University of Detroit Mercy Law Review
A Historical Perspective
The University of Detroit Mercy Law Review has enjoyed a rich, vibrant history over nearly the past century. Established merely four years after the inception of the University of Detroit’s Law Department, the Law Review’s initial focus was to provide helpful information to legal practitioners throughout Michigan. This objective has been both refined and broadened over the past century, but the underlying essence—to help practitioners solve contemporary legal problems in the community—remains unchanged. Today, the Law Review is committed to exposing important issues in Michigan as well as in the United States, and is devoted to finding practical solutions to these problems.
The University of Detroit Mercy School of Law (at the time known as University of Detroit Law Department) was established in 1912, and in 1916 the Monthly Law Review was instituted.[i] The early issues of the Monthly Law Review featured written reports of Michigan Circuit Court opinions.[ii] These reports were known as the Michigan Circuit Court Reports. At that time, Michigan Reports was virtually the only source of Michigan law that was widely available to the legal community. Consequently, the Monthly Law Review provided an essential service to practicing attorneys in Michigan.[iii] Over the next few years, the Monthly Law Review was modified slightly and publications were released on a bi-monthly basis. As a result, the journal was conveniently renamed the Bi-monthly Law Review.[iv]
In 1931, the organization once again changed its name to the University of Detroit Law Journal.[v] However, in 1933, the Law Journal was forced to suspend its publication due to the financial havoc created by the Great Depression.[vi] It was not until six years later, in 1939, that it resumed publication.[vii] The Law Journal built a strong reputation over the next eight years, and in 1947, the United States Supreme Court asked to be placed on the list of regular subscribers and requested copies of all back issues of the Law Journal.[viii] This subscription secured the Law Journal’s status as a leading legal periodical in the United States and added to its ever-growing list of subscribers—which at that time included virtually all leading law schools, the Michigan Supreme Court, a plethora of federal courts, and even some foreign law schools.[ix]
The Law Journal once again gained notoriety in 1966 when it was renamed the Journal of Urban Law.[x] This change was prompted by a general feeling among legal educators that contemporary law programs did not adequately prepare students for the increased role that the law played in contemporary society.[xi] In response, the University implemented a series of changes designed to help prepare students for their professional careers by rendering vital services to the urban community. These changes included an alteration in the curriculum to focus on urban law, the establishment of an urban law clinic to enable students to gain legal experience in assisting the poor in the community, and as previously mentioned, the renaming of the University’s Law Review to the Journal of Urban Law.[xii] The Journal of Urban Law was to be devoted to “exploring the myriad problems that cities must contend with today and in the future.”[xiii] The editor’s aim was to “investigate, expose, propose, and thereby improve” the conditions of urban cities across the country.[xiv] This novel concept for a law journal attracted a great deal of attention, both intra-state and nationally, and numerous prominent politicians wrote letters supporting this concept:
The University of Detroit School of Law is to be commended for seeking to develop a format for discussion of these legal issues. I wish you well with this project.
Robert F. Kennedy,
My congratulations on this very ambitious and needed venture.
The burgeoning growth of urban problems has brought increasing demands upon this area of the legal profession. I’m certain the Journal of Urban Law will contribute greatly upon the more orderly attack upon the vital urban issues that confront us all.
I am pleased at the prospect of a law journal devoted entirely to the problems of the city. There is no such publication today. It is rare to find articles relating to the legal aspects of the problems of metropolitan areas. A journal concerned with this subject will a pressing need.
I congratulate you and your associates on your initiative. I am sure the Journal of Urban Law will be a respected and widely read publication
Gerald R. Ford
The Law Journal was renamed in 1985 to University of Detroit Law Review, and finally again in 1991 to the University of Detroit Mercy Law Review when the University of Detroit merged with the Mercy College of Detroit. Nonetheless, the members remain committed to addressing the pressing issues that the City of Detroit is faced with, and proposing practical solutions to these issues. Through its publications, the University of Detroit Mercy Law Review strives to meaningfully contribute to the revitalization of the City of Detroit and advance legal discourse throughout the country. The Law Review therefore presents its subscribers with a wide array of topics reaching beyond the traditional field of law into matters of great importance for the community as a whole.
[iii] See Why Every Lawyer Should Receive the Monthly Law Review, supra note 1, at viii (Circuit Court opinions, though invaluable to attorneys in 1916, were practically unavailable. “These [Circuit Court] opinions are not preserved, often are lost, and are inaccessible except through the Monthly Law Review.”).