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Monday, January 26, 2015

Submission angsting: Spring 2015

The submission window is just about to open and we await Redyip's semi-annual return-- some journals already have announced they are accepting submissions. So let the angsting commence.

If you are an author or law review editor and want to share information about your submission experience to the law reviews, this is the place to do it. If you have questions about the process, this is the place to do it. Feel free to use the comments to share your information (and gripes or praise) about which journals you have heard from, which you have not, etc. Have at it. And do it reasonably nicely, pretty please.

Edit: To get to p.3 of comments, click here. To get to the end of comments, click here.

Posted by Howard Wasserman on January 26, 2015 at 09:31 AM in Howard Wasserman, Law Review Review, Teaching Law | Permalink


After reading "some journals already have announced they are accepting submissions," I could not help but dig a little to see if the cycle was starting a week early. Of the dozen or so top journals I surveyed, I didn't see any that had announced a new board. From this I wondered whether they may be accepting submissions, but not reading them yet (which seems pointless). Florida was explicit in this, announcing they were accepting but wouldn't review until later. I also noticed two different dates on when Florida would start accepting (Jan. 25th versus Feb. 1). Since this is the angsting thread, I offer that simply to ask whether you had any information or confidence that some journals had started working.

Posted by: anon | Jan 26, 2015 11:50:46 AM

As I mentioned in a post over at the Business Law Prof Blog, I would love thoughts on: (1) the ideal spring submission date (seems like a bit of a moving target from year to year) and (2) how to evaluate offers from specialty law reviews.

I am especially interested in the second point. How does one choose between, for example, Berkeley Business Law Journal (USNWR #9; W&L #135) v. University of Richmond Law Review (UNWR #51; W&L #108)?

"Ask your P&T committee" is the obvious answer, but I am interested in how schools outside of my own evaluate specialty journals.

Thanks in advance.

Posted by: Haskell Murray | Jan 26, 2015 2:49:39 PM

I just found this helpful post from 2011 on my second issue, but would still welcome additional comments.


Posted by: Haskell Murray | Jan 26, 2015 3:05:59 PM

Haskell, you might also be interested in this take on W&L, during the brief life of the Law Review Review in these pages: http://prawfsblawg.blogs.com/prawfsblawg/2011/07/law-review-rankings.html

Posted by: BDG | Jan 26, 2015 4:06:31 PM

Law is very prestige oriented. If you have an offer from a specialty from a top school - UPenn, Virginia, Georgetown, etc you take it hands down over a specialty from a journal affiliated with a school say #100. Its the power of "power" and "prestige." Why will the good looking babe want to bang the bad boy over the nice guy - same.

Posted by: evaluating specialty | Jan 27, 2015 2:26:04 AM

University of Chicago and Wisconsin have sent out rejections.

Posted by: Anonymous | Jan 27, 2015 9:58:10 AM

Haskell, at some level of prestige (maybe the top 7 law schools, definitely including Berkeley) you cannot lose. So I'd take Berkeley specialty over Richmond's main review. Anyone on the editorial board of a Berkeley journal is very smart. Those student editors are much more likely to be our (faculty) future peers than the (also very smart) student editors at Richmond law review. So to the limited extent that student editors count as a screening device for quality of scholarship, I put more weight on the approval of students from an elite school.

Posted by: jughead | Jan 28, 2015 9:51:44 AM

In reading the various posts over the years on the annual campaign to publish articles, I have seen that the focus is invariably on law professsors and their submissions. Rarely if ever is there any mention of the practitioners who submit papers and how they can maximize their opportunities.

If you are a regular reader of law journals, it becomes clear that for the journals occupying the slots from 1-100 on the W&L rankings, the contributors are all, or nearly all, law school professors. In the lower tiers, there is a greater concentraction of practitioners and non-law school professors. In fact, for journals below Number 200, it is rare that one even sees a law professor's contribution.

Those facts indicate to me that the selection process perhaps inappropriately takes into excessive consideration the quality of the letterhead. Also, if you compare in general the focus of practitioner articles, they are more doctrinally oriented and appeal to the needs of the bench and bar as they confront knotty problems.

