After the passage of the Administrative Procedure Act in 1946, the American Bar Association Section of Administrative Law and Regulatory Practice (ABA Section) decided to produce a publication reflecting the newly developing area of administrative law. In 1948 the ABA launched a small quarterly bulletin entitled Administrative Law Review (ALR). As the area of administrative law grew, so did ALR. In the beginning, the ABA Section produced ALR at Indiana University and then moved the publication to the Osgoode Hall Law School at York University in Toronto, Canada.
The ABA Section then started a new tradition of producing ALR in tandem with a law school and its students. This tradition began at the University of Denver where the law school published ALR for 14 years. After a successful run at the University of Denver, the ABA Section moved production to William and Mary University.
The faculty was hesitant to grant permission for an additional journal at the school, but it soon came to realize this concern had little merit. The ALJ quickly rose to compete with the ABA Section’s ALR as the top journal for administrative law. By 1989, the ABA Section had realized the potential of merging ALR with the ALJ. The then administrative law section chair and president of William and Mary approached WCL with a proposal to merge the publications. The WCL faculty rejected the ABA Section’s offer, refusing to give up a student-run journal for the faculty-run journal sought by the ABA Section. By 1995, ALR began to decline in recognition and had difficulty obtaining articles for publications. At the same time, the ALJ had become a well respected source of administrative law commentary and continued to succeed.In 1987, the law students at the American University Washington College of Law (WCL) received conditional permission from the faculty to start the Administrative Law Journal (ALJ), which they produced out of the basement of the old music building—Kreeger Building—on the undergraduate campus.
Due to the increasing success of the ALJ and the breadth and depth of administrative law coverage, the ABA Administrative Law Section Chair, Phil Harter, once again contacted the faculty at WCL to attempt to merge the two journals. Again, the ABA Section requested that ALR be faculty-run if it should be housed at WCL, and again, the faculty at WCL balked. Professor Gary Edles headed the negotiations for the school and developed a scheme that would allow ALR to be a predominantly student-run publication with a faculty board providing oversight. Per the agreement, the faculty board would consist primarily of those professors who were ABA Administrative Law Section members. Professor Tom Sargentich agreed to chair the board. The primary motivation for the faculty’s desire for astudent run publication was to ensure that ALR contained a certain percentage of student written pieces (approximately thirty percent). After substantial negotiations, Professor Edles and the faculty accepted the ABA Section’s offer to house ALR at WCL.
The ALJ had a distribution of approximately 500 books per issue pre-merger; distribution has since increased to approximately 9,000 books per issue. Practitioners and law professors consistently recognize ALR as one of the top journals in the country. Though the merger proved beneficial for both parties, in the beginning, the new student editorial board had to work hard to fill ALR with substantive articles. The students began to hold symposia to generate debate and discussion in administrative law, as well as planning issues a year in advance. In addition, ALR began to have specials issues each year dedicated solely to agencies. These specialty issues were replaced in 2004 with a section in each book dedicated to printing shorter articles and case notes on topical issues in the field of administrative law. A student editorial board continues to publish ALR successfully, and in 2002 and then again in 2007, the ABA Section chose to renew its agreement with WCL for another five years.