History

Fifty-two years ago, under the guidance of the late Professor Wolfgang Friedmann, a group of Columbia law students belonging to the Columbia Society of International Law founded the Bulletin of the Columbia Society of International Law. The Bulletin’s first volume, containing two issues, was a forum for the informal discussion of international legal questions; the second volume, published in 1963 under the title International Law Bulletin, aspired more to the tradition of the scholarly law review. Today’s Columbia Journal of Transnational Law is heir to those early efforts.

By the end of its first decade, the Journal had established itself among the leading international legal periodicals. Professor Friedmann assisted the Journal in countless ways during those early years. The Journal’s Tenth Anniversary Issue was dedicated to Professor Friedmann “for his invaluable friendship, inspiration, and counsel,” and the Journal’s editors affectionately called him the “spiritual guide and financial guardian” of the Journal. Professor Friedmann’s death was a loss felt deeply by the international legal community and particularly keenly by the Journal.

During its second decade, the Journal expanded publication to three issues per year, experimented with theme issues, and published some of the early proceedings of the Friedmann Conference held annually at Columbia Law School. By the beginning of its third decade, the Journal’s theme issues—entire issues dedicated to the examination of current international law problems—had become regular annual publications. The topical issues . . . have examined international taxation, international trade embargoes and boycotts, China’s legal development, sovereign debt rescheduling, socialist law, and international satellite communications.

Alumni from past editorial boards should take pride in its achievements of the last five decades. With the support of our Board of Directors and the advice of our Board of Advisors, the Journal has earned a place among the world’s major international legal periodicals. The Journal has been cited by the U.S. Supreme Court and numerous federal appellate and trials courts. Journal articles and notes are frequently listed as suggested reading in casebooks and major law review articles on international law.

The Journal’s readership has grown dramatically over the years. Today, subscribers in more than sixty countries receive the Journal. Subscribers include the large university libraries in the United States and abroad, the major international law firms, many foreign governments, their agencies, their embassies, and many organizations affiliated with the United Nations.

As the Journal enters its next fifty years, the Board of Editors hopes that succeeding generations of editors will advance the Journal beyond its achievements of the last fifty years. Rigorous, timely and wide-ranging discussions of transnational legal issues will continue to be useful to legal scholars and practicing lawyers and policymakers. Our hope is that the Journal will share in and continue to enliven those discussions.
Adapted from the editors’ preface to Issue 25:1 (1987)