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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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I have another week on my expedite request but the last few days have been remarkably quiet.

Posted by: anonanonanon | Mar 25, 2011 3:56:18 PM

Yep, it's quiet here too. I received an offer off of expedite last night, which extended my deadline until early next week, but the silence from the 30 or so journals that I am waiting on is deafening. Strangely, a few of those appear to have been pretty active this week.

Posted by: multid | Mar 25, 2011 4:05:41 PM

Just received a rejection from BC; also, one from Vanderbilt yesterday. My deadline has also been extended to mid next week, but after 5 weeks in the game, I think I'm prepared to bow out.

Posted by: anon2 | Mar 25, 2011 4:19:02 PM

I'm of the same mind. This time around has been far more exhausting that previous cycles.

Posted by: multid | Mar 25, 2011 4:48:47 PM

For those of use without a good (or any) placement, what is the general consensus on when to pack it in? And am I right that that would generally entail withdrawing from any journals from which no response has been received in anticipation of resubmitting an at-least-slightly altered version in the fall? Put another way, when is it best to expect this misery to end?

Posted by: consolation | Mar 26, 2011 11:20:52 AM

Why would you withdraw? I've heard of offers trickling in very, very late and some places have not even really begun their process. I might just make plans to continue working on the piece with the goal of resubmitting but leave things alone.

Posted by: anon | Mar 26, 2011 1:35:05 PM

I suppose my thought on withdrawing is not wanting to resubmit in the fall to a journal who still, at least potentially, is considering an earlier version of the same piece. But, hey, I asked because I wasn't sure, so I appreciate your thoughts

Posted by: consolation | Mar 26, 2011 2:00:56 PM

Ah, I see. I think if you're going to resubmit (which I may do for the first time myself) you have to at least change your title, introduction, and conclusion. The general wisdom seems to be that it should not be immediately identifiable as the same piece. I'm planning to make larger-scale changes as well. I guess you could withdraw from places, but I would seriously wait until May or June. I haven't had it happen in the spring cycle but I've gotten a publication offer in November from a September submission...

Posted by: anon | Mar 26, 2011 2:31:18 PM

In the past 4 days, I've received responses to expedite requests from Colorado, Ohio State, Hastings, Houston, Fordham, and the Journal of the Copyright Soc'y of the USA, stating they will review before the expedite deadline [or at least try]. They're not done looking. Don't stop believing.

Posted by: Journey | Mar 26, 2011 4:25:35 PM

With respect to withdrawals of pieces that get no offers, I think my plan in the future is going to be to withdraw, if necessary, about a month before resubmitting the revised, retitled version. Any thoughts on that approach (or ideas about a better one)?

Fordham acknowledged an expedite request from me this morning and then sent a rejection within a few more minutes, so if you just received the acknowledgment, no rejection, they must be considering your submission more seriously.

Posted by: gulp | Mar 26, 2011 5:40:29 PM

Any more word from BU? I got no response from an expedite request that has now expired. I saw they had rejected people earlier this week...

Posted by: anon | Mar 26, 2011 5:53:00 PM

To all those without an offer yet, don't lose hope. I submitted over 3 weeks ago and got an offer yesterday. Expedite request confirmations are rolling in from journals including Fordham, Colorado, BC, and NYU. I also received rejections from Akron and Seton Hall.

Best of luck to everyone.

Posted by: anonimation | Mar 26, 2011 6:26:56 PM

Well, it's over for me. I accepted an offer from a solid specialty journal. I had higher hopes but am glad the article found a home. Good luck to all of you still in the process!

Posted by: optimist | Mar 26, 2011 6:33:02 PM

(1) This whole conversation is really sad. The amount of energy that law professors are spending worrying about whether they place in a student-edited journal ranked #17 or #27 makes no sense. It's just a degrading pissing contest with no prize. It has a minimal impact on lateral hiring (#3), and beyond that it's just vanity.

