Category: Law School (Law Reviews)


Ranking Law Reviews as the August Window Opens

It’s not so clear whether the recent spate of scholarship on ranking law reviews is a reaction to an emerging phenomenon or oblivious to it. Rankings of law reviews long predate the recent efforts and, indeed, long predate the US News & World Report ranking of law schools. However, judging from my younger colleagues, US News is a perfect proxy for law review ranks. (To that extent, I take an even stronger position than Professor Alfred Brophy’s recent posting on SSRN, which, after engaging in considerably more empirical research than I, finds a .86 correlation between citations to a school’s main review and USNews peer review ranking).

In short, I believe that, when engaged in window shopping during the Spring and summer submission seasons., both the submission strategy and the expedite strategy are pretty much dictated by where a particular review’s law school falls on the US News scale. There is almost no concern with whether a review is better (or worse) than its home law school, nor any effort to consult studies such as Professor Brophy’s.

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Froomkin’s Law Review Copyright Wiki

copyright-symbol1a.jpgOne of the things I always attempt to do with my scholarly work is to ensure that I keep the copyright in my name. This gives me the maximum freedom in how I choose to use and distribute my work in the future. Law reviews have a welter of different policies with regard to copyright that sometimes vary from year to year and from author to author. After negotiating, I have been able to secure copyright in my work with most journals, with just a few exceptions. Having knowledge about a journal’s past copyright practices can be very helpful. I know of at least one author who was told by a law review that it was against their policy to give him copyright. This was false, since the law review had given me copyright in my piece in the very same issue. Once he told them about the discrepancy, the journal editors quickly changed their position and gave him copyright.

To help bring more clarity to the confusing and contradictory world of law review copyright experiences, Michael Froomkin has developed a wiki to track the copyright policies of various law reviews. He describes the project as follows:

The purpose of this website is for legal academics and others to share our copyright experiences with law journals and other legal publishers. As academics, we have an interest in ensuring the widest dissemination of our work. Historically, Law Journals have tended to use standard-form copyright agreements that reqire a copyright assignment, and have tended to impose unreasonable restrictions on our rights to share and re-use our own work.

This is starting to change. Increasingly, law journals, are adopting reasonable policies, or at least are open to negotiation. Due to the transitory nature of student-run law journal staffs, some staffs are actually unaware of their own past practices.

On the pages linked from here, legal writers describe their copyright experiences and law journals describe their policies. The information is as good or bad as what you contribute to it.

Hat tip: Paul Caron


A Second Law Review Submission Guide

Tony Sebok (Brooklyn Law) has graciously permitted me to post a law review submissions guide he compiled. Together with a similar guide created by Scott Moss (in XLS format) faculty can have a pretty clear sense of what many of the top journals are up to this cycle. Maybe our new motto should be: “the Law, the Universe, and some Public Goods.”

That said, there would be clearly an enormous public benefit were this process to be wikified. Although my preference would be for ExpressO to manage a centralized information clearinghouse, perhaps that type of command and control thinking is obsolete. So how about it. Do any of our readers know how to make a wiki for law review submission related information?

UPDATE: I’ve created a law review information wiki. (I feel like such a proud papa.) It is currently a stub, with links to the files we’ve posted here, and a skelatal outline. Our readers are encouraged to go onto the page and make it better.


Chart of Law Review Submission Policies

lawgavel2.jpgScott Moss, a law professor at Marquette and a reader of this blog, emailed me a very useful chart he created of law review submission policies at the top 37 law school’s law reviews. He has graciously allowed me to post it here. According to Scott, he stopped at 37 journals for no other reason than it was getting tedious and boring. The chart has information about article length, spacing, anonymity, mail vs. ExpressO, dates by which journals will begin reviewing this fall, and more. Thanks, Scott!


Law Review Article Submission Resources (Fall 2006)

book21a.jpgThe fall law review submission window opens in mid-to-late August, so I thought I’d reprise an earlier post with some useful resources for submitting articles.

Article Submission Length Restrictions

Emory Law School’s Library has a very useful chart of article length restrictions at the top 35 law reviews.

The general consensus is that many top law reviews have an article length limit of 35,000 words and a preference for no more than 25,000 words. Virginia Law Review has the strictest policy, with a limit (not just a preference) of under 25,000 words. All the rest have either no upper limit or a 35,000 to 40,000 word limit. As for preferences, the range is between 25,000 to 35,000 words, with most at 25,000.

Law Review Contact Information

1. Emory Law School’s Library maintains contact information, including email addresses, for the top 25 law reviews.

2. JURIST has links to countless law review websites.

3. LexisNexis Directory of Law Reviews

Electronic Submissions

1. ExpressO provides for electronic submission to over 450 law reviews. However, a number of the top 25 law reviews still require either paper submissions or electronic submissions via their own website. For those law reviews not allowing an ExpressO electronic submission, ExpressO will print out the article and send it to these journals in hard copy. It costs extra for these submissions.

