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By Lori AthertonDec. 10, 2013
After 10 years at the helm of the American Journal of Comparative Law, during which he oversaw 40 issues and reviewed thousands of articles and book reviews from scholars around the world, Prof. Mathias Reimann, LLM '83, is completing his second term as editor-in-chief at the end of 2013. His last issue as EIC was scheduled to be published in October.
"To head a global team committed to this endeavor has been highly rewarding," Reimann, the Hessel E. Yntema Professor of Law, said of his association with the journal. "The best part has been working with a huge number of very talented, interesting, and devoted people from all over the world, from New York to Singapore, and from Canada to Italy."
The quarterly journal, which is published under the auspices of the American Society of Comparative Law (ASCL), had its beginnings at the Law School in 1952 when it was founded by Prof. Yntema, who served as EIC until his death in 1966. The journal remained at Michigan before moving to the University of California, Berkeley, in 1971. After more than three decades in California, it returned to Michigan Law. In 2003, Reimann began serving as co-editor-in-chief jointly with George Bermann from Columbia Law School and James Gordley, now at Tulane University Law School. Reimann has been serving as the journal's sole EIC for the past five years. At press time for the Law Quadrangle magazine, where this article originally appeared, it hadn't been determined where the journal will land next; the new EIC was expected to be chosen during the ASCL's annual meeting in October.
"I'm really sad to see it leave Michigan, because it was founded here by Hessel, and I'm holding the Yntema chair," Reimann said. "There's a tradition, and I was very glad to bring it back to Michigan. If I had my druthers, I would have it stay here, but that would presume there is a person here who could take it over," he said, adding that nobody on the faculty is the right fit for the position.
Unlike student-run journals, which most law schools typically publish, the American Journal of Comparative Law is peer-reviewed by respected academics who are specialists in comparative and foreign law. Reimann works with an editorial board of eight to 10 people, who help to select the articles that will be published (fewer than 10 percent of submissions actually appear in print). It's a double-blind review process—the reviewer doesn't know the author's name and vice-versa—which helps to ensure neutrality, Reimann said, and gives junior faculty an opportunity for their works to be published.
"The blind review helps a lot of young people who are still at the post-graduate stage who would never get published in a top student-run law review," Reimann said. "The outside peer reviewers also often make suggestions for improvement, something that student-run journals don't typically do; the suggestions are usually very helpful to junior and often even to senior faculty."
Reimann said he is grateful to the Law School for the institutional support and resources it has provided during his editorship and to his Michigan Law colleagues, whose expertise he often consulted. He is also quick to praise Annette Gregory, who has been overseeing the day-to-day operations of the journal as the production manager since December 2005. "If the journal runs like German trains used to run—always on time—it is largely due to Annette," Reimann said.
While he will miss the global connections the journal afforded him, Reimann won't miss the volume of manuscripts flooding his inbox, which could be overwhelming at times. He is looking forward to devoting more time to his own scholarly research and activities when his tenure ends.
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