(2) Take a look at who publishes in top law reviews. Harvard and Chicago are virtually house presses. Half of their articles in recent years are from their own faculty (actually a subset), and they simply don't publish anyone who is not at a US News Top 20 school. This wasn't always the case--people from no-name schools used to be able to write their way into Harvard Law Review, but that ain't happening now. So don't waste your time getting your hopes up and don't think for a second that this is a meritocracy.

(3) I'm really not sure that article placement counts for very much. All else being equal, yes, a Yale Law Journal placement is better than say UC Davis (which has the most obnoxious form rejection letter) or Baylor or Ave Maria, but a YLJ placement alone isn't going to land you a job in a better school.

From my own experience doing lateral hiring at a top tier school, we rely on our own evaluation of the scholarship (we actually read it), not a bunch of 2Ls'. (To the extent that placement matters, it is simply to see that the candidate knows how the write a placeable article, and the main distinction is top 20-30 or so, leading speciality journals, and everything else. Don't worry about Missouri vs. Kentucky or the like. It really doesn't matter.)

The main thing is getting lateral committees to be aware of you. That's reputational as much as anything--and that's really getting other people in your area or related areas to be aware of you. Indeed, that YLJ placement isn't likely to get you noticed as no one reads print journals any more. The only thing anyone reads are SSRN abstracts--and the abstract should tell you enough to know if it's worth reading the whole article.

Posted by: Been There Done That | Mar 27, 2011 5:31:51 PM

well, i know for a fact that placement matters at my school for P&T. maybe not the difference between 17 and 27 but it does matter. i suppose the process is different everywhere.

Posted by: anon | Mar 27, 2011 6:14:11 PM

So, BTDT, can I summarize your helpful comments as follows: Stop worrying, placement doesn't matter (Missouri v. Kentucky), except when it does (top-20 to 30 v. top specialty journals v. everywhere else)? That's a load off my mind, then.

Posted by: consolation | Mar 27, 2011 6:42:42 PM

A number of schools offer substantial cash awards for placement with T25 or so journals. And at some schools, an article counts for tenure purposes only if it is published in a journal ranked higher than the home school's. Sad but true.

I agree, though, that SSRN is a far better way to advertise your article than a paper journal.

Posted by: placement | Mar 27, 2011 8:11:09 PM

Been There Done That - informative post. Even though I am just a 2nd year prof, I understand and agree with much of what you say. One question that remains is why would a top tier school (like yours) place value in whether one can write a "placeable article", if what you are truly evaluating is quality. Is the answer simply that top-placed articles gain the attention of lateral committees, or is there something more to it. Curious minds want to know.

Posted by: 2nd year prof | Mar 27, 2011 10:39:58 PM

This is in response to Been There Done That:

As to point 1, I agree. It's nonsensical that we as professors have to spend some much time worrying about placement, just as its nonsensical that we spend so much time worrying about US News rankings. But the fact that placement and rankings may have very little normative value beyond the extreme margins (e.g., a Yale Law Journal placement v. a bottom of the fourth tier placement is probably some gross indicator of quality) doesn't mean that we can completely ignore them.

As to point 2, agreed.

As to point 3, however, I disagree. Having taught now for 10 years at two different law schools (both near the top of the second tier), I have found that article placement can matter very much. Placement mattered to the tenure and promotion committees that evaluated me pre-tenure; it mattered to the T&P committees I've served on post-tenure; it matters to the central university in evaluating our candidates for promotion; and it has mattered to the hiring committees I've served on.

I am not saying that I think it should matter; I'm just saying that it often does).


(1) This whole conversation is really sad. The amount of energy that law professors are spending worrying about whether they place in a student-edited journal ranked #17 or #27 makes no sense. It's just a degrading pissing contest with no prize. It has a minimal impact on lateral hiring (#3), and beyond that it's just vanity.

