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University of Richmond Law Review




The survey results discussed in Part I below reveal substantial paper consumption excesses in the existing law journal system. Though only thirty-three primary law journals responded to the survey, making extrapolation across the general population of all law journals difficult, the aggregate data is illuminating nonetheless. Based upon a very conservative evaluation of the data set, the respondent journals reported printing nearly seventeen million pages of paper in the one-year term of the 2008-2009 editorial boards. Isolated practices proved particularly disconcerting. For instance, one journal reported printing a full, single-sided copy of each of the more than two thousand electronically submitted manuscripts for which authors sought publication offers. Another law journal printed or copied the pages of so many sources cited in published pieces that the stack of source pages measured upwards of three feet for each published article.

Part II analyzes the environmental impact of this reported paper consumption, taking into account the post-consumer recycled content of each journal and publisher's chosen paper.

Part III suggests that these paper consumption practices can be viewed as representative of a small, but not insignificant, accessible opportunity for environmental reform. Seizing these types of opportunities could trigger a fundamental paradigm shift toward a more comprehensive, systemic approach to the larger, ongoing substantive debates surrounding environmental sustainability. Such a shift may be useful not only within the law school model but far beyond, to fields such as developmental land use policies, fisheries management, and global energy markets.

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University of Richmond

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