Category: Law School


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.


The ABA, Affirmative Blackmail, and Being on Admissions

This week’s events (the promulgation of new rules by the ABA on diversity admissions, publication of David Bernstein‘s op-ed, Affirmative Blackmail, and the ensuing blogospheric discussions) have prompted me to post on a topic that I have been ruminating about for some time: admissions. At the Glom last year, I blogged a series of advice posts (here, here, here and here) from information gleaned after my first year on admissions committee. This is my second year on that committee, and I have to admit that the shiny has worn off a bit for me. I wanted to be on the admissions committee because I wanted to find out why we had classes with low percentages of minority students. Surely there must be some subconscious, yet insidious discrimination creating this result. I was going to ferret out this bias and squash it like a bug. What I found was a problem that I couldn’t fix. The problem is math. Prof. Bernstein and Thom Lambert point out that the ABA’s new rules show that the ABA has a conscious disregard for the rule of law. I would add that the rules also show a conscious disregard for math. For schools like Marquette, in the middle of the rankings, with a small faculty, administration and budget, cold, hard numbers are our problem when it comes to increasing diversity. Putting aside debates as to whether affirmative action is good, bad, constitutional, unconstitutional or whatever, the most affirmative action-minded admissions committee has to make very difficult choices in an environment of scarcity. Scarcity of applicants; scarcity of dollars.

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ExpressO or ExpressNo?

It’s that season, again, when law profs (and others) spit and polish their newest works, preparing them for delivery to their favorite 50…75…100 law reviews. Colleagues have been dropping by my office with unusual frequency asking me my opinion of ExpressO. (ExpressO is a service that delivers manuscripts to law reviews on behalf of authors – primarily via email.) When I last circulated an article, I used a three-prong strategy: ExpressO to most journals, direct mailing to those that didn’t accept ExpressO, and Fed Ex to ten journals I thought particularly ripe for placement.

In the end, all three approaches yielded at least one offer. (I ended up placing the piece in a Fed Ex journal – though I’ll never know if my high-rent mailing was a factor in that board’s decision.) The experience was successful but yielded little useful data. Some people have expressed the fear that Expresso does not work well for authors using less glammy letterhead. These folks think that members of the academic hoi polloi need to jam hardcopy in front of an editor to get his/her attention. On the other hand, I know several people from solid – but not gourmet – institutions that have done very well with ExpressO. So some questions:

What do you – writers and editors – think of ExpressO?

And particularly student editors, two questions:

What do you do with ExpressO submissions – read them on the computer or print them out?

Do you treat ExpressO submissions differently than manuscripts emailed directly?


On Strategic Planning and the “Vision Thing”

My school is in the midst of developing its strategic plan. As I understand it, strategic planning is the process of figuring out where an institution wants to be at a certain point in the future as well as how to get there. In this effort, we wasted, er, spent a whole Saturday talking about what we want to become. And, of course, we want to be a first-class school, recognized for excellence in teaching, scholarship, and service to the global community. Who doesn’t?

I’d like to hear from two groups of readers: First, to those of you academics who have gone through strategic planning in the past, has the process ever induced you to change your individual priorities, or has your school focused attention on achieving a particular goal, to the detriment of others? I.e., does strategic planning frequently lead a school to say, “We are proud of our teachers, but we really want to make a mark with scholarship,” or does strategic planning tend just to find a new way of stating a commitment to be all things to all people? And if the former, does that change the way individual faculty members approach their jobs?

Second, do students considering which law school to attend care about these statements? I remember reading statements of this type and all but ignoring them because they made the same unverifiable claims about the quality of teaching. Occasionally certain emphases could be discerned, but that was rare. I may be an exception, though, and I would be interested to hear others’ impressions of the importance of these statements from a marketing perspective.


Why You Should Teach Information Privacy Law

privacy2b.jpgSince now is the time that many new law professors are being hired, I thought I’d re-post an earlier post about teaching information privacy law. When new law professors are hired, there is often a lot of flexibility in what courses they can teach. While the law school will typically want a newly-hired professor to teach one or two “core” courses (first year courses or required courses), other courses are often highly negotiable. So if you want to teach a particular course, sometimes all you have to do is ask for it.

My goal is to get more new professors to think about teaching information privacy law. (I have a casebook in the field, so this is really a thinly-disguised self-plug.)

Information privacy law remains a fairly young field, and it has yet to take hold as a course taught consistently in most law schools. I’m hoping to change all that. So if you’re interested in exploring issues involving information technology, criminal procedure, or free speech, here are a few reasons why you should consider adding information privacy law to your course mix:

1. It’s new and fresh. Lots of media attention on privacy law issues these days. Students are very interested in the topic.