(2) Take a look at who publishes in top law reviews. Harvard and Chicago are virtually house presses. Half of their articles in recent years are from their own faculty (actually a subset), and they simply don't publish anyone who is not at a US News Top 20 school. This wasn't always the case--people from no-name schools used to be able to write their way into Harvard Law Review, but that ain't happening now. So don't waste your time getting your hopes up and don't think for a second that this is a meritocracy.

(3) I'm really not sure that article placement counts for very much. All else being equal, yes, a Yale Law Journal placement is better than say UC Davis (which has the most obnoxious form rejection letter) or Baylor or Ave Maria, but a YLJ placement alone isn't going to land you a job in a better school.

From my own experience doing lateral hiring at a top tier school, we rely on our own evaluation of the scholarship (we actually read it), not a bunch of 2Ls'. (To the extent that placement matters, it is simply to see that the candidate knows how the write a placeable article, and the main distinction is top 20-30 or so, leading speciality journals, and everything else. Don't worry about Missouri vs. Kentucky or the like. It really doesn't matter.)

The main thing is getting lateral committees to be aware of you. That's reputational as much as anything--and that's really getting other people in your area or related areas to be aware of you. Indeed, that YLJ placement isn't likely to get you noticed as no one reads print journals any more. The only thing anyone reads are SSRN abstracts--and the abstract should tell you enough to know if it's worth reading the whole article.

Posted by: 10 year Anon | Mar 28, 2011 10:33:52 AM

UC Davis does have a curt rejection notice, but their editors have been courteous with me in other correspondence (not involving an offer to publish). Given that most rejections are form emails, I'm not sure I really care whether the form email consists of three blunt sentences or a longer ego-soothing paragraph.

Posted by: gulp | Mar 28, 2011 12:41:37 PM

personally, i value brevity... mainly because i have trouble believing (1) they enjoyed my submission or (2) they are looking forward to my future work...

Posted by: anon | Mar 28, 2011 12:51:24 PM

gulp and anon--

On that issue, I most appreciate the law reviews that include a subject line making it clear that my article has been rejected. In fact, they could just omit the main text at that point.

Posted by: consolation | Mar 28, 2011 1:00:08 PM

Question. I am a little behind - I was hoping to submit my article by mid-March but pressures at my full-time job and delays in having profs get back to me have meant that I will now be ready to submit in the next few days. One professor told me that as long as I can get it in this week, I should submit it, otherwise I should hold off until the summer/fall cycle. I'd appreciate hearing what others think. Getting this piece accepted this cycle would really help with my plan to go on the market in the Fall - I have one other law review publication and a few other publications.

Posted by: anonymouse | Mar 28, 2011 2:40:36 PM

i think it's a longshot with this crowd, but has anyone heard from yale journal of law & the humanities? (the email confirming receipt had said to expect a decision mid-march.) thanks team!

Posted by: interdisciplinary anon | Mar 28, 2011 2:42:03 PM

I still am hearing radio silence from journals, some of which have been pretty active, insofar as the people posting here is concerned in terms of rejection/expedites. is it a no-no to send an email to particular journals and follow up and/or get an update?

Posted by: exhaustedanon | Mar 28, 2011 4:00:42 PM

In my understanding, it's not a no-no, but is most likely to have a positive effect if you have some further information to supply to the journals (e.g., new publication, presentation invitation, SSRN top ten list, etc.) or some social/professional tie to the editors you're contacting.

Posted by: gulp | Mar 28, 2011 4:04:38 PM

I didn't submit to the YJL&H this season, but in the past I've found them to be pretty communicative in response to requests for expedited review. So if I were in your shoes, with an email from them specifying a decision date, I'd feel justified in emailing them to inquire.

Posted by: gulp | Mar 28, 2011 4:20:16 PM

Some hopeful news here, I got an offer from a T25 journal just two days ago, which was over four full weeks since initial submission, and about one whole week after I'd more or less given up hope. The offer didn't even come pursuant to an expedite, so that's clearly not a necessary prerequisite. Also got news that the piece is in board review at two other T25 journals, which shows that--as others have suggested--the process is still very much going on despite the late date.

