Publishing Student Work
I run a seminar each Spring and I often get terrific student papers. I encourage my students to publish their work, frequently referring them to Eugene Volokh’s extraordinarily helpful guide (and, yes, encouraging them to buy it!). I’m now trying to boil down some advice for them into a draft memo.
I’m inserting a rough draft of it after the jump. I’d love to hear any advice from readers about ways I could improve this memo…particularly if you know particular journals that welcome the work of students from outside their home institution. And, of course, if this humble effort can be of any aid to your students, please feel free to distribute it (with the caveat that it’s just a draft!).
Re: Publishing Your Paper
Congratulations on completing an excellent paper! I have written up this memo to give you some advice on the next steps you might take toward publishing it. While publication is never guaranteed, there is usually a venue that will agree to make your insights on timely issues available to the world. This memo focuses on
A) Why you should publish your piece.
B) How you can get it ready for publication.
C) Where you can send it to be published.
D) When you should have the piece prepared and submitted to journals.
A. Why Publish?
Publishing is both in your self-interest and in the public interest. First, if you start looking at the websites of successful lawyers, you will notice that many of them mention the books, articles, and practice guides they have written. A publication indicates that you have thought deeply about a subject, proposed a solution, and had both your analysis and conclusion validated by an external reviewer.
Moreover, to the extent you can believe in your conclusions, you are helping the world by publishing your piece. If your paper just sits on your hard drive, no one can access your thoughts. Publishing allows you to influence the course of events via original argument. Your ideas can matter, if you take the few extra steps mentioned below in order to disseminate them.
B. How to Publish?
Although the academic legal community does a great deal of substantive good in the world, it is also, for better or worse, obsessed with form. The most important step you can take now to assure publication of your paper is to make it look like a law review article. That includes the following steps.
1. Isolate a thesis that can be stated in a sentence.
2. In the paragraph of the introduction where you state your thesis, describe each section of the paper in a sentence.
3. Format the article like the attached sample article (you can use this document as a template—just type in your own title and name, and copy in the text of your article).
4. Write a brief letter describing your piece and requesting publication.
When you’ve got all this together, you can electronically submit your piece to most journals.
You should read the following document before you submit your work:
If you think it would be helpful, check out the entire book from the library, or purchase it yourself.
If this all sounds like too much work, you might just send in the paper as it is and take your chances. But note that the law reviews don’t like looking at the same piece twice, so it’s advisable to make your first effort your best.
C. Where to Publish?
1. Here is a service that allows you to simply check boxes and send your piece (and a letter of submission) to law reviews via email:
2. Note that this service is both over and underinclusive. It is overinclusive because it includes the main law reviews of each school. You will probably find that the main law review of each law school only publishes pieces from professors and students on that law review. It is underinclusive because it fails to mention some journals of “Law & (some other subject).” You therefore might want to independently submit to journals of “Law &,” such as journals of law & technology. The following URL’s can give you some leads on these journals:
Some of these journals require hard copy submissions, but virtually all the technology ones conduct their business via email.
D. When to Publish?
There really is no hard and fast rule here, but you should try to submit it in September/October, or March/April. If circumstances prevent you from doing so, feel free to submit it later on. Just know that some journals fill up as the year goes on.