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Saturday, April 16, 2011

Law Review Submissions: Superstitions and Expeditions

A nascent thread is forming on an earlier post, but I thought it might make sense to create a new one to get more folks on board.  I know I have a number of thoughts/concerns/fears about the submission season this year.  Maybe other profs and law review editors might want to fill us in on topics like this:

  • Are ExpressO submissions still increasing?
  • Are reviews making deadlines on offers to publish earlier?
  • Are articles still in the 25K-30K word range, or are they creeping up in size?
  • Are law review editors using the special theory of relativity to create more hours in the day?

Your thoughts are appreciated.

UPDATE: Bumped to the top, as requested.  (Thanks, Dan!)  From the comments, it looks like the process is going really slowly this year.  And as a result, the Anxiety-O-Meter is off the charts.  So what is going on?  Has supply exceeded demand?  Are editors changing over later, or taking more time?  Or is our group of commenters unrepresentative?  Your thoughts would be appreciated.

UPDATE 2: Here is a link directly to comments 151-200.

UPDATE 3: Bumped again.  Here's a link to comments 250-300.  It looks like some optimism is breaking out on the board.  The available anecdotal evidence suggests that many reviews are choosing late this year.

Also, a PSA for ExpressO submitters: if you plan on expediting and you get an offer, please withdraw your article from those journals to whom you are not expediting.  It will make the process a lot easier for all concerned.  And of course, withdraw from all remaining journals once you have accepted an offer.  

UPDATE 4: Once more, with feeling.  The action continues!  Some journals may be full, but many remain open.  Here's a link to comments 400-450.

Posted by Matt Bodie on April 16, 2011 at 06:31 PM in Law Review Review, Life of Law Schools | Permalink


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Just based on my own experiences:

I use ExpressO unless the journal requires some other method.

My experience with top-20 journals is that offers are open for no more than 72 hours (and sometimes fewer than 24 hours), even if those hours fall over a weekend, and that journals resist extensions.

My articles are usually fewer than 30,000 words, but I have seen several articles published very recently that seem to have significantly more.

I don't know how law-review editors do it, but I certainly commend them for their herculean efforts at reading and responding to submissions.

Posted by: Scott Dodson | Feb 22, 2011 12:14:00 PM

As I note in a recent post on my patent scholarship blog about the patent-paper analogy, articles editors (at least at Yale) still value brevity: "we rejected otherwise outstanding articles for being way too long, and the long articles we took were accepted in spite of, not because of, their length."

Posted by: Lisa Larrimore Ouellette | Feb 22, 2011 5:15:22 PM

It's acceptable to submit articles where the short-form cites to articles previously cited in the footnotes contain blanks (as in "See Bodie, supra note _, at 147"), right?

I haven't pulled the Expresso trigger yet; I'm still waiting for some feedback from readers. Previously-documented alleged sightings of Redyip notwithstanding, it's still early days, right?

Posted by: anon | Feb 22, 2011 7:24:39 PM

It's early. Leaving blanks -- who knows? If I were an article editor, I would fear that if you can't figure out how to use the cross-reference function in Word (and really, it's pretty darned easy), then you won't know how to use track changes, either. Which would make my life difficult.

Posted by: BDG | Feb 23, 2011 12:51:33 PM

Its amazing how fast law review editors can read papers, I am most impressed with the editors at Missouri who managed to read and consider my 25k word article in no less than 20 minutes. An incredible feat...

Posted by: anony | Feb 23, 2011 1:27:28 PM

Missouri has a TERRIBLE reputation for that. Last year, myself and three of my colleagues (at a top 50 school) all had our articles rejected from Missouri in less than half an hour. And all of our articles went on to place in a top 50 journal. Not sure what' up at Missouri -- I was hoping they just had a bad articles editor last year, but sounds like this may be institutional.

Posted by: AnonProf | Feb 23, 2011 3:40:44 PM

AnonProf, I hate instant-rejections as much as the next person, but if your article went to a higher placed journal, they were right to instant-reject it. It saved them the effort of reading an article that they would have lost anyway.