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Is ExpressO Winning the War Against Chaos?

expresso.gifOver the last few article submission cycles, law professors have become accustomed to submitting articles through ExpressO. But it’s become clear that a battle has erupted between the centralizing forces of ExpressO and the top law reviews, which increasingly want authors to submit electronically through their individual webpages. This fight threatens to ruin the utility of ExpressO, and not incidentally make the process almost as inconvenient as it was when authors sent out dozens (or scores) of mail-merged letters.

A colleague points out that ExpressO is offering a new service for journals: LawKit. LawKit is a database management system that allows the reviews to manage the submission and editing process. But the most promising part of the system, it seems to me, is that it may have been designed to bring defecting law reviews back into the fold. According to the website, reviews can get articles onto LawKit in one of three ways:

1. through a web submission form accessible from your law review’s web site; 2. through ExpressO; or 3. an editor can upload a paper on the author’s behalf.

Regardless of the method used, the submitted articles all end up in the same place (the pending submissions queue in the Submission Management screens).

That is, if a review decides to use adopt the LawKit management system, it gets hooked back into the ExpressO submission service. It may be that it is LawKit that has encouraged a top journals like Georgetown, which had moved away from Expresso, to change its mind.

I endorse ExpressO and I wish it success in centralizing this process. There is no good reason for 100 different journals to require authors to submit on 100 different web pages. Of course, down the road, I hope that ExpressO plans to add more functionality for authors. For example, wouldn’t it be useful if the system could track when journals start making offers, what percentages of their books are full, etc.? Blogs can’t do everything, after all. It would also be useful were the entire process of submission to be open (but name-blind) so that we could get better data on the purported letterhead bias and the unravelling law review market theory.


The Wonders of Law Review Cover Art

Recently I’ve been sent the reprints of several completed articles. I’ve also been cleaning and packing my office to get ready for my move to California and have rediscovered some of my old reprints.

Now, I’m no art critic, but when I travel, I do like to go to art museums. And, I have to admit that I’m somewhat underwhelmed with the quality of the law review cover art.

Granted, this was an unscientific survey of what I had lying around in my office. Maybe some of the law reviews that have yet to accept my articles have a large art budget (but I’m doubtful).

Here’s what I found:

White and red, with a line drawing of what I think is a law school building.

Green and white, with a line drawing of what I think is the law school building, but which oddly resembles a giant tortoise.

Navy Background with the school’s seal.

Gray with navy printing. No graphics.

Navy with gray printing. No graphics.

All pretty standard, and all pretty dull. Sooooo… you tell me. What’s the coolest law review cover out there? Does your school’s journal have the school mascot printed on it? Is it purple and chartreuse? Or, perhaps you will tell me that I am completely wrong, and it is the “understated” nature of the law review cover that is part of its appeal.


Counter-cyclical journals

Everyone knows that law reviews pick piece up in the Spring and in the Fall.

Except when they don’t. A growing number of journals seem to be bucking the trend and seeking at least some summer solicitations. For example, the front page for the Duke Law Journal website states outright that “We will review articles throughout the summer.”

This post hopes to collect some data from our readers: Which are the counter-cyclical journals (either this year, or in general)? Which journals are seeking summer submissions? If you’re an editor or otherwise knowledgeable on the specifics of a journal that is presently pursuing (at least in part) a counter-cyclical strategy, please weigh in in the comments; ditto if you recently published an off-season piece or picked up an off-season piece from the journal side.

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!).

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Law Review Article Submissions Outside the “Windows”

window3a.jpgFor law professors submitting law review articles, it has become common knowledge that there are two good times to submit — in late February/early March when new law review editors are selected (the “March window”) or in late August when law review editors return from their summer vacation (the “August window”). There has been a lot of discussion about when, precisely, the sweetest spot in a particular window is, but I want to raise a different question in this post. What are the merits of submitting pieces outside of the two windows?

I assume that submitting a piece in the mid-to-late fall wouldn’t be wise, as most journals are nearly full. On the other hand, suppose a top journal has been particularly picky and is left with an open slot or two. Submissions have largely dried up, and then your piece comes in. The editors might think: “Well, it ain’t great, but we’re not likely to get anything much better at this late juncture, and we need to fill the space, so . . . .” If this is true, then submissions beyond the fall window are a risky gamble, but they could pay off big.

What about submissions during the summer? Suppose one were to send in a piece in late April, or May, or (gasp!) even June or July? What would happen? I wonder about this. The optimist thinks: “This is an ideal time. The journal editors are no longer inundated with millions of submissions, so they can take a bit more time to read the piece. They have already seen a bunch of submissions, so their expectations are more realistic (i.e. they expect lower quality). Therefore, it’s a good thing to submit when it isn’t rush hour for submissions.” The pessimist thinks: “This is a terrible time. The editors will be busy with summer jobs and will not want to bother discussing pieces during the summer. Therefore, they will be less likely to suggest a piece for a full committee read during this time.” Who is right, the pessimist or the optimist? Is it better to submit during a window or at another time? Does it matter? And is one window better than the other?

Answers from law review editors will be especially appreciated.