What sugggestions do the readers of this blog have for practieroners who seek to publish with the law journals?

Posted by: Non-prof | Jan 28, 2015 10:16:05 AM

There are plenty of non academics who publish in T100 journals so your underlying claim is in error. As to maximizing opportunities - what do you seek - clients? Clients dont care so much about T20 or T50 unless you are trying to impress their in house counsel who attended a top school.
As to the Q above for sure you take a specialty like a business or intl from a T20 over a mainline T50-T100.
UPenn Business over Carbozo main line - hands down.
Virginia Business over Hofstra main line - hands down.

Posted by: 2 non prof | Jan 28, 2015 11:21:56 AM

Non-prof --

I published two pieces as a practitioner a few years ago. Both were in the top 75, and one was closer to 1 than 75. For the latter, I got multiple offers from top 100 schools.

Posted by: My $0.02 | Jan 28, 2015 12:05:09 PM

Baylor ding, submitted 1/26, rejected 1/28.

Posted by: jughead | Jan 28, 2015 6:47:30 PM

If a journal is "dinging", does that mean it is definitely open for business under a new board? Anyone have insight into whether the "old board" would be dinging pieces this close to the spring window prior to a new board coming in?

Posted by: anon | Jan 29, 2015 11:06:10 AM

i'm working towards submitting my paper in late feburary, maybe even early march. am i screwed? i didn't realize people were even submitting this early? i was triggered to come here from an email from expresso saying the season is upon us. is the season even upon us? I'm particularly worried about timing as i am on a fellowship, so i really want/need to place well and make use of the letterhead I've got.

Posted by: anonfellow | Jan 29, 2015 11:23:43 AM

You're fine. Last week of February is right in the sweet spot.

Posted by: My $0.02 | Jan 29, 2015 11:25:12 AM

Thanks, $0.02. Found your other comment re placement really helpful and encouraging, too.

Posted by: anonfellow | Jan 29, 2015 11:31:38 AM

I've written a piece. It's finished, but I'm not crazy about it. It's a comparative law paper. After I finish up my primary article of the season, I'm thinking about tuning this other article and sending it out, expecting placement in a secondary int'l journal, or maybe an online journal (it's not very long). As a young, untenured scholar hoping to go on the market in a few years, is it worth the while to try to get this published? Or will it actually hurt my CV to have such a publication on there?

Posted by: anon | Jan 29, 2015 4:54:23 PM

Hi everyone,
If anyone has thoughts on the following, I'd be very happy to hear.
I've written an article that has approximately 30k words in the main text and approximately 3k words in footnotes. (My understanding is that editors look more favorably upon pieces where the ratio between the two numbers is much closer to 1 to 1 than is the case with mine.) There seems to be somewhat (but not vastly) greater amounts of footnote text earlier in my piece than later in my piece.
Question 1: Should I submit my article as a pdf or as a word doc? My understanding is that editors like word docs so that they can do word counts to inspect the ratio of the word counts. I don't want to be rejected or given less consideration because I submit a pdf. However, my thought is that perhaps my ratio is so bad that it would be better to mask the word count ratio--especially since there are slightly more footnotes towards the beginning. Which format should I use?
Question 2 (less important to me than the first question): How much of a disadvantage am I at with the word count ratio I list above? Is this almost a deal-breaker?
Thanks in advance for any thoughts you have.

Posted by: Bill | Jan 29, 2015 5:38:56 PM

Anon 4:54 - quality over quantity. You don't need more than one or two good papers to go on the market. If you're not crazy about your piece, no one else will be either.

Bill - your 30k words in the body is almost certainly too long. Seriously, try to cut 5,000 to 10,000 words. Or maybe make it into two articles. And you're right that your ratio is way off. 2:1 is probably typical. Don't try to hide the problem by submitting a Pdf. It won't work. Much better to fix the problem by cutting the body and beefing up the footnotes.

Posted by: jughead | Jan 29, 2015 6:48:54 PM

UChicago accepts submissions year-round. We even read submissions year-round.

