In the spring of 1958, William T. Muse, Dean of the T.C. Williams School of Law opened the first issue of the first volume of the University of Richmond Law Notes, with the following forward:
The first issue of the University of Richmond Law Notes inaugurates a service by the Faculty of the Law School which we hope will be of some value to lawyers of Virginia. If the bar thinks the undertaking worth while it will become a permanent publication,—perhaps enlarged in scope and volume. The Law Notes will be devoted to Virginia law. It will contain discussions of practical problems which are thought to be of current interest to the profession. Present in this issue—purposefully a modest beginning—are five brief articles, each prepared by a member of the Faculty. The authors have sought to select topics of concern to the practicing lawyers and have sought to present the material in an easy-to-read style with minimum of reference. There are no footnotes. Through the courtesy of the University of Richmond Law School Association copies of this issue are being distributed to all alumni of the Law School. We earnestly invite your comments and suggestions concerning this new project.
And with this announcement, the publication of a legal journal for The T.C. Williams School of Law was underway. The second issue of pocket-sized Law Notes was released in the Spring of 1959. According to Dean Muse, the reception to the first issue was “most gratifying.” William T. Muse, Forward, 1 U. Rich. L. Notes 54 (1959). Copies of the publication, originally intended for alumni only, were requested by libraries and non-alumni. Id. The response to the first three issues lead Dean Muse to warn the alumni that “[t]here have been many requests for copies from lawyers and libraries throughout the country. Perhaps it soon will be necessary to establish a paid subscription list.” William T. Muse, Forward, 1 U. Rich. L. Notes 214 (1961).
The faculty of the law school played a strong role in the publication of the early editions. Even in 1964, when Dean Muse acknowledged that articles from alumni were welcomed, he noted that primary responsibility for the publication rested with the faculty. William T. Muse, Forward, 2 U. Rich. L. Notes ii (1964). The first alumni piece, however, was published in the next issue. See Edmonds, The Securities Acts and (Hopefully) How to Avoid Them, 2 U. Rich. L. Notes 121 (1965). John W. Edmonds, III was a 1956 graduate of the law school and a partner at Tucker, Mays, Moore and Reed of Richmond, Virginia. Law Notes continued annual publication until 1967.
Student participation in the publication of Law Notes began in 1962 when the fifth issue of volume one included the first contribution written by a student. William T. Muse, Forward, 1 U. Rich. L. Notes 286 (1962). For the first student written note see Separation as a Ground for Divorce in Virginia, 1 U. Rich. L. Notes 330 (1962). The author of this article was third year student Charles P. Beemus. While some degree of student participation in the publication had always been planned, William T. Muse, Forward, 2 U. Rich. L. Notes ii (1963), an active leadership role did not begin until volume two in the 1963 edition. Along with the creation of a section of case notes written by members of the McNeill Law Society, the issue announced the selection of the first student editor and student business manager. Id.
Student participation in the 1963 issue was not without controversy. A group of students, led by William G. Thomas and Michael Soffin, approached Dean Muse about making the Law Notes publication a student run publication. See DAVID J. MAYS, THE PURSUIT OF EXCELLENCE 74 (1970). Dean Muse, however, was reluctant to relinquish control of the publication and denied the students’ request. Unwavering, the students took their cause to the Faculty Senate. While unsuccessful in their attempts to take over Law Notes, the students were successful in achieving a greater level of participation the first student editorial board.
Throughout the 1960’s students continued to pursue complete control of the publication. In 1968, the effort to make Law Notes a student publication succeeded when the University of Richmond Law Review, a completely student run organization, began publishing the volumes. To secure student control, the students, especially Bruce Bach and Pat McSweeney, solicited the support of T.C. Williams alumnus Ken Wheeler. The students felt that having an alumnus plead their case with Dean Muse was a safer proposition for them. After a contemptuous three hour meeting, Dean Muse relented. It is rumored that student demonstrations were planned if the visit with the Dean failed. The demonstrations, however, were not needed. The University of Richmond Law Review was created. The first student run publication was volume three in May of 1968.
The change in the structure of the Law Review also resulted in a change in the emphasis of the articles published; a much more national perspective was sought. The first issue of the Law Review contained an article on negligence law by Professor Robert E. Keeton, and another article on self-regulation and the Federal Trade Commission by Federal Trade Commission Attorney, William D. Dixon. Similarly, volume six published in the fall of 1971 is notable because it contains articles from three United States Senators. See Spong, Can Balance Be Restored in the Constitutional War Powers of the President and Congress, 6 U. Rich. L. Rev. 1 (1971); Curtis, The Space Age: Legal and Policy Problems, 6 U. Rich. L. Rev. 49 (1971). Gurney, Toward Judicial Reform, 6 U. Rich. L. Rev. 83 (1971).
William B. Spong, Jr. is a former United States Senator from Virginia. Carl T. Curtis, United States Senator from Nebraska, at the time of the article, was the ranking minority member of the Senate Committee on Aeronautical and Space Sciences. Edward J. Gurney, was a former United States Senator from Florida.
The impact of increased student participation was also immediately noticeable in the student articles section. The first issue of volume three contained a ninety-seven page student note on the hearsay rule. See Note, Erosion of the Hearsay Rule, 3 U. Rich. L. Rev. 89 (1968). The student’s note received the attention of the national bar through a recommendation by the American Bar Association Journal. Mays, supra note 9, at 74. The student piece was very well received. See Mays, supra note 9, at 74.
The trend toward a more national focus continued in subsequent volumes; however, in the summer of 1985, the Law Review began publication of The Annual Survey of Virginia Law, a publication for the Virginia attorney. This annual review of the changes in Virginia law, both legislatively and judicially, began with five articles written by the faculty at the law school. The first edition contained articles on these topics: Administrative Law, Civil Procedure and Practice, Criminal Procedure, Commercial Law, Domestic Relations, Legal Issues Involving Children, Property, and Wills, Trusts, and Estates. This annual issue has been well received and, from the size of this current issue, has expanded each year.
With the support of Dean Thomas A. Edmonds, the students involved in the Law Review began an effort to become involved in Law Review activities nationally. In the spring of 1986, while attending their first national convention, the students at Richmond were successful at winning the bid to host the 34th National Conference of Law Reviews. The 1988 conference, by all accounts, was a huge success. The support of the Virginia legal community was an enormous boost to the conference and was a significant factor in its success. As result of the impressive job done by the University of Richmond students, the University of Richmond continues to maintain a position on the Executive Committee of the Conference.
The University of Richmond Law Review celebrated the completion of the publication of the twenty-fifth volume of the Law Review at the Jefferson Hotel in 1991. Since that time the focus of the Law Review has been more nationally based than Virginia centered.
Starting in 1993, the Allen Chair articles were published as a fifth issue. As T.C. Williams was already paying honoraria to these professors for their participation, Dean Harbaugh suggested that the school require a publishable paper in addition to the symposium lectures. The Law School disseminated this issue to non-subscribers nationally to gain exposure for the Law School and the Law Review.
With the rise of the digital age, the first volume of the University of Richmond Law Review Online Edition was published in 2015. Each year, a new volume of the Online Edition is published.
Currently, in addition to the Online Edition, the Law Review publishes four issues a year. The Annual Survey Issue in November, the Symposium Issue in March, and two general issues in January and May.