Posted by: TJ | Feb 23, 2011 4:50:29 PM

My experience is that many top journals simply have an automatic delay built in to their automatic-rejection-letter software, which waits a seemly amount of time (a few days or a week) before telling an author that their article has been rejected-- even if it was rejected after a five-minute skim, as many are.

So my guess is that Missouri doesn't review articles any more cursorily than comparable schools-- they just don't have the software hide what they're doing.

Posted by: WPB | Feb 23, 2011 4:52:32 PM

It's my first time submitting an article (as the son of Redyip, I had to wait for the honored one to give me an individualized go-ahead). I just sent the piece yesterday and had one journal send me an email saying they have received and are reviewing it. Is there any significance to that, or is that just a form email? I see from other comments that some journals give instant rejections, so wondered if the "we received and are reviewing" email indicates some interest--or, perhaps, they are simply providing some deference to Redyip's offspring.

Posted by: son of Redyip | Feb 24, 2011 8:40:12 AM

S.o.R., I'm not familiar with the particular journal you're asking about, but in my experience those are usually form letters.

Posted by: WPB | Feb 24, 2011 10:32:06 AM

thanks WPB--perhaps sometimes even Son of Redyip needs more than name recognition to achieve success

Posted by: son of Redyip | Feb 24, 2011 10:56:52 AM

Son of Redyip,

Yes, as Will says, that's just an automatically-generated form letter.

Posted by: Orin Kerr | Feb 24, 2011 11:24:23 AM

I just got a near instant rejection from Baylor ... though apparently they gave the 30,000 word piece "careful consideration."

Posted by: tm | Feb 24, 2011 3:19:54 PM

I submitted 55 minutes ago. Still no rejections! Does that mean I should go ahead and expedite at Top 20 places?

Posted by: Joe | Feb 24, 2011 4:35:35 PM

I just got a rejection email from Fordham, and I haven't submitted yet. I thought the letterhead was supposed to help.

Posted by: First Year Prof | Feb 25, 2011 2:01:34 PM

Rejections from Baylor, BYU, Chicago, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Penn. This process is excruciating.

Posted by: gulp | Feb 27, 2011 11:51:46 AM

Hey, Gulp, what day did you submit?

Posted by: Still writing | Feb 27, 2011 12:47:26 PM

Feb. 15-22, probably too early.

Posted by: gulp | Feb 27, 2011 12:56:35 PM

Gulp, I got rapid rejections from the first 5 schools on your list, and I submitted around the same time as you. No worries. There are many other law reviews out there.

Posted by: Anon | Feb 27, 2011 2:22:10 PM

I just got an offer with a one-week acceptance window -- is that standard, or an unusually short time frame?

Posted by: tm | Feb 27, 2011 6:52:52 PM

tm, my experience is that outside the top 20 or so journals a week is not unusual, but you can often bargain for more.

Posted by: Anon2 | Feb 27, 2011 8:29:17 PM

Two more rejections this morning. I wish I could feel reassured that there are lots of other law reviews out there, but the nightmares aren't helping.

Posted by: gulp | Feb 28, 2011 9:53:01 AM

I've now gotten offers from a few journals, two of which gave me 5 days to accept. One is a top 50, one is a top 75.

Posted by: AnonProf | Feb 28, 2011 10:43:00 AM

People with offers, to what do you attribute them (aside from the merit of your submissions)? Or editors, on what factors have you based decisions so far?

Posted by: gulp | Feb 28, 2011 11:34:10 AM

Also, how did you get the offer? Phone? Email?

(I've gotten two dings after submitting last Thursday. Baylor and Missouri.)

Posted by: Joe | Feb 28, 2011 12:00:36 PM

I submitted Feb. 23 and am now wondering whether (as Gulp notes) this was too early. I just learned that the editorial staff at one top 25 journal doesn't even begin looking at submissions until March 21.

Joe - I also got early rejections from Baylor and Missouri.

Posted by: tm | Feb 28, 2011 12:42:04 PM

Do you all justify your right margins before submitting? (Volokh's book recommends it, but I think that just makes it harder to edit.)

Posted by: anon | Feb 28, 2011 12:43:56 PM

I do submit with the right margins justified, but perhaps I shouldn't. It's not difficult to change text from full- to left-justified in Word, though. Do editors have a preference?

