How do you keep a journal fresh without losing that which makes it successful? 2017 will mark the twenty-fifth anniversary of Social & Legal Studies and I feel extremely lucky that S&LS has been a big part of my professional and personal life for much of that time. It is really gratifying to hear so many positive comments about the journal from our readers around the world. In general, when it comes to innovation, my default position is ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’. And Social & Legal Studies is certainly not broken. In terms of the metrics about which we are all critical, it is doing extremely well. Copy flow is buoyant. Most importantly, I believe that we are publishing cutting edge work which remains true to the original remit of the Journal. Last but certainly not least, I like to believe that we are good to work with for authors. While we don’t always get things right, I believe that we always try to be constructive, recognising that sending a manuscript to a journal inevitably puts the author in a position of vulnerability. So at 25, things are good!
Nevertheless, the Editorial Board decided some time back to launch a new, occasional feature: Review of the Field. Our ambition is to commission leading scholars to reflect upon their fields of study and to offer a critical appraisal of the key literature and concepts. The aim is to provide, not only a valuable map of the scholarly terrain but, equally, we hope that the format will give authors the opportunity to set a direction of travel for their discipline. Thus, we anticipate that reviews will ask new research questions, identify gaps in the scholarship, and explore connections and discontinuities between diverse bodies of knowledge. This is not intended to be a space for comprehensive literature reviews. Rather, the author picks representative and important works to illustrate broad themes and currents. It might even be a chance to set the agenda in an area. Suggestions for future reviews are welcome and should be addressed to members of the Editorial Board.
We are delighted that Professor Robert Leckey, the new Dean of the Faculty of Law at McGill University, Canada, took up our invitation to write the inaugural Review of the Field of Comparative Law. Robert will be familiar to many of our readers as having published two terrific articles with us – ‘Law Reform, Lesbian Parenting, and the Reflective Claim’ (September 2011; vol. 20, 3: pp. 331-348) and, with Yann Favier, ‘Cohabitation’s boundaries and the confines of tradition’ (currently available Online First and in hard copy in issue 5 of the 2016 volume). Robert’s ‘Review of the Field of Comparative Law’ will kick off the 2017 volume. We hope that our readers agree with us that his Review provides an important socio-legal addition to what has been a remarkably disparate field. It also makes for an invaluable template for contributors of future reviews.
Please do give us your thoughts and ideas on Review of a Field. As always, we are dependent upon the many friends of the Journal who continue to help it to thrive.
We have other very special contributions to mark our twenty-fifth too, but more on that to follow!