Posted by: Matthew Kugler | Jan 29, 2015 8:36:04 PM

Hi everyone,
I wonder if anyone has intuition (or better yet, knowledge) as to whether the 25,000 word limit employed by various law reviewes is actually adhered to in practice. My current piece is around 28,000 words, and I wonder if I should take efforts to cut it down now prior to submission. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks :-)

Posted by: OTS | Jan 30, 2015 11:21:33 AM

OTS--the answer is no. My last two articles were 35,000 words and were accepted by a number of journals in the top 30. If you scan the last few editions of the top 10 journals you'll find many examples of articles over 40,000 words. That said, maybe a few article screeners out there are making easy rejection decisions by looking at word counts, and so if you can cut it down without diluting the strength of your argument you might do that.

Posted by: We_Cannot_Accept | Jan 31, 2015 3:21:25 PM

We_Cannot_Accept - Thank you so much!

Posted by: OTS | Jan 31, 2015 5:43:32 PM

I think the word count issue may also be greatly affected by one's publication history and letterhead. A well-established prof with several top 10 general law review placements can likely more safely exceed the word counts than can a junior prof without an extensive publication history. Just my impression...

Posted by: Anonymoose | Feb 1, 2015 10:34:40 AM

A few things:

1. I can't believe this thread is already going this year. Wow.

2. Drop at the end of February or the beginning of March. Every year people mine the universe for evidence that the "cycle is a little earlier this year." The answer's always no. Yes, some journals move earlier, but some also move later. It's just as bad (or worse) to go too early than to go too late.

3. Disagree with the person upthread re: ratio of text to notes. Maybe law review editors are looking for long footnotes, but that's generally just as a substitute screen for credibility that an author can establish in other ways. Given the (very positive) development of word-limit caps, you have to focus on summarizing less and saying more that's new. I suspect and operate under the assumption, but cannot prove, that a suppressed footnote ratio will actually hurt authors significantly if a journal solicits faculty input. Journals from higher ranked schools are more likely to solicit such input. Footnotes are like anything else in your writing, in that you should do it well and efficiently in light of your purpose - to give credit where it's due, to establish your fluency with the literature, and to allow others to audit the audit-worthy propositions. Adding sources to artificially reach a ratio might help you some places, but will hurt you in others.

4. You are always allowed to make an article as long as you want, but I think it's safe to say that the incremental damage to your chances is greatest when you cross the 25K line.

Posted by: kovarsky | Feb 1, 2015 3:26:16 PM

Agree with Kvoarsky.

Think about WHY the cycle traditionally begins in earnest at the end of February/early March. It begins then because that is when the bulk of law reviews/journals have their Executive Boards turn over. If you submit before the board turns over, the outgoing board could read your article and could accept it. But if they do, they bind the incoming board. While they may do this here and there, the incoming board might fairly be upset if they don't get to pick any articles that they are going to live with for the next year.

By contrast, if you submit well after most boards have turned over, you'll miss any sort of early mover advantage you could have by being among the first to submit.

Whether you submit too early or too late, one issue you'll face is difficulty expediting. If you get an acceptance from the first journal reading articles and no one else has begun, how can you expedite? If too late and journals are full, they won't have room to accept you, even if they wanted to.

Levit and Rostron put out a yearly update on (nearly) every single main line law review and their preferences for submissions. You can piggyback on their effort. Or you can think about your own institution. When does your law review's eBoard turn over? Or you can just submit on March 1 (plus or minus a week or three) and hope for the best. http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1019029

Posted by: Matthew Bruckner | Feb 2, 2015 9:34:36 AM

I have been an avid reader of this thread for years, so I feel like it's now my duty to contribute something. I am using my real name because I think it gives more credibility to my comments, and you can all assess for yourselves whether my CV is sufficiently impressive for you to care what I have to say.

