Influential Journal of Gender, Social Policy & the Law Celebrates 20 Years of Publication

The Birth of a Journal

In 1992 the first volume of the American University Journal of Gender & the Law was released.

The publication’s founding committee explained the motivation for “The Birth of the Journal,” as part of the Journal's first volume. In the spirit of the law school’s founding mothers’ mission to broaden education opportunities and achieve social and political equality for women, the Journal would seek to work toward gender equality by promoting cooperation and communication between the sexes.

“…We decided to found a journal to explore gender- related issues and how they relate to the law. The American University Journal of Gender & the Law focuses specifically on the impact the law has on women's lives, and more generally on how gender bias in the law and in legal studies affects all of us. Our intent is to fill a void in feminist legal scholarship by providing an opportunity for academic discussion that is otherwise overlooked by traditional journals.”

The Journal changed its name to American University Journal of Gender, Social Policy & the Law (JGSPL) in 1998 to reflect the more expansive range of topics published.

“Our articles empower people.”

Twenty years since its launch JGSPL is still going strong, ranked by the Washington & Lee University School of Law as the most cited legal periodical in the United States and selected non-U.S. regions in the topical area of gender, social policy, and the law.

Electronic copies of the Journal’s articles have been accessed over 30,000 times through their digital repository.

“We still fill a void in legal scholarship,” explained Rafael Roberti, 3L and current editor-in-chief of the Journal. “We’re known for publishing non-traditional legal pieces, which some journals would not accept. We publish articles that educate and empower people--even if they’re not a lawyer. We provide a forum for them.”

(Photo L to R: Journal Symposium Editor Madelaine Ford and Editor-in-Chief Rafael Roberti)

Recent volumes of JGSPL have included articles on topics ranging from learning disabilities, to polygamy among Bedoins in Israel, to pregnancy in prison. In addition to articles from their annual symposia, the Journal often gains permission to publish transcripts and reports from timely and important events around the city.

A special 20th anniversary edition of the American University Journal of Gender, Social Policy & the Law contains the transcript of a panel discussion celebrating the anniversary of landmark Supreme Court case Reed v. Reed that took place at the National Press Club in November. The edition includes remarks by Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a panelist at the event.

“We are so proud to publish some of the most intimate thoughts that Justice Ginsburg has expressed publicly as the principal author of the Supreme Court brief for Sally Reed in Reed v. Reed,” explained Madelaine Ford, 3L and symposium editor for the Journal.

"The issues covered by our journal are issues that affect everyone."

Since their founding, the Journal has been dedicated to being more than a traditional law review. Students involved with the Journal serve as mentors for underclassmen, and the group recently worked with Communities in Schools at the Ferebee Hope Elementary School, specifically in the literacy program (pictured right).

“We try to foster more of a collegial atmosphere, and see ourselves as a resource for underclassmen,” said Ford.

The Journal also regularly sponsors symposia.

To commemorate the 20th anniversary of the publication, the Journal will collaborate with the law school’s Women and the Law Program to hold a half-day symposium and reception April 17. At the event, “Lenahan (Gonzales) v. United States of America: Domesticating International Law,” experts will explore the multiple dimensions of the case that was the first individual complaint by a victim of domestic violence to be brought against the United States for a failure to enforce a mandatory protective order. A reception honoring the anniversary of the publication will follow the program, with opening remarks by Claudio Grossman, dean of American University Washington College of Law.

“We look forward to this symposium, as it will be a time to thank our 700 Journal alumni, the American University Washington College of Law community, and our faculty sponsors for their support of the Journal these past two decades,” said Ford.

Symposium agenda.

“The issues covered by our journal—those that intersect gender, society, and the law—are issues that affect everyone,” said Roberti. “We hope that the Journal will continue to be a publication that allows a wide variety of people to participate and to potentially have an impact on policy.”