Posted by: gulp | Feb 28, 2011 2:17:25 PM

same thing happened with me at missouri. i'm amazed how quickly they could digest my 28k word article. brilliant!

Posted by: anonprof | Feb 28, 2011 2:18:22 PM

I received quick dings from Baylor and Mizzou, too. They better be careful, or they'll start to get a reputation.

Posted by: South | Feb 28, 2011 2:26:56 PM

Baylor and Missouri apparently have the same level of super-talent. If only my students could process information so quickly!

Posted by: anonprof | Feb 28, 2011 3:01:17 PM

If only one journal could see so quickly that, in fact, a lot of people would want to read and cite my article!

Posted by: gulp | Feb 28, 2011 4:09:23 PM

Somewhat glad to find this thread--I, too, received quick rejects from Baylor and Missouri, within a day of their confirmation receipt.

Posted by: anon | Feb 28, 2011 4:12:35 PM

I'm curious how soon people normally receive decisions on expedited requests? Do those typically come within a few days or do they usually take the entire 1-2 weeks given?

Posted by: Anon | Feb 28, 2011 4:53:54 PM

this is my first time going through the expresso process (in the past, i have sent to a handful of speciality journals and gone with the first one to say yes). in the first 6 days, out of 70 journals, i got 7 rejections (penn, minnesota, duke, chicago, etc.) i'm curious whether that's about standard or not-- i know lots of profs get offers within the first week but i'm a practitioner. has anyone seen statistics on how many pieces submitted to lots of law reviews get zero offers, vs some (any!) offer? or is it too early for me to panic ;)

Posted by: wellcaffeinated | Mar 1, 2011 10:24:49 AM

Wellcaffininated, Expresso collected some information on this several years ago: http://law.bepress.com/expresso/2007/one.html. I'm not aware of anything more recent.

Posted by: gulp | Mar 1, 2011 10:48:46 AM

Sorry to mangle your name like that. Insufficient caffeination.

Posted by: gulp | Mar 1, 2011 10:53:50 AM

no worries. thanks for your response. 8% receiving no offers is a lot lower than i'd guessed, given all the stories about top journals receiving 3,000 submissions and publishing 12 or so.

Posted by: wellcaffeinated | Mar 1, 2011 11:15:12 AM

I think those figures cover all of the journals serviced by Expresso. I.e., the offers include offers from journals at fourth-tier schools. I suspect they are less informative than they look initially. My (unverified) theory is that Expresso really involves two markets: one market for the top journals, which is competitive and has an oversupply of submissions, and a largely separate market for journals at third- and fourth-tier schools (and many specialty journals), in which there is overall an undersupply of submissions. There are more potential offers per journal as you move down the top 100, but the real turning point is between second-tier (still lots of submissions to choose from in making offers) and third-tier schools' journals (often looking for submissions). For practitioners whose submissions have not been solicited by a journal, the competitive market might be even more competitive than it is for academics. I'd be interested to hear others' theories.

Posted by: gulp | Mar 1, 2011 11:40:47 AM

good point. to further complicate the issue in this case, my piece is a book review, and i haven't found many third or fourth tier journals that publish those (though i found a few).

Posted by: wellcaffeinated | Mar 1, 2011 12:13:29 PM

On the off-chance this is helpful for those going through the ExpressO process for the first time:
1. The first week or ten days is pure torture and nothing but rejections. Some of these rejections may be for reasons other than the quality of the piece (i.e., the board hasn't turned over and they're not letting submissions pile up). I've never been able to survive this period without a massive crisis of confidence, ranging from "my article is stupid and I'm an idiot" to "XYZ Law Review probably rejected me because of that typo in footnote 231. Why didn't I spend more time proofreading!"
2. There's no "merit pyramid"--you can get dinged by literally dozens of lower-ranked journals and still get an amazing offer.
3. Even after you accept your amazing offer (and tried to withdraw on ExpressO) the rejections will keep streaming in.

Hang in there--it's really hard the first few times.