I hope others construe this as good news for all in two ways: first, stuff is happening late late late this year, so it would be premature for anyone to pack it in now; and second, I immediately withdrew the article elsewhere so now there is at least one fewer piece at all journals below the top 25 to distract articles eds there.

Posted by: Anonissimo | Mar 29, 2011 11:16:46 AM

Congratulations, Anonissimo!

Posted by: gulp | Mar 29, 2011 12:07:56 PM

Consistent with Anonissimo, I can confirm that it is not over. I also got notification of board review (without an expedite request) and can confirm that at least one top 20 school has barely begun reading.

Posted by: anon | Mar 29, 2011 12:59:30 PM

Congrats, Anonissimo -- and thanks for the immediate withdrawal elsewhere!

Posted by: consolation | Mar 29, 2011 3:21:13 PM

Also, has anyone here heard from the American Criminal Law Review or the American Journal of Criminal Law?

Posted by: consolation | Mar 29, 2011 3:46:34 PM

anonissimo - did you contact them for an update or did the offer come out of the blue? thanks and congratulations!

Posted by: hopefulanon | Mar 29, 2011 4:15:13 PM

interdisciplinary anon, the email I got a couple of days ago from the Yale Journal of Law & Humanities said they hope to provide a response mid-May & encouraged expedites.

Posted by: waiting | Mar 29, 2011 4:54:39 PM

Does anyone know whether Administrative Law Review and/or Yale Regulation have been sending out rejection emails? (I submitted a while ago, and I'm wondering whether to read anything positive into the silence.)

Posted by: anon | Mar 29, 2011 5:14:00 PM

anon 5:14- The positive is that you haven't been rejected! But seriously, I submitted to Admin and Yale Reg about two weeks ago and have not heard back. When did you submit?

Posted by: adminanon | Mar 29, 2011 5:41:56 PM

Adminanon, I submitted 4 weeks ago.

Posted by: fka anon 5:14 | Mar 29, 2011 5:52:04 PM

waiting-- mid-MAY? wow. thanks for the scoop!

Posted by: interdisciplinary anon | Mar 29, 2011 6:22:33 PM

I received an offer from the Administrative Law Review on an expedite a couple days ago, so I know they're still considering articles -- only silence from Yale Regulation.

Posted by: anon | Mar 30, 2011 7:31:18 AM

hopeful anon:

The T25 offer I got was literally out of the blue--I had an offer from a much lower-ranked journal, and had expedited to some but not all journals. I did not include the journal that made the offer in that expedite request, so basically it happened without my contacting them in any way, which should be a hopeful sign for others.

In my experience, politely contacting journals is a good way to stay on their radar screens, but only if there's some reason to do so (i.e., you have another offer, expedite, etc.).

Posted by: Anonissimo | Mar 30, 2011 11:42:28 AM

"literally out of the blue"?

Posted by: Anotheranon | Mar 30, 2011 4:54:09 PM

Anotheranon:

Yes, the offer actually came physically out of the bright blue sky, like a spiritual visitation.

Posted by: Anonissimo | Mar 30, 2011 8:16:04 PM

Ah, I see.

Posted by: Anotheranon | Mar 30, 2011 11:06:03 PM

Further proof that hope is not all lost. It has been well over a month since I submitted, and although I had received a few notifications of full board review, today I received my first actual offer (not from one of the journals that had notified of full board review). Hang in there all. I promptly withdrew from those journals I would not consider based on that offer. The process continues . . .

Posted by: anon | Mar 31, 2011 3:04:31 AM

Can anyone here give me a sense of how the Administrative Law Review compares to general student-edited law reviews? To be more precise, from which general law reviews is it worth requesting expedited review given an offer from the ALR?

