In the bleak midwinter . . .

A little inside baseball discussion for the professoriate: it seems that law review submission time is upon us. 

My current submission strategy

My current submission strategy

Many of us are trying to put the finishing touches on articles during the winter teaching break. And, according to ExpressO, a number of highly-regarded reviews that have been closed to submissions are opening themselves again in the very near future.  Therefore, I think it’s safe to say a tsunami of footnotes is bearing down upon many law review offices.

For the relatively new, untenured among us – oh say, for instance, me – this is an especially important moment, and it’s important to get it right.  The pressure can make us a little loopy.  Last week I sat listening to the lovely Christmas carol In the Bleak Midwinter, and when it got to the verse, “What have I to offer, poor as I am?” the image that flashed in my mind was me, face smudged with dirt, sending out a crinkled copy of my current draft article.

Me, immediately following article submission

Me, immediately following article submission

A wonderful professor of mine – then untenured, now safely ensconced in the tenured embrace of the Ivy league – once dressed for Halloween as ‘Notenuratu,’ a vampire-like creature whose cape was covered with pages of his draft articles. 

But how, exactly, does one get the submission process right?  It’s a question that I suspect takes up a lot of chat time among us junior scholars.   Do you have a submission strategy?  Want to share it?  Pretty please?

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7 Responses

  1. 3L says:

    As an Exec Articles editor, I caution against submitting too early for the spring cycle because most editorial boards are brand new and don’t know what they’re doing yet. Let them cut their teeth on other articles.

  2. Unsure says:

    This whole “submission cycle” business, I’m told, is overrated. If a law review wants an article you write, my senior sources tell me, they’ll take it regardless of whether it is “in season” or not. So submit whenever you’re ready. Is this right? Or is timing part of the scholarly process too?

  3. The Dude says:

    As a current EIC, I would caution against completely ignoring the submission cycle. A top-tier journal that publishes 5+ issues an academic year might take your article “regardless of whether it is “in season.” However, lower-tier journals, that publisher fewer issues, often “fill-up” rapidly toward the middle or end of a submission cycle, and are unable to make publication offers. Even if they want your article, they are unable to make an offer because that decision is normally reserved for next year’s editorial board. Some journals simply stop checking their expresso account at that point (or deleting submissions), and these submissions never even make it to the next year’s board.

    Why do they fill up when good submissions might come along at a later date? Lower-tiered journals struggle to attract good article. Often, when they make an offer, the author uses that offer to parlay it into one from a higher-tiered journal. As a result, lower-tiered journals are worried they won’t be able to fill their volume will quality article. After all, if a good submission comes along later, a better journal will probably take it–that’s the assumption at least. The result: low quality articles get snapped up by over-offering non top-tier journals, which then stop monitoring submissions.

    In sum, unless you’re certain you’ll attract an offer from a tier 1 journal, you should strongly consider submitting during the submission cycle. It would be nice if there was a national EIC election day, but there’s not. I expect that many of the new EIC’s (who then install their editorial boards) are elected by the end of February. This might be the best time to submit.

  4. Jeff Lipshaw says:

    Ah, but the rejection season knows no bounds. In the spirit of the season, a rejection from a “top 20” review came down my chimney on December 23 for a piece I submitted in the “fall” submission season. (It’s in final edits in another journal.)

    It kind of reminded me of the most vitriolic “you aren’t complying with our discovery requests” letter I ever saw. After spending about a page and a half accusing the other lawyer of every offense known to humanity, God, and the FRCP, the letter, also dated something like December 23, closed with a perky “Best wishes for the holiday season.”

  5. krs says:

    Was a law review rejection letter full of vitriol, or did the closing just seem out of place?

    Civil discovery is 90% of the reason why lawyers are rightfully hated.

  6. Jeff Lipshaw says:

    No, it wasn’t vitriolic at all. Just weirdly late, and like a Xmas gift.

  7. 3L says:

    Think of what a great Xmas gift it would have been for the students, had they spent time reviewing your piece (which you didn’t withdraw upon accepting an offer at another journal) only to find, after extending an offer, that their time was wasted!