Ask an Articles Editor!

First of all, I want to thank all of the folks here at Concurring Opinions for agree to have me aboard this month. I’ve been a reader of this blog since it began, and have long appreciated its contributions to the legal blogosphere. In particular, I’ve very much enjoyed the symposium that ran for the first week of the month — so much so that I delayed this post in order to stay out of its hair!

As noted in my introduction post, I’m going to be starting my very first academic gig in a few weeks (I’m actually moving to Champaign on Monday). So part of my guest-blogging stint may focus on some very early “new prof” thoughts and questions. And part of it may be the usual scholarship/academic fare.

But the hook I used to dupe convince the good hosts of this blog to invite me this month was the fact that, up until a few month ago, I was an Articles Editor at The University of Chicago Law Review. And I figured, while I have my first real experience on the submissions side of the law review game, there are probably a lot of people who have questions about what I imagine remains quite an opaque process inside our “hallowed” offices. Some folks were lucky enough to be Articles Editors in law school themselves, but many folks were not so fortunate to have that inside scoop, and even the ex-AEs among us might like an update on what’s trending inside the law review office. I know that are a lot of repeated concerns about things like letterhead bias, topic issues, gender and racial matters, making your piece stand out, expedite tactics, etc., and while most of the (generally good) advice I’ve seen comes from professors speaking from long experience submitting pieces, I think speaking in the voice of an Articles Editor could help complete more of the puzzle.

So consider this open season to ask me anything. I’ll do my best to answer openly and frankly (my boss last year, James Tierney, did a similar thing with an international law focus at Opinio Juris a few months ago, but I’m aiming at a more general audience). Obviously, there are limits to what I can reveal — particular insofar as they touch on specific decisions we made — but I think there is a lot of room to cast some light. I’ll read over and organize the questions over the weekend and the move, and then I’ll put up a post with answers early next week.

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11 Responses

  1. Jake Linford says:

    Hi David,

    Thanks for taking on what may be a rush of questions.

    As they say, timing is everything. As best you can recall, when did your law review begin reviewing submissions in the fall and the spring?

    It may have been James Tierney who suggested that U. Chi. L. Rev. was taking submissions throughout the year. Were offers made during the “off-season?” If you can share, what proportion of offers made were for articles submitted spring / fall / off-season?

    As you look back on it now, did an author stand a reasonable chance of getting a good look outside the traditional seasonal flurries of submissions? Did an off-season submission get a better look?



  2. 1L says:

    Hi David,

    Thanks so much for this.

    I’m a rising 1L student at a T14 university. I know I can work hard and hopefully make law review in a few months, but I also may not get that opportunity. Is there an obvious bias against accepting articles/notes from law students at other universities who are not yet finished with their studies?

    Thanks again,


  3. Prof says:

    On the topic of expedites: Some suspect that many law reviews aren’t likely to even read a piece without an expedite request. How true? And to what extent, if any, does the source of the other offer matter? That is, if U of C Law Review got an expedite based on a “Tier One” journal, “Tier Two,” secondary journal vs. main-line review, etc., would that influence whether a piece gets a read and how favorable editors are likely to be disposed towards it?

    Also, if you don’t mind talking about it, what is the voting process? Does an article need consensus, majority, supermajority?

  4. Orin Kerr says:


    Two questions:

    1) Why does the U Chi LR do a symposium issue? Most journals use symposia to get authors who probably wouldn’t write for them otherwise, albeit at a cost of less strong articles. But your journal is prestigious enough to get the pick of submitted articles, at least outside the small number possibly taken by the HLR, YLJ, SLR, and the CLR.

    2) How much faculty pressure did you get to make offers to Chicago faculty members?

  5. Bruce Boyden says:

    What’s the answer to life, the universe, and, you know, everything?

  6. David Fagundes says:

    This is a great idea, and more information is always better, so in that vein I’d like to point out that I did a similar thread over at PrawfsBlawg this past May with Carl Engstrom, articles editor of the Minnesota Law Review, in which he answered some extensive interview questions and then responded in the thread.

  7. Josh Blackman says:


    I’m so glad you’re blogging here. On the topic of Chicago Law Review, did you see this post from Professor Bainbridge:

  8. 2nd Year prof says:

    1. What sort of thing (if any) stands out from a cover letter – both good and bad?

  9. WPB says:

    Do editors care (whether for better or worse) if an article has been posted on SSRN before submission? What about if Larry Solum has declared it Download of the Week?

  10. Anon says:

    Further to Josh’s point… to the extent that you established phases in your process (whether leading to peer review or not), what are the approximate number of articles that make it through the relevant cuts. As authors we often hear that our article has made it to board review or some other stage, but we have no idea by what percentage our chance of receiving an offer has improved. Obviously, one review’s process isn’t necessarily representative, but it’d be nice to hear your thoughts.

  11. Bruce Boyden says:

    Further to Anon’s question (and much more seriously than my prior comment), I’ve always assumed, and would like confirmation, that “your article has made it to Board review/final review/etc.” means “your article now has a (100/x)% chance of acceptance,” where x = the number of articles editors. I’m assuming in that that each articles editor picks one article per slot available to bring to the meeting.

    But just typing this, I’m now thinking that may be way overestimating the correct probability. Do articles editors pick *more than one* submission per slot available to bring to the meeting? If so, then I guess the correct percentage would be 100/xy, where y is the ratio of submissions brought to the meeting to slots available. If that’s correct, I’m curious what y typically is. If there’s no set “slots available,” then I guess I’m also interested in the relationship between the number of submissions each articles editor floats per meeting, on average, and the number actually accepted at the end of any given meeting. If that’s significantly higher than 1:1 then “your article has made it to final review” starts looking like “your article may be accepted, if you roll snake eyes.”