The major pathology with this thread (and I say this affectionately) is that everyone comes here seeking information, and no one has any, aside from their own very limited and usually highly idiosyncratic experience. As a result, there is a great urge to extrapolate general principles from a few anecdotes, and to engage in wild speculation. To be specific, and to echo (Lee?) Kovarsky, there is absolutely no evidence -- apart from the aforementioned anecdote about that one time when I submitted on X date and Y law review made me an offer -- that submitting early, late or on your Aunt Matilda's birthday makes any difference in terms of your odds of getting an article accepted for publication.

The same idea goes for word counts and footnote ratios. Obviously we can speculate that journals dislike long articles because the longer your article, the more space the journal has to find for you, which means less space for other authors. On the other hand, length makes a piece seem more substantial. That may sound superficial, but so is life. The bottom line again is: nobody knows anything. Journals say they want shorter pieces, but look at what they do, not what they say, and you'll see that many publish extremely long articles.

I advise everyone just to do what you are comfortable with, and be very skeptical of anyone who claims to know any hard and fast rules. This thread should be seen as a collection of anecdotes that may help guide your decision, but should not dictate it. You don't want to be kicking yourself that you could have gotten a better placement if only you had followed your instincts instead of listening to "Dingmaster 3000."

One thing you can take to the bank: your piece will be read by someone who is very busy and who has a huge pile of other high quality articles to read. I cannot overstate the importance of having a title, introduction, cover letter and abstract that can hook a relatively casual reader within the first few minutes. If you write about constitutional law, that may be easy. If you write about land use, like me, this takes a lot of effort, but if you love your work (and if you're writing 30,000 words about it, you do) make sure that your passion shows through from the first sentence.

Posted by: Ken Stahl | Feb 2, 2015 6:22:51 PM


Your comment is encouraging, if mostly because I recently submitted my article "between windows"--the follies of the ignorant--and have since stumbled upon threads like this, which have made me wonder whether I've screwed myself before even getting started. I'm not an academic--I'm a practitioner--and my piece is about a practitioner-focused issue. I did some submissions in October and some submissions last week, and it's not an exaggeration to say that I've heard back from almost nobody. But I haven't been explicitly rejected either; I'm in limbo. So eh. Perhaps things will start to happen as the end of February approaches.

Posted by: Jasper Emiliano Jr. | Feb 3, 2015 9:56:33 AM

rejections chicago and cornell

Posted by: anon | Feb 3, 2015 11:25:28 PM

As far as I can tell Cornell has yet to open its ExpressO submission window. How were you able to submit to Cornell?

Posted by: Anonymous | Feb 4, 2015 8:53:22 AM

sorry should clarify it was the online journal, have a short essay piece

Posted by: anon | Feb 4, 2015 12:30:57 PM

Thanks for the correction.

Posted by: Anonymous | Feb 4, 2015 12:51:03 PM

BYU and Cornell online dings 2/4, submitted 1/26.

Posted by: jughead | Feb 4, 2015 7:43:32 PM

I liked Ken Stahl's comment upthread, but I am going to ask for information (or at least anecdotes) anyway. This is my first time submitting an empirical piece. It includes all the fun stuff - a new dataset, hypotheses, and a regression model, etc. I have the sneaking suspicion that outside of a few journals that specialize in this kind of work, that incorporating a statistical model might actually make it harder to find a publisher simply because most law students are going to be poorly positioned to evaluate it given that statistics is not a prerequisite for law school admission. Does anyone have any insight on this question? In particular, if there are any former law review board members who can shed light on how law reviews that are not empirically focused respond to empirical pieces, I would appreciate it.

Posted by: anon42 | Feb 5, 2015 10:57:44 AM

We accepted one empirical piece the year that I was an EIC. We liked the topic and the writing, so we solicited input from faculty members who did empirical work. Once they confirmed that the methodology was sound and the conclusions were well supported, we were happy to make an offer.

Posted by: Vapplicant | Feb 5, 2015 12:24:29 PM

lots of silence for me....

Posted by: anon | Feb 6, 2015 2:49:22 PM

By what date -- Feb 15, Feb 22, March 1, etc. -- have most T25 boards turned over? It matters for me because I'm resubmitting a piece from the fall that didn't place as well as I'd hoped, and I don't want to submit to the old boards. (I'm an associate professor at a T100 school with a solid publication record.)

