With the Close of This Chapter, a Final Story

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The Regulatory Review’s editor-in-chief reflects on the publication’s past year of coverage, against the backdrop of a fast-changing regulatory world.

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Although a lawyer-in-training, I have always considered myself to be a storyteller at heart. I love the pursuit of discovering the world’s untold stories, of gathering and putting together the pieces of these stories, and, ultimately, of immortalizing these stories in writing.

It was this passion for storytelling that for years had driven me to journalism—a field in which I had served as a passive spectator, writing about the action whirring around me. Later, this same passion for storytelling drove me to law—content no longer to be a spectator, but rather driven to be a participant in a system aimed at achieving justice. And it was this passion for storytelling that drove me still further to join the staff of this publication during my first year of law school, and then, for the last year, to serve as its editor-in-chief.

In this publication, I saw a remarkable opportunity to pull back the curtain shrouding the world of regulation, and to share with the public its underreported stories. I saw an opportunity to tell the stories about questionable advertisements and contracts, about allegedly discriminatory housing and hiring practices, about the safety infrastructure aimed at protecting us, and about the pesticides that harmed us. With stories like these, I sought to provide a clear and untainted window into the people, places, and events affected by the oft-obscured world of regulation, to inform the public with each story that I told. And in so doing, I found that there was no shortage of stories to tell.

All of this suddenly seemed to change on November 8, 2016. On this date—Election Day—voters delivered a presidential victory to a candidate with a decidedly deregulatory agenda. And in the election’s immediate aftermath, various colleagues of mine began to inquire into the fate of our publication. What would happen to this publication, they asked, with a raison d’être—the administrative state—that the new Administration would be seeking to deconstruct? Put another way, if the administrative state was in fact set to be dismantled, would not stories about regulation likewise be sapped, draining our publication of its lifeblood—and, eventually, of its reason for being altogether?

I soon realized that this was a mistaken way of thinking. Stories about regulation would never disappear—rather, there would simply be a new collection of stories for us to tell. There would be stories about the new Administration’s planned rollback of the administrative state, and of its wide-ranging implications for agencies, the private sector, citizens, and the world at large. And in covering these stories, it would be our responsibility to do what we had always done: to rise above the partisan mudslinging and fake news, and to provide the public with a reliable, high-quality source of content representing the full range of disciplinary and policy perspectives.

Reflecting on this past year, I would like to think that we did not simply keep our heads afloat in these rough-and-tumble waters. More than that, we navigated these waters with the care, skill, and grace that enabled this publication to emerge a stronger-than-ever leader in the regulatory space.

Each week, we continued to publish artfully written, illuminating essays, addressing some of the most vital regulatory issues playing out on the national stage. We published stories about Congress’s deployment of the Congressional Review Act, about President Trump’s executive order calling for the implementation of a one-in, two-out policy, and about various other regulatory reforms in the works. Alongside these essays addressing large-scale changes to the regulatory process, we published dozens of essays addressing specific fields of regulation, including the environment, healthcare, education, criminal justice, banking, privacy, national security, and international affairs, among a host of other topics.

Throughout this process, we did not fall prey to partisan riptides. Instead, we rose above the noise, staying true to our mission of providing a neutral platform receptive to all viewpoints. Virtually every week this past year, we worked with contributors across the ideological spectrum, and in so doing, we worked to make each and every one of these contributors feel equally at home on our site. We published essays by Republican Senators Orrin Hatch and Mike Lee, alongside essays by Democratic Senators Elizabeth Warren and Sheldon Whitehouse. We published essays by former advisors to President Bush and President Obama, by Heritage Foundation and Center for Progressive Reform scholars, and by those both outwardly critical of and receptive to the Republican-controlled government’s agenda.

In publishing these essays, not once did we succumb to the siren call of sensationalism, nor did we cave to commercial pressures to churn out content at breakneck speed. Instead, we upheld our rigorous editorial standards. We edited each and every essay that we published with exacting precision, guided by our dual lodestars of accuracy and quality.

Against this backdrop of rougher waters and heightened standards, we not only persevered: we thrived. When our Editorial Board took the reins last spring, we entered with a vision—one that entailed growing our readership, increasing our subscriber base, strengthening our social media presence, and, above all, solidifying our role as the preeminent source for regulatory news, analysis, and insight. And starting last summer, we sought to achieve just that: we expanded the scope of our coverage, published more series and special features than ever before, established a content alerts system for our readers, ratcheted up our social media activity, implemented a series of internal changes aimed at streamlining our operations, added new features to our weekly newsletter and other regularly produced content, and made major updates to our publication that culminated in the recent unveiling of our redesigned website, bearing our new name, The Regulatory Review.

