Expediting Life

What if the rest of the world was like law review submissions?

Law Review Submission: Dear Harvard, I’ve gotten an offer from Podunk State Law Journal, but I’d really rather publish with you. Please get back to me in four days.

Blogging: Dear Eugene, I’ve gotten an offer to post this at Co-Op, but I’d really rather post it with you. Please get back to me in four days.

Employment: Dear Prestigious Firm, I’ve gotten an offer from Starbucks, but I’d really rather work for you. Please get back to me in four days.

Teaching: Dear class, I’ve gotten an offer to teach you the Rule against Perpetuities, but I’d really rather go to the beach. Please get back to me in four days.

Dating: Dear Sally, I’ve gotten an offer from Jenny, but I’d really rather date you. Please get back to me in four days.

Foreign Policy: Dear Iran, I’ve gotten an offer to invade Iraq, but I’d really rather invade you. Please get back to me in four days.

The hereafter: Dear God, I’ve gotten an offer from Satan, but I’d really rather spend eternity with you . . .

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8 Responses

  1. anon says:

    And the whole submission process:

    Dear students,

    The exam is over. Hand in your bluebooks, and a copy of your CV and Law School and College Transcripts. The prestige of the institutions on your CV, and the grades you got in your other classes (depending upon the prestige of the professor) will decide which grade I give you in this course.

    Alternative: [These things will decide] whether I read your bluebook at all.


  2. clerk says:

    For better or worse, it is how clerkship interviews often work

  3. Jim Graves says:

    Employment situations often work exactly that way. Offers come with time limits. If you’re interviewing at multiple companies, and one makes you an offer but you’d rather work somewhere else, you need either to (a) convince the other place to make you an offer fast, or (b) decide whether the chance of getting in at your preferred employer is worth dropping a sure thing.

    Let me turn your dating analogy on its head: “Dear [Fill In The Blank]. Would you go to prom with me? If yes, and if no one more attractive and likely to give me smoochies will take me, I’ll go to the prom with you.”

    The law review, like the prospective prom date, isn’t thrilled at being one of 300 prospects, only to be dumped if the prettiest girl in school happens to say “yes.” Anyone in that situation would be justified in saying “take me or don’t take me, but I’m not your backup plan.”

    Submitting articles to multiple journals seems unique to legal scholarship. In most fields, it’s very bad form (or even unethical) to submit an article to multiple journals. Many journals’ submission guidelines outright forbid submitting to them something that will or has been submitted elsewhere while it is in consideration.

    So law journals–student staffed, their reputations tied inextricably to the prestige of their schools–are trying to prevent being played like the girl with the “great personality.” The interesting question is not why, but how legal scholarship got to be that way. Is it because the writers are professors, the reviewers are students, and the professors don’t fundamentally respect those can decide whether to accept an article? Is there a different balance between the number of journals and the number of potential authors in legal scholarship than in other academic fields? Are law journals so desperate for articles that only the most prestigious could survive on a sole-submission policy? Or is there some other reason why law, apparantly unique in academic fields, sees journals as legitimate targets of mass submissions in hopes of playing up to the most prestigious acceptance possible?

  4. But the rest of the world often resembles law review submissions.

    We’re frequently searching for something better than what we’ve got. Perhaps you can develop this into a new popular philosophy book: The Law Review as a Metaphor for Life.

  5. Kaimi says:

    Actually, I was thinking I’d go with the title, Everything I really needed to know in life I learned on law review.

    The best part is, my submission strategy will be all lined up for me.

    Dear Oxford, I’ve gotten an offer to self publish this book at self-publishing.com, but I’d really rather publish with you. Please get back to me in four days. . .

  6. anony says:

    Or even better, the reality behind the messages in those wonderful rejection letters:

    Dear Author [Moron who doesn’t deserve my time since, I, afterall am an editor at Top-15 Law Review, and what are you — Professor where?].

    While we certainly enjoyed your well written and thought out piece [translation — Your article makes a nice filler for my desk leg], we regret to inform you [seriously, we regret nothing — afterall we are at Top 15 Law School] that we are unable to extend you an offer to publish at this time — [at this time meaning, anytime]. We certainly encourage you to continue to submit your work to the ___ law review [Translation: Hang in there sunshine — someone somewhere will think this is worth their time, just not us].

    Best regards [not really]

    The Law Review Gods [that is our official title].

  7. Haninah says:

    @ Jim Graves:

    I suspect that you’re right that the basic structure of the journal world is different in law than in other disciplines. After all, there’s no “Harvard Review of Physics” or “Albert Einstein Journal of Medicine” (or if they do exist, they’re not front-line journals). In the natural sciences in particular, and to a lesser extent in the social sciences, there is a centralized journal system based around the professional societies (American Association for the Advancement of Science, American Physical Society, AMA, etc.). Generally speaking, the more important your research, the more general the journal, and the society, that will publish it (most important research/er gets published in the AAAS’s “Science,” most parochially significant research gets published in the American Neutrino Society (made it up, but I’m sure it exists)’s “Neutrino Review.” In law, on the other hand, you have a market system, where many journals with overlapping topical scopes are competing for the same articles (and many articles competing for slots in the same journals), so it’s only natural that properties like reputation will play an important role in deciding which journals get the submitter’s “business” (and vice versa).

  8. David Bernstein says:

    VERY funny!