SEATTLE -- Forty-eight years ago, Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas—writing in the Washington Law Review—called upon legal journals to adopt a policy requiring authors to disclose relevant interests. Today, the Washington Law Review has adopted a Disclosure of Interests Policy aimed at enhancing the legitimacy of legal scholarship—joining the likes of the Yale Law Journal and the Stanford Law Review as leaders in this area.
At its core, the WLR policy requires that authors “disclose all interests material to the main topic(s) of the contribution, and which could be reasonably seen to significantly influence the author’s views as set out in the work.” In their forthcoming essay in the WLR, professors Ronald Collins and Lisa Lerman stress that “the legitimacy of legal scholarship depends on the integrity of the scholar’s work.” To that end, the editors hope this policy will encourage greater transparency and thereby increase the integrity of legal scholarship.
“Through the adoption of this policy, the Washington Law Review is leading the way in terms of enhancing the legitimacy of legal scholarship and ensuring the highest ethical standards in legal publishing,” said UW School of Law Dean Kellye Y. Testy.
Importantly, the WLR policy implements the ethical standards for American law professors enumerated by the American Association of Law Schools (AALS). Those standards require law professors to disclose many interests, including economic interests, when publishing.
Additionally, the central idea behind the WLR policy buttresses similar ethical policies widespread in medical and other scientific journals.
The editors of the WLR respectfully call on other law reviews to consider adopting and implementing similar policies, which have, for too long, been conspicuously absent in scholarly legal journals.