Posted by: Resubmitter | Feb 6, 2015 8:18:11 PM

I have received rejections for Arizona State, Iowa and Florida.

Posted by: Anonymous | Feb 7, 2015 10:00:39 AM

When did you submit, Anonymous?
Rejection from Wisconsin. Submitted first days of Feb.

Posted by: anon | Feb 7, 2015 10:05:17 AM

2/1 for Iowa, 1/16 for Arizona State, 1/25 for Florida

Posted by: Anonymous | Feb 7, 2015 11:04:58 AM

Any offers?

Posted by: jughead | Feb 7, 2015 2:03:29 PM

Resubmitter, the date by which a majority of T25 boards have turned over is a moving target every year. I know of one T10 board that turned over essentially Feb 1 and plans to have completed its winter round of article slotting by the end of Feb. Others haven't turned over yet and may only be getting into business around the time the aforementioned journal is calling it quits. My very casually informed sense is that at least ten of the T25 are warming up right now, but that could over or understate things by wide orders of magnitude.

One strategic issue that has played out on this board from time to time is whether there is any such thing as submitting too early--that is to say, submitting too early within the relevant window (with an earliest possible beginning in late January). I've heard two arguments that it is, and I'm skeptical that either has much force.

One argument is that a board might not have turned over yet, so the old board would be reviewing your submission. If, as in your case, you're resubmitting, that could be an issue. But I think that's not generally a problem. At the T25 journals with which I'm most familiar, the outgoing board simply stops looking at submissions after the fall cycle. Why would they bother looking at submissions in January after they've already filled their volume and there's a new board about to come on?

The other argument is that new boards are more likely to reject early in the review period. As the review period wears on, the argument goes, they start realizing that they're not going to find the perfect article and so standards go down a bit. There could be something to this, but I wouldn't put much weight into it. First, the order in which articles are submitted often doesn't dictate the order in which they're reviewed. Many articles editors just fish around in the stack until they find something that interests them. Your ERISA piece whose title bored the hell out of them in early Feb may become more interesting in March. Second, the actual time progression effect may be just the opposite. If your article is reviewed early, when there are still many slots available, accepting it has less direct preclusive effect on accepting other articles. When the board's already slated eight articles and there are only two more slots, the competition becomes more intense. A couple of times when my article's not been taken late in the cycle I've been told that there was strong support for it on the board but another article edged it out for the last spot. Anecdotal, yes, but enough to move me. Third, even though submission order doesn't necessarily dictate order of review, an article submitted after all the slots are full guarantees it won't be accepted.

So my strategy has always been to submit at the early edge of the cycle. It's usually worked well for me.

Posted by: AnonyMouse | Feb 7, 2015 2:42:31 PM

If I'm resubmitting a piece that I submitted too late in the Spring cycle, would you recommend changing the title? Or does it not make a difference if a new board is reviewing the piece?

Posted by: anon | Feb 8, 2015 2:05:42 PM

What's the proper protocol when you submitted in an earlier cycle and you received radio silence? As I'm a poor-ish public-interest practitioner, I went the email route in early October, and heard basically nothing back from most journals. Does that mean it's still pending or that it was pocket vetoed?

Posted by: Jasper Emiliano, Jr. | Feb 8, 2015 2:51:36 PM

Submitted 2/2. Rejected BYU (print) 2/6.

Posted by: anon | Feb 8, 2015 5:08:25 PM

Jasper, radio silence is increasingly the norm for many journals. The meaning of it is inscrutable, but it's unlikely that your paper is still pending from a previous cycle. My policy is that if a journal doesn't bother to reject my piece in one cycle, I feel fine about resubmitting to said journal in another cycle.

Posted by: jughead | Feb 8, 2015 5:52:34 PM

Law review editors out there - any info on when you will start looking at pieces? New law profs that were recently on journals - when did you start to review articles? Are we up and running yet? Anyone with an offer, board review or any indication of interest at a T-50 journal?

