The ExpressO LawKit, Or Why NYU Law Review Ranks First

I’m beginning to get a better understanding of why the NYU Law Review ranks first in ExpressO submissions. As Al Brophy has suggested, NYU Law Review is one of the few top journals that articulates a strong preference for submission via ExpressO. This is not random. ExpressO offers law reviews a handy product called LawKit which tracks submissions. It works most easily when manuscripts arrive electronically via ExpressO. I have reason to believe that Berkeley Electronic Press requests, or perhaps even requires, that journals using LawKit state a clear preference for ExpressO submissions. Are the benefits of LawKit worth it? Perhaps.

The law review biz has become increasingly tough in recent years. First, a larger percentage of law faculty are productive scholars today than even a decade ago. This means that the raw number of submissions is on the rise. Second, the rise of e-submissions has substantially lowered both the cost, and time, involved in mass distribution of articles. One would therefore expect that authors are sending pieces to more and more journals. I wouldn’t be surprised if the average author targeted upwards of 75 journals per article. All of this volume puts huge demands on the already-taxed student editors. They have to track the pieces. They have to read the pieces. Perhaps most challengingly, they have to expedite the pieces. Looking at the LawKit demo pages, it appears that BePress has created a nice solution to a problem they, in part, created. No longer does some harried managing editor have to rifle through a bin of fat submissions to find the article Solove wants expedited by Tuesday. With a touch of a button, editor Joe Blow will received an email that he’s got to get off his butt and start reading…and he can download that article instantly, even as he half-concentrates on some obscure detail of the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act in Federal Courts class.

The editors I’ve been in touch with seem to like LawKit. From their point of view, as long as alternative submission strategies are permitted, channelling authors towards ExpressO is a small cost with a big payoff. I must admit that this all feels a little, well, Microsoft-like. Somehow, we all end up using Explorer because it works better on the ubiquitous Windows operating system. Still, there is utility in utility. (This reminds me a bit of the socialist’s response to having his laptop swiped: “property is theft, but so is theft.”) And there is also a certain satisfaction in knowing that NYU is top dog on ExpressO submissions for a rational reasons. Perhaps ExpressO is starting to corner the market because it leaves everyone just a little better off.

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