ExpressO Presents Yet Another Law Review Ranking
At the AALS conference this past weekend, I picked up the new glossy promoting ExpressO, the law review article submission service from Berkeley Electronic Press. ExpressO’s 2007 “Law Review Submission’s Guide” gives up the up-to-date ranking of the top 100 law reviews based on number of manuscripts received via ExpressO. The new data is interesting both as a snapshot of past author behavior, and perhaps as guidance about where the pack may be headed next. The study itself is not new – the 2006 rankings are here.
Here’s the latest top 20:
8. Notre Dame
15. San Diego
18. Southern Cal
19. Wake Forest
Cal was at 23, Michigan at 27, and Columbia at 80. We also learn that this ranking system offers that most precious of commodities: upward and downward mobility. Yale is #74 (down from #60), Harvard is #85 (down from #57), and the Alabama Law Review is a remarkably popular #22 (up from #64).
I suppose there are several things one could take away from this data. First, the degree of movement seems a bit surprising, since the number of submissions is probably fairly large, and the reputation of schools is pretty static. I wonder if this means that people read the prior year’s data, and specifically target under-submitted journals. This might explain a couple of other big leaps: San Diego from #85 to (gulp!) #15; Arizona to #4 from #29, California to #23 from #10. Perhaps minor fluctuations in US News rankings sends schools skittering in and out of the ExpressO top 50, as authors adjust their targets. It does seem clear that “long shot” journals receive fewer ExpressO submissions, but does that mean people are saving their money…or that they’d rather submit to the HLR and YLJ directly rather than through some funky electronic service? And if so, what to make of the popularity of NYU, Virginia and Chicago?
Of course, the explanation might be quite mundane. Maybe the big upward movers recently started accepting electronic copies. Maybe the raw number difference between the schools was tiny – since it costs relatively little to submit widely, there might only be a 5% variance between #10 and #80. Or maybe something on particular journal websites (think: HLR and YLJ) suggested that – notwithstanding ExpressO’s willingness to submit articles these reviews – authors were better served by direct submission.
It is clear that BePress thinks it’s useful to provide some ordering of journals, if only to generate posts like this. Nonetheless, one senses that folks in the People’s Republic are at least a bit embarrassed about the rankings. According to the booklet “they are intended to complement, not replace, other rankings mechanisms such as number of citations and law school ranking”. Uh huh.
I will leave it to others to spend countless hours doing the statistical legwork analyzing this new dataset. The list leaves me wondering the reasons for these preferences. And I wonder whether this data might be as good a proxy for perceptions of law school quality among productive junior faculty as the US News faculty reputation surveys. (I recognize that among top law schools, this might not be a particularly good indicator.)
The good news for authors is that last year, over 90% of all articles received at least one offer. And 45% got that first offer within a week. The good news for law school gossip hounds is that BePress has produced something new to assist in that most essential of all professorial pursuits: procrastination.
UPDATE: Over at Moneylaw, my old colleague Al Brophy takes the NYU Law Review to task for requiring those submitting electronically to use ExpressO. A fair critique, and a good explanation for NYU’s first place finish.