The Web of Law

Law Professor Thomas Smith (University of San Diego School of Law) has finished a law review citation study covering 385,000 law review articles, notes, comments, etc that appear in 726 law reviews and journals. The results are probably not too surprising to many of you. 43% of the articles have never never been cited. 0.898% of articles get more than 100 citations. He has also performed a similar study on 4 million US federal and state cases. Smith finds that “the distributions of cites to law review articles and to cases look the same.”

What is really interesting is how he likens the Web of Law formed by statutes, cases, and other legal authorities linked together by citations to the World Wide Web and his suggestion that legal research technology can be improved with network science (see his working paper, “The Web of Law”, available on SSRN). Different from other law review articles, this one is full of graphics, some neat and some daunting (to me).

The law review citation study results will be incorporated in this working paper later. For a more coherent abstract of Smith’s law review citation study, read a blog entry written by Tom Smith himself.

Thanks to Law Librarian Blog for alerting me to this law review study.

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