Gautham Rao: Law and History Review and The Docket in the time of COVID-19

Gautham Rao

Gautham Rao is Editor-in-Chief of Law and History Review and Associate Professor of History at American University in Washington, D.C.

First, and most importantly, all of us at Law and History Review hope that all of our readers, reviewers, colleagues, friends and associates are staying safe and healthy during this incredibly difficult time. It was just a few months ago that a good part of the legal history community convened in Boston for the annual meeting of the American Society for Legal History, where we got to hear each other’s voices, exchange handshakes and hugs, hear about each other’s work and catch up on the goings-on in our lives. For many of us, though, this seems like a distant memory amid shelter-in-place orders, video conferences, and the general anxiety that surrounds this pandemic. These are scary times. We hope all of you and your families are safe and well.

Given the incredible stories and sights coming out from all over the world, this might seem like an odd moment to reflect on the operations of an academic journal. However, we want to keep you informed of important changes that the COVID-19 crisis has caused. In late-March, 2020, Cambridge University Press informed us that it was indefinitely suspending the printing and distribution of Law and History Review. While that means that print subscribers will not be receiving their copy of LHR in the mail, they will still be able to access the journal online at Cambridge University Press’s Cambridge Core website. Cambridge’s Firstview system will also continue to make available to you all newly approved and published LHR articles before they get placed within issues of the journal. In short, all of our LHR content will be there online as we wait for resumption of print publication of the journal.

The COVID-19 crisis, however, is already causing completely understandable problems for the production of our journal and, I’m guessing, many others. As our contributors find themselves sheltering-in-place and taking care of their families, they obviously have less time to write articles and book reviews, review manuscripts, respond to email inquiries, and other activities that are essential to the functioning of LHR and The Docket. So while we will continue to invite new submissions, I want to advise present and possible contributors to expect delays in hearing about the status of manuscripts and the like. Since LHR has lost its student assistants, the editorial team is working without a net (and facing many of the pressures I’ve mentioned above). We ask you for just a bit more patience than you might typically indulge toward us during this challenging moment.

While we are clear-eyed about these difficulties, the community that lies at the heart of the ASLH, Law and History Review, The Docket, and Studies in Legal History has always distinguished itself for its generosity toward legal historians and many others. And so, our team–me, Angela Fernandez, Jed Kroncke, and Elizabeth Papp Kamali–wants to reassure our readers and anyone else who might come across this issue of The Docket, that we will do our very best to persevere with this spirit of scholarly and collegial generosity during the present crisis and beyond. Whether you are a student, faculty member, or independent scholar, please do not hesitate to contact us if we can be of service to you.

Sincerely, and with best wishes to all,

Gautham Rao