UMKC ends Urban Lawyer partnership.
A perfect storm of converging circumstances has led the University of Missouri-Kansas City to end its partnership with a prestigious law journal. Last summers edition of The Urban Lawyer, which would have marked its 50th year in 2019, is its last with UMKC, said Julie Cheslik, an associate professor and faculty editor of the journal. She pointed to declining support from the American Bar Association, worsening financial conditions in academic publishing and the difficulty in finding a replacement editor when she decided to step down after nearly 15 years. Cheslik said in recent years, the ABAs Section on State and Local Government Law, the section affiliated with the journal, reduced its in-house administrative and technical support for the journal. It ultimately withdrew $15,000 in funds the school used for student editor stipends, prompting reconsideration of the partnership. A lot of duties performed in-house by the ABA and the related costs of those duties needed to be absorbed somewhere either by the section or by the law school, she said. The ABA didnt have any money and wanted the law school to absorb more and more of the costs. Cheslik noted that her time in the unpaid, time-intensive position was also winding down. There was not a great willingness for somebody to take it over under the terms that we had historically been serving as editor, she said. With no obvious successor, the law school re-evaluated its relationship with the journal, she said. Thats really the perfect storm of a situation, she said. At its peak, Cheslik said the journal had a print circulation of about ,000 subscribers. In its last run, there were 3,305 print subscribers. She noted the ABA is still seeking a new home for the journal. Its certainly been an honor to publish it, and for me personally its been a great opportunity to work with some of the leading scholars in the country on the issues that are relevant to state and local government law, she said. Weve been proud to be associated with it. It was just getting involved The Urban Lawyers first faculty editor, Robert Freilich, now an attorney with Freilich Popowitz in Los Angeles, said he was shocked to hear the news. Its a real shame, is all I can say, he said. I dont know why the law school decided to drop it. It was its most prestigious journal. While UMKC says students will still have opportunities to edit the UMKC Law Review, Freilich said its not the same. He said typically, because they publish on a variety of general legal issues, lawyers dont subscribe to law reviews. Thats why The Urban Lawyer had such a huge following, he said. Freilich said the journal took on an active role in Missouris state legislature and government. He recalled a case the law school, including the journals staff, had taken on in the early 1970s to halt construction on Kansas Citys sports stadiums after tickets were sold primarily to Kansas residents. A resulting compromise required a percentage of tickets go to Jackson County residents. That was The Urban Lawyer, it was just getting involved, he said. All the students were with me, they wrote papers, researched the law. It was a fascinating issue. Its a big loss Alumni for the journal said they were similarly surprised and disappointed by the news. Kansas City attorney Steve Chinn, who recently retired from Stinson Leonard Street in Kansas City, said he has continued to read the journal after serving as cases and notes editor in 1974. Its a big loss to the university, he said. Over his 45-year career, he has practiced exclusively in the area of city law. He continues to serve as city attorney for Fairway, Kansas. He said the journal is at the forefront of urban law. Theres only a couple other journals that even come close to having a circulation and quality articles that the Urban Lawyer has, he said. Bates County Associate Circuit Judge Debra A. Hopkins worked on the journal as publications editor in 1991. She said the journal published timely articles and provided excellent training on citations and editing. Even if all youre writing is a brief at the court or a brief on appeal, you score points if you at least know how to cite things and get it right, she said. It may not sway the judges, but at least theyre not going to discount you because you dont seem to know what youre doing. Hopkins worked alongside Sharon Kennedy, of counsel for Polsinelli in Kansas City, who was editor-in-chief. It was my first leadership opportunity, so it was really good for me professionally to have that opportunity and I hate to see other students miss out on that, Kennedy said. Another alumna, Sarah Hess, a criminal defense attorney with Sandage Law in Kansas City, was a program editor for the journal before she graduated in 2013. She helped with planning and logistics. She said it had been a great experience for her. While she went into a different area of law, Hess still found her time on the journal beneficial. I think any time you get more writing and editing experience and get to work with a team to achieve a goal, I think thats beneficial to the practice of law, she said.
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