2. Lively cases and fascinating issues abound. There’s barely a dull moment in the course. Every topic is interesting; there is no rule against perpetuities to cover!

3. It’s a way to teach fascinating First Amendment, Fourth Amendment, and other constitutional law issues. Often, those wanting to teach in these areas have to wait in line until the course is “released” by professors who already teach it. Getting the First Amendment course, for example, is about as easy as unseating an incumbent in Congress. Information privacy law lets you teach really interesting First Amendment issues and there’s usually not a long succession line to teaching an information privacy law course. Moreover, many law schools already have somebody teaching cyberlaw, and information privacy law covers some incredibly interesting law and information technology issues.

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Teaching disturbing law

A friend of mine who is a relatively new professor is teaching some material that includes cases relating to sexual harrassment law. She is mulling over how best to present the material, and she asked me:

I was just reading again over some of the cases assigned to the students. One of the cases in particular reports graphic and disturbing acts (gang rapes, etc.) and language (repeated use of the word “fuck”) as part of the factual summary and the discussion of the issues. It occurred to me that I might warn the students about the potentially offensive language and graphic description of sexual acts. What do you think? Should I say anything?

My own reaction is mixed. On the one hand, part of me says that it’s fine to just assign the material as is. I can see various reasons for a hard-line approach. Law students are grownups, and I’m not sure that professors should treat them in an overly paternalistic manner. Also, it is hard to teach a class on a subject like sexual harrassment (or criminal law, perhaps) without discussing some disturbing things. Finally, I don’t think that a law graduate is prepared to act as an attorney in the field unless she can deal with disturbing fact patterns. This assignment is not gratuitous; these are the reported facts in reported cases.

On the other hand, there are also very good reasons not to be a hard-liner, and I think it’s necessary to be sensitive to potential concerns. Some of the students in any class may be victims of rape or abuse; they may have loved ones who have suffered through these ordeals; or they may simply be sensitive to the topic. I think the professor has to be sensitive to those concerns, and handle the material with care. (I’ve seen professors who did not handle such material with care, and the result was often disastrous).

As far as whether of not she should highlight the issue (my friend’s specific concern), I am again of two minds. On the one hand, perhaps the sensitive students would appreciate a warning. On the other hand, for many students, highlighting the issue could have the opposite effect, drawing more attention to lurid details than they deserve. I told her that in my opinion, I would lean towards a short warning myself (given the potential concerns of the more sensitive students), but that I thought she would also be fine if she didn’t warn, as long as she treated the material carefully.

However, I have absolutely zero experience in this area — there are not too many lurid details in Wills and Securities Regulation — and I feel a bit worried that my response to my friend left out important considerations. I’d like to hear what our readers think, if any wish to weigh in in the comments.

UPDATE: Paul Secunda posted on the same question, and has received a number of great suggestions and comments from his readers. Anyone interested in the topic should check out the thread over at Workplace Prof Blog.


Compilation of Posts on Academic Blogging

Ian Best, a 3L at Ohio State University Law School, has compiled a very comprehensive and helpful repository of blog posts about academic blogging.

An interesting fact about Ian’s blog — he writes:

I’m getting law school credit for blogging. And as far as I know, I’m the first law student to do so.

Maybe I should ask my dean for course relief for blogging. Hmmm. . . .


Law School Deans Without Law Degrees

Brian Leiter’s announcement of the new Dean search at Texas noted that:

My own view is that we’d hire someone outstanding who had a PhD, but not a JD, as long as their scholarly work was connected to law and they met the other desiderata.

This is interesting. Does anyone know, off-hand, if there are any law school deans who don’t possess JDs? It would seem (at first glance) pretty unlikely except at a certain type of school because of the need to connect with practicing attorney alumni. But perhaps it is the wave of the future?


Law Review Article Submission Resources

book21a.jpgFor those submitting law review articles this spring, I thought that it would be helpful to share 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 25 law reviews.

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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Spring Law Review Submission Season

A friend and colleague asked me to post a question about the timing of the upcoming spring submission season. Should he wait until March to send out the first wave of submissions for an essay he will soon complete, send it in the middle of February, or at some other time? This post last year by Orin Kerr says that “late February and early March” are the prime times, but I wonder if our readers can provide more specific advice or anecdotal information about turn-over in editorial boards. I’ve also heard of some journals moving to a rolling submissions process, but I don’t know how many use that system, or even whether such a transition would be viable if most of the market continues to accept pieces primarily in February/March and August.