1991.  The “Ninth Circuit Survey” is published by the Golden Gate University Law Review beginning in 1976 and continues to this day.


Subject-specific Surveys -

A look at the Table of Contents will summarize the variety of subjects covered in this work.  A short list of some of those subjects alongside the name of the law review include:

Administrative Law – Duke Law Journal

Criminal Procedure – Georgetown Law Journal

Environmental Law – Environmental Law

European Economic Community – Fordham International Law Journal

Health Law – Whittier Law Review

Law Books – Michigan Law Review

Privacy – John Marshall Journal of Computer and Information Law

State Constitutional Law – Rutgers Law Journal

One of the criteria used in the selection of this short list is that each of these annual surveys are currently in publication.

In conclusion, a couple of points should be made about the content and coverage of Annuals and Surveys appearing in Legal Periodicals: an Annotated Listing.  The first is that this title does not cover symposiums.  The second is not all the annuals and surveys listed are currently in publication.  For example, all three of the New Jersey surveys listed ceased coverage in late 1990s or early 2000s.  However, from the researcher’s point of view, their inclusion in this work is still of historical importance.  I hope you will find this title helpful for your own future research needs.

Submitted by Eric Taylor on March 11, 2010

This article appears in the categories: Law Library

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