Entertainment law journal nixed


The dark basement of Hastings is home to many journals, but a journal on entertainment won´t be one of them.

Students’ hopes to bring the Law School a journal focused on sports and entertainment law were dashed last week. In a September 24 e-mail, the Journals Committee informed the petitioners for the new journal that the resources required to house and staff another publication are not available. The administration also claimed to be bound by a 1981 moratorium on adding new journals, though several journals have been added since then.

The Committee for Sports and Entertainment Law launched the initiative for the Harvard Journal of Sports and Entertainment Law early last year with the support of Prof. Paul Weiler. CSEL submitted its proposal to the Journals Committee last Spring and hoped to get approval in time to publish the inaugural issue next Fall. It now appears they will have to wait much longer.

In its rejection letter, the Journals Committee wrote that it did not review the substance of the proposal, but rather based its decision on the already-limited resources available for existing publications. The Journals Committee cited a lack of space, not enough full-time publications staff and a “responsibility to see that the journals published at the School reflect well on Harvard.” The letter also explained that in the past, editors-in-chief of smaller, existing journals have worried about the effect the addition of another journal to the Harvard roster would have on student recruitment efforts.

Students involved in the petitioning process expressed concern about the current journal certification process. “It’s something the students want, and it seems unfair that they would reject it without even considering its substance,” said 2L Marina Bonanni, who chairs the CSEL Journals Committee and helped write the petition. “They claim they don’t have the staff or room, but we’re not asking for any of that.”

CSEL’s petition says the journal’s finances were to be modeled on the Journal of Law and Technology – designed to be self-supporting, with funding to come from law firms, practitioners and alumni/ae involved in sports and entertainment. The petition asks the Law School, however, to provide JSEL with space to operate as well as basic office furniture and technology. Since submitting the petition, students involved in the effort to bring the journal to campus have said all they really want from the school is Harvard’s name.

When asked whether a firm policy exists as to whether new journals could be added to those already publishing under the HLS name, head of the Journals Committee Prof. Harry Martin explained that a moratorium was placed on additional journals in 1981, but added that, “we have added three or four journals since then.” According to Martin, the Committee approved those journals because they were “unsupported,” meaning that they did not receive funding or operating space from the Law School. They were, however, allowed to use the Harvard name and recruit law students to staff them. The committee later decided to end the practice of “unsupported” journals, and funding was offered to all existing journals – although some declined to accept.

Martin says conditions will have to change before any new journals can be approved, at which time the Journals Committee would decide exactly how many journals HLS can handle. The subject still seems open for debate, however, if a journal more to the Journals Committee’s liking is proposed.

When elaborating on whether or not a firm policy against new journals exists, Martin said: “If somebody were to propose something like Duke’s Journal of Law and Contemporary Problems, that might be something the committee is interested in. Specialty journals don’t offer the same appeal.”

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