Posted by: anon | Mar 1, 2011 12:34:54 PM

My theory isn't of a merit pyramid, but of a situation where supply and demand differ radically depending on which journal you're talking about. It seems undeniable that there is an oversupply of submissions for the top journals (an oversupply that gets greater as you move up the chain), but I don't believe the top journals' offer decisions are based on submissions' merit. The supply issue does mean it's more likely for an outsider to get an offer from a journal in the group that has an undersupply of submissions (or an undersupply of accepted offers).

Posted by: gulp | Mar 1, 2011 12:47:44 PM

very helpful comments-- much appreciated. do offers typically come by e-mail?

Posted by: wellcaffeinated | Mar 1, 2011 1:16:09 PM

Thanks anon, that is reassuring to hear and much appreciated.

Posted by: son of Redyip | Mar 1, 2011 1:30:24 PM

Sure thing. In my experience, offers are 90% email and 10% phone.

Posted by: anon | Mar 1, 2011 1:33:52 PM

Can anyone address how soon expedite offers might arrive after making an expedite request?

Posted by: Anon | Mar 1, 2011 5:00:57 PM

FWIW, I've received offers one day after making an expedite request and also literally on the day of the deadline. (As you might've heard, it's a good idea to tell journals that your deadline is 12 hours earlier that it really is when you make your expedite request).

Posted by: anon | Mar 1, 2011 6:26:57 PM

I'm curious...do most folks actually get offers out of expedites, or do they tend to get the one offer and ultimately accept there? Anyone care to shed some light on that?

Posted by: Anon | Mar 1, 2011 8:33:45 PM

Again, actual mileage may vary, but I've always gotten additional offers after shaking the expedite tree.

Posted by: anon | Mar 1, 2011 9:53:48 PM

For more data: I've only tried twice, but I've never gotten an offer out of an expedite.

Posted by: anon 2 | Mar 2, 2011 8:01:48 AM

This expedite business is very stressful. I cannot wait for this window to close.
Am I supposed to accept at the very last minute on my deadline? Or at some point do I just give up on the journals I haven't heard from?

Posted by: impatient | Mar 2, 2011 9:07:16 AM

Those with offers, would you be willing to tell us when you submitted and to how many journals?

Posted by: gulp | Mar 2, 2011 10:31:45 AM

Gulp -- 2 weeks ago, to 80 journals.

Posted by: impatient | Mar 2, 2011 10:48:04 AM

This thread is great. There is so little information out there that it is great to have this resource even if it is all anecdotal.

Impatient -- I think this can be the downside of submitting so early. Some journals that you expedited to are just getting up and running when your deadline comes up. Of course, maybe you got your offer because you got your article in early and an eager new board accepted it. It's impossible to know which is part of what is so maddening about this process. That's why, in my view, the disclaimer "your mileage may vary" applies to everything you hear and read about this process. Still, some anecdotal info is better than none.

I am a junior law prof and submitted last week. I too have gotten rejections from Missouri, Baylor and Minnesota. I can't wait to read the Nobel Prize winning scholarship that they do publish.

Posted by: yet another anon | Mar 2, 2011 10:57:51 AM

Baylor rejected me as well, and virtually immediately.

Posted by: impatient | Mar 2, 2011 11:03:12 AM

Thanks for the information. Best of luck with your expedite requests.

Posted by: gulp | Mar 2, 2011 11:23:26 AM

Again, actual mileage may vary, but I've always gotten additional offers after shaking the expedite tree.

Posted by: Mikey | Mar 2, 2011 11:49:27 AM

Anyone else gotten a very low number of automated emails from lawrevs confirming receipt of articles submitted via Expresso? I've gotten a literal handful--no more than 3-4. But in previous years, I've gotten 15-20 or so. It's not that important--these confirming emails are pro forma and don't indicate anything about the lawrevs' interest in the piece, but the difference is stark enough that it makes me wonder a bit about whether something's gone awry with the delivery process.

Posted by: Dave | Mar 2, 2011 11:54:22 AM

Mikey, how long did it take? A few rejected within a day or so, and the rest have been quiet.

Posted by: impatient | Mar 2, 2011 11:55:03 AM

I barely got any confirmation e-mails. As far as the confirmation link through ExpressO, a great many didn't click on that link until I expedited.

Posted by: impatient | Mar 2, 2011 11:57:52 AM

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