Posted by: Anonymous | Feb 8, 2015 7:42:12 PM

Anonymous why would anyone divulge that - you are asking for "help" from your competitors? Get real.

Posted by: get real | Feb 9, 2015 11:02:49 AM

anyone get any offers/rejections....? by this date last year i had plenty of rejections and an offer, just wondering if its my paper or the law reviews...

Posted by: anon | Feb 10, 2015 9:53:24 AM

Anonymous -- new law prof here. The turnover is, I think, basically starting right now and will continue for the next couple of weeks.

Posted by: anon | Feb 10, 2015 10:32:07 AM

get real: I have been following this thread for years and have always thought of it as collegial, rather than competitive. I normally don't say much about offers for fear that it would make those without offers unnecessarily anxious or that it would sound like gloating rather than help. Moreover, even after I accept an offer, I continue to read this thread for weeks so that I can learn more about the process, share information with my colleagues at my home school, and answer comment questions here when appropriate. In the interest of collegiality, I can confirm that, at least, two top 50 journals have made offers and two more will be doing so within the next few days.

Posted by: anon | Feb 10, 2015 10:39:59 AM

I know that for purposes of word counts, footnotes are included. What about appendices? If I have a piece that is well under 25K in the main body of the article (including footnotes) but slightly (meaning a couple hundred words) above 30K when including appendices, I assume I should still use the 30K figure as my word count. Any idea on how law reviews treat it? I can sort of see it going either way. On the one hand, the purpose of brevity and easier to read and digest articles seems to still be served despite a lengthy appendix. On the other, appendices=pages. I suppose one answer is the 30K limitation is meaningless and not followed. But as a very new scholar trying to get one's article published, it seems worthwhile trying to have as few reasons for an editor to quickly ding me without looking much at the article.

Posted by: Anonymous | Feb 10, 2015 10:51:26 AM

I recently received an offer from a T2 specialty which is well regarded. I was given 3 days to accept the offer- can I negotiate for more time, or would that be bad form?

Posted by: Firsttimeanon | Feb 10, 2015 1:00:58 PM

Firsttimeanon, negotiating for more time is not in bad form, it's very common -- they may not agree, but they shouldn't be surprised if you ask. Anonymous @ 10:51, I might consider breaking out the word count for the article and the appendix in the cover letter. (E.g., "The word count for the article text and footnotes is 24,000 words. The appendix attached to the article is 6,100 words."). That way you're not being dishonest but also have the shorter word count front and center. I also think there is no paper where 100 words can't be cut, and that it is worth getting the overall word count under 30K, with the appendix.

Posted by: anona | Feb 10, 2015 2:07:31 PM

FTA - nope - it's the norm, not bad form!

Posted by: guest | Feb 10, 2015 2:28:21 PM

I'm a VAP and submitted this past monday 2/10. I submitted to roughly the t80, as well as t6 generalist specialties.

I already have a rejection from BYU. At what point should I start broadening the scope of my submissions? I don't imagine that it's necessarily anytime soon, just looking for thoughts?

Posted by: anonvap | Feb 10, 2015 3:48:18 PM

Notre Dame ding. Submitted yesterday.

Posted by: Anon | Feb 10, 2015 6:01:25 PM

Vanderbilt ding, submitted yesterday. Stanford ding, submitted a week ago.

Posted by: Anonymous | Feb 10, 2015 7:04:45 PM

Notre Dame and Stanford dings. Submitted to ND yesterday. I gave Stanford an exclusive from end of January until yesterday.

Posted by: anon | Feb 10, 2015 7:29:50 PM

I agree with much of what Ken Stahl had to say (above), but would note that there is some actual data out there about what law review editors want. Thankfully, there are a few law profs out there who have collected this information for you and put it on SSRN. Although I provided it above, here it is again: http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1019029

Posted by: Matthew Bruckner | Feb 10, 2015 9:13:55 PM

Columbia Law Review (submitted 1/28, rejected 2/10), Iowa (submitted 2/2, rejected 2/8), BYU (submitted 2/2, rejected 2/10)

Posted by: anon | Feb 11, 2015 8:04:39 AM

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