July 10, 2004
The Death of JSEBL
Posted by Gordon Smith

Earlier today I noticed this announcement on the website of my first academic employer, Lewis & Clark Law School: "The Journal of Small and Emerging Business Law, established in 1996, now has a broader mission. Effective as of Spring 2004, the journal is now known as the Lewis & Clark Law Review. It publishes scholarship from all areas of law." I am sad.

The idea for JSEBL (which we pronounced "Jezebel") was hatched over lunch by me and Jack Bogdanski, who recently announced that he is taking a break from blogging (which in turn prompted The Oregonian to do a tribute story ... wow!). At the time, Lewis & Clark needed to broaden its public persona. Widely viewed as an "environmental law school," Lewis & Clark also had a large collection of business law professors, and we had started to build a program.

It began before I ever taught a class there. When I was interviewed, I was told that the school had big plans for business law. The business law professors had already begun meeting to discuss curriculum, and many of the students were agitating for something that would compete with environmental law, offering scholarly, clinical, and moot court opportunities.

Just before the commencement of my first semester, the faculty held a retreat at Sunriver Resort. Great golf and great fun, but also a lot of great ideas. It was a tremendous way for a new professor to get introduced to the faculty.

Among the ideas floating around was an annual, non-environmental law conference. It didn't have much shape other than that, but Jack agreed to organize the inaugural event on tax law. He brought in an excellent group of professors on a Friday, then spent Saturday with them in the Columbia River Gorge and on Mt. Hood. As it turned out, this Saturday excursion was the real stroke of genius because it continued to entice one great participant after another to make the trek to Portland in October. (I wonder if they still do that?) Not only that, but it was a fantastic way to get to know people. Some of the fondest memories of my time in Portland are of those excursions.

We also discussed at the retreat the possibility of starting another law journal. At the time, Environmental Law was the only student-edited journal at the school, though Animal Law would follow shortly thereafter. We did not have a general law review, and a number of us felt that the world did not need another general law review. Sadly, that is exactly was JSEBL has now become.

Obviously, I was not a party to these most recent discussions, but I suspect that the driving force behind the change was a paucity of product. The world may not need another general law review, but most law professors are not keen to publish in specialty journals, either. We managed to provide one issue a year by tying the journal to the annual conference, which came to be called the "Business Law Forum." I was in charge of the Business Law Forum that appeared in volume 2. Take a look, and I think you will agree that it was a great conference.

We had grand hopes for JSEBL, and to some extent those hopes were realized. I still believe that there is a place for a scholarly journal on law and entrepreneurship (a name we considered, but rejected for various reasons). Maybe this will be the one that succeeds.

One final side note. When I was teaching at Lewis & Clark, we were constantly fighting our name. The official name of the school at that time was Northwestern School of Law of Lewis & Clark College. Now, I search in vain for a reference to the old name on the website. "Lewis & Clark Law School" -- the name most of us used informally -- has now become official. It's a good change.

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