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2008 Stories

Ecology Law Quarterly Launches Online Companion Journal

Karis Gong, Max Baumhefner and Dan Pollak

Recognizing that timeliness is critical in the fast-changing world of environmental law, students at Boalt Hall’s Ecology Law Quarterly (ELQ) have launched an online companion journal. The publication, Ecology Law Currents, will act as a forum for short-form articles and analysis on topical environmental law and policy issues.

Currents debuted on April 11 and is available on ELQ’s redesigned website While there is a gradually emerging trend of law journals publishing companion journals online, Currents is one of the first of its kind in the environmental field. Dan Pollak ’08 and Karis Gong ’09 spearheaded the effort to develop this new publication while internet editor Max Baumhefner revamped the journal’s website to include its new Internet addition.

“Environmental law is an extremely diverse field, and it’s really hard to keep up with everything that’s going on,” Pollak says. “It takes a year or more for an article accepted by ELQ to make it into print, not counting the time it took for the author to write the piece. So we can’t really publish things that respond to recent events very easily. It seemed like there should be a niche for lawyers or academics who want to be among the first to interpret a recent development.”

Currents seeks submissions of 1,500 to 3,000 words on topical environmental issues. Typical submissions include notes on cases and rulings within the past 12 months, current events and new developments in the law, opinion commentary, responses to articles published in ELQ, and other short-form research and writing.

First Issue Examines Nuclear Power

The idea for an online companion journal came up last year during ELQ board elections. Pollak and Gong spoke with practitioners and professors, and researched journals that also publish online. After discussing organizational strategy with students running the Yale Pocket Part, a generalist Internet companion to the Yale Law Journal, Gong propsoed that ELQ launch an online component in 2008.

“Dan and I thought it’d be nice to have a themed issue to help pull things together,” says Gong. “We decided on nuclear power and whether it should be revived as a response to global warming. Right now there’s a rebirth of nuclear power developing and the issue is very close to the heart of California environmentalists.”

For the first issue of Currents, board members solicited articles through listservs, blogs, word of mouth, and overtures to professors who had previously published in ELQ. Board members spent January and February editing, and fine-tuned the Internet operation in March to make articles available in both HTML and PDF.

The debut issue includes contributions by legal scholars and practitioners in energy law. A forward was written by Bill Chamberlain ’71, ELQ’s first editor-in-chief and now chief counsel of the California Energy Commission.

Hopes for the Road Ahead

“Practitioners tend to have less use for the traditional long-form review article and less time to read them, let alone write them,” says Pollak, who will clerk for Judge Walter Carpeneti ’70 of the Alaska State Supreme Court this fall. “We hope Currents will be a space where both scholars and practitioners can virtually mingle and read and contribute these shorter, more topical pieces. Maybe that’ll help break down some of the barriers between practitioners and academics.”

Articles will be indexed and citable, and the ELQ board is working with Lexis and Westlaw to have Currents included in their databases. Catherine Mongeon ’10 will become Currents editor this fall, with Jessica Dicamillo ’10 and Christopher Williams ’10 serving as assistant editors.

“We actually had to learn some HTML coding to get the articles in place,” says Gong, “so for the new set of editors coming in we’ve been telling them that they’ll be experts in all aspects of publications. Soliciting articles, editing, fine-tuning, communicating with authors, internet fundamentals; they’ll be some of the most knowledgeable editors around.”

One of the nation’s most-cited journals in its field, ELQ has received numerous awards and recognitions and was rated the nation’s No. 1 environmental law journal in 2004. ELQ coordinates field trips, guest speakers, brown-bag lunch discussions, an annual environmental law careers conference, and a fundraising run called Race Judicata.

— By Andrew Cohen 4-17-08




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