Posted by: adminlawer | Mar 31, 2011 7:34:18 AM

adminlawer:
I'm not certain about this but I gather it is probably ranked around 100-115 - so 2d tier law review territory? I think it might get more visibility in the admin law world though, especially with practitioners/policy-makers, due to its ABA connection. But again, I'm not certain.

Posted by: anon | Mar 31, 2011 7:48:49 AM

There is something bitterly ironic about getting a rejection letter with typos in it (especially from a top-50 journal). I'm actually somewhat relieved that I didn't get an offer from them! This should serve as a reminder that we're submitting to students and certainly not to our equals so we shouldn't take rejections too personally.

Posted by: anon | Mar 31, 2011 10:14:57 AM

Sorry for the repeat, but has anyone heard from the Am. Crim. L. Rev. or Am. J. Crim. L.?

Posted by: consolation | Mar 31, 2011 11:04:47 AM

Any word from Texas?

Posted by: dt | Mar 31, 2011 11:17:00 AM

dt--

Earlier in the comments, a lot of folks said that they had already received rejections from Texas. I'm not sure if those were in response to expedites or not. Personally, I haven't heard anything.

Posted by: consolation | Mar 31, 2011 11:26:13 AM

nothing from texas (submitted 2/23)

Posted by: wellcaffeinated | Mar 31, 2011 11:29:19 AM

I was rejected by Texas 4 or 5 days after expediting.

Posted by: anon | Mar 31, 2011 11:37:50 AM

Re: the Admin Law Review. Your mileage may vary, but I think of many of these top specialty journals as being around "top-25" for many purposes. most people in the field will read the journal, and many of the top people in the field will publish in it. Look at the academics who have published in the ALR and look at their other placements. Pretty impressive, no? Some other top specialty journals are peer-reviewed, which also adds resume value.

But don't necessarily expect readers outside the field to find or value the placement as highly. E.g., it may not impress future LR editors as much as it should. But P&T and hiring committees should generally be aware of its significance.

Posted by: BDG | Mar 31, 2011 12:38:41 PM

For whatever it's worth, ALR was one of the handful of journals included in Leiter's 2002 study of faculty productivity:

http://www.leiterrankings.com/archives/2000archives_criteria.shtml

Posted by: ATC | Mar 31, 2011 1:47:27 PM

Has anyone on this thread heard from gender & law journals? Any information about the time frame during which they tend to extend offers?

Posted by: ABC | Apr 1, 2011 9:20:17 AM

For those of us still listening to the crickets — two questions:

How many offers are coming in over the telephone (e.g. should we bother checking our voice mail every time we leave for a meeting)?

How many journals do most people ever hear from and does it depend on how brilliant the article is? If you get 8 acceptances, do you find that you hear from 90% of the journals you submitted to? If you get 1 acceptance, do you hear from 10% of the journals?

Posted by: anon | Apr 1, 2011 10:45:57 AM

My experience is skewed toward second- and third-tier journals, but I've received five acceptances, all by e-mail. One e-mail acceptance was also accompanied by a phone call.

Explicit rejection rates seem to vary with the prestige of the journal. Higher ranked journals seem to be better about communicating rejections. I'd say I've received explicit rejections from about 50% of journals in the first tier and less than 25% of the journals below.

I can't speak to how article quality might affect this, but I suspect author prestige might, since accomplished authors are more likely to get a look.

Posted by: anon | Apr 1, 2011 11:22:31 AM

In response to anon at 10:45:57:

1. In my experience, phone offers are also accompanied by email offers (i.e. the journal will leave a voicemail and send a follow-up email usually within the same hour).

2. I submitted to about 130 journals, have received 7 offers from top- 100 journals, and have received rejections from about 50% of the journals I submitted to.

Posted by: dt | Apr 1, 2011 11:34:45 AM

dt- when did you submit? thanks.

Posted by: anon | Apr 1, 2011 2:14:09 PM

I submitted the third week of February.

Posted by: dt | Apr 1, 2011 3:14:30 PM

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