These changes no doubt contributed significantly to the achievement of our vision. Over the course of the past year, we drew more readers, more contributing experts, and more attention to our essays than in our publication’s previous seven years. By way of example, within this past year alone, our followings increased by an amount equivalent to our growth over the course of the preceding four years combined. Further to this point, with many of these changes conceived of and in place well before the November election, we were uniquely positioned to navigate what at first seemed to be the post-election period’s tumultuous waters—and, ultimately, to emerge, within an already-crowded media environment, as a vital platform for reasoned, thoughtful, and incisive policy discussions and debates.

In a far cry from where concerned colleagues and peers had anticipated we might be just months ago, we are very much here to stay. Indeed, our role has never been more important than it is now.

All of these successes are due to all of those with whom I had the great privilege of working this past year: specifically, my exceedingly talented colleagues, and one extraordinary professor. I would like to close with some words of thanks directed at them.

First, a much-deserved acknowledgment of my fellow staff members on The Regulatory Review—that is, the writers, the Communications Editors, the Associate Editors, and the members of the Editorial Board. Every day, the wheels of this well-oiled machine churned, with my colleagues seamlessly and deftly operating each of its many parts. Collectively, they edited and published hundreds of essays, compiled dozens of newsletters, crafted thousands of tweets, and contributed countless invaluable insights that enabled us to grow and flourish.

That we were this successful started at the top, with our outstanding Editorial Board. I extend a special note of gratitude to my five fellow Editorial Board members, for joining me on this journey over the past year, and for having been the greatest team to work with through and through. Every day I was dazzled and inspired by their talents, and by all that they did to make this a banner year for us. And I can only hope, as we prepare to graduate and go our separate ways and head out into the world of practice, that I will have the good fortune of working with colleagues as remarkable as they are. It was a privilege working with and getting to know each of them, and I thank them for their incredible work over the past year.

Of course, it is because of one person in particular that I have the good fortune of writing this essay in the first place: Professor Coglianese, otherwise known as this publication’s founder, faculty advisor, and lynchpin. I would like to think that in every student’s life, there are good professors, great professors, and outstanding professors. Good professors lay the foundations for their students, setting them on a safe and well-traveled path, on which many students had ventured before. Great professors, who are rarer, will go beyond that, helping their students chart their own journeys and then pushing those students to go the extra mile. And then there are those outstanding professors, who enter their students’ lives, once in a lifetime. Those professors will quite literally tell their students to reach for the stars and then travel the distance with them, providing indispensable support and guidance through every phase of the journey. Professor Coglianese is, undeniably, an outstanding professor.

I distinctly recall sitting in Professor Coglianese’s office around this same time last year, charting out a vision for the coming year. No idea was quixotic; no goal unattainable. The word “no” simply never entered the conversation when I presented my ideas for improving the publication. Rather, we focused on how to achieve this vision, and over the months that followed, we set out on attaining it. He provided invaluable counsel and feedback every step of the way, each piece of advice infused with characteristically astute, thoughtful, and detailed insights.

But throughout this process, Professor Coglianese did not simply help our publication grow. In working with all of us on staff, he helped each and every one of us grow, too. On a personal note, he has helped me grow as a writer, as an editor, as a colleague, as a teacher, as a leader, and, simply, as a person. His selflessness, understanding, patience, and tireless commitment to producing the best work possible is truly a model to observe, and it is one that I can only hope to emulate as I enter private practice. I thank him for providing me with opportunities that I would have never dreamed of having when I set foot on campus as a first-year law student—the kinds of opportunities that have enabled me to write this final story for The Regulatory Review.

Although my own story comes to an end here, this is, as I have noted, far from the last chapter for The Regulatory Review. Rather, it is only the beginning—a beginning for a wonderful new team, poised to take the reins of this publication in just a few days’ time. For my part, I look forward to taking a step forward into the world of legal practice, and joining our many other readers in following the stories about regulation—stories that I have no doubt this remarkable publication will continue to chronicle and share with the world in the days, months, and years to come.

Kim Kirschenbaum

Kim Kirschenbaum is a third-year law student at the University of Pennsylvania Law School and the founding editor-in-chief of The Regulatory Review. She was previously the editor-in-chief of RegBlog, The Regulatory Review’s predecessor.