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Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Prawfs to Law Review Editors: No group email rejections please!

A loyal prawf reader from Ohio writes:

Thought this might be right up “Prawfsblawg”’s alley.  On the topic of “inappropriate behavior by law review editors,” I received my first “group rejection form email” today.  Obviously, we all know the law reviews send out form rejection letters.  What made this one particularly surprising (and unprofessional?) is that they included the names of all of the other rejectees in the “to” line of the email. ....  Here’s the email [PrawfsBlawg redacted identifying info--no need for personalized shaming!]:

From: redacted

To: redacted

The editorial board of Volume 80 of [redacted] has recently completed its review of submissions for our Fall and Winter books.  Regrettably, difficult decisions often must be made with respect to the many prodigious pieces that we consider for publication in our journal.  Unfortunately, we are unable at present to extend an offer of publication for your work in our Law Review.  I speak for all of my colleagues when I express my sincere gratitude for your consideration of our journal, and my esteemed hope that you will consider publishing with us in the future

Posted by Administrators on October 19, 2005 at 09:14 AM in Life of Law Schools | Permalink


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» I call bullshit from Letters of Marque
Over at Prawfsblawg, Dan Markel posts about group e-mail rejections sent to professors to announce a volume closure. I admit that we were lucky enough to learn from our predecessors; over the summer, they sent a group e-mail to everyone... [Read More]

Tracked on Oct 19, 2005 7:04:28 PM


I received an elaborate rejection email from a journal that suggested that my piece was excellent, though the journal could not publish it. This raised my spirits until I realized that I received an identical email from the journal's prior Editor-in-Chief on a different piece that was rejected last year. (Yes, most of my pathetic academic life involves rejection.) I would prefer a rejection that is clear and to the point (without being rude), rather than one that implies that they really liked the piece if that was not the case. The same goes for telling me that they are full when months later a friend gets an acceptance. If I was rejected on the merits, just let me know. Will I weep openly? Sure. But at least I will know that I am a failure, not merely unlucky.

Posted by: newslover | Oct 20, 2005 1:58:05 PM

Can I mention another pet peeve? Law journals (you know who you are) that solicit symposium article proposals from professors, then, upon receipt of a proposal, write back to the author requesting further clarification of a dozen things on the grounds that they are very interested but would like more info in order to decide whther to publish.... So then you spend three days answering their queries.... and then they never, ever, write back. I would be happy to get a group form rejection letter! Just something, please. If a journal requests something from a professor, who works hard to comply, and then the journal decides nonetheless not to accept a proposal, shouldn't that merit at least a polite "thank you for your proposal, but we decided against it" letter?!

Posted by: lawprofessor | Oct 20, 2005 1:06:30 PM

NYU L.Rev. publishes six issues per year, Notre Dame L.Rev. publishes five issues per year; both designate their issues by month, not season. A simple Lexis search in the law reviews database ["winter, 2005" and cite (79) and date geq (10/19/2004)] readily reveals the culprit.

Posted by: Another anon | Oct 19, 2005 9:03:21 PM

Law reviews should be able to send out form rejection letters because authors send out form withdrawl letters.

Posted by: anon | Oct 19, 2005 4:34:09 PM

"Esteemed" is a problem. What about "prodigious?"

Posted by: anon | Oct 19, 2005 4:05:13 PM

That rejection letter seems to me very badly written. (E.g., "[m]y esteemed hope"? I don't think that "esteemed" means what that editor thinks it means.) Perhaps it is a blessing to be rejected there? Imagine the "corrections"!

In any event, I would urge naming the journal. It is relevant for those who prize discretion and might soon be circulating an article. Shaming would not be the purpose, but only incidental. (It is like informing one's friends that a plumber did a lousy job; or like Prof. Leiter's comments threads on the terrible lead-times in philosophical journals. Information, not punishment.)

Posted by: Pragmatist | Oct 19, 2005 2:43:23 PM

Though they were all in the "To" field, and not cc, Matt's right. It's more just funny and silly than vicious. I don't think the reader who sent in the email was all that outraged. Let me just add that there are other journals in Volume 80 also...but let's call off the search.

Posted by: Dan Markel | Oct 19, 2005 11:25:52 AM

This might be a typical email mistake- not distinguishing 'cc' from 'bcc', for example. It's sort of like not distinguishing 'reply' from 'reply all'. Both are easy to make, sometimes pretty emberassing, but not viscious most of the time.

Posted by: Matt | Oct 19, 2005 11:15:47 AM

On the topic of "inapropriate behaviour by law professors:" what do you expect when you send submissions to 100 + journals, thus ensuring that top journals are inundated by submissions? Factor in the fact that the editors are students, not full-time editors, and just accept the fact that your piece will be published in a lesser journal. Or perhaps start a peer-reviewed journal instead of moaning about how student editors, who do all the work for you, are not as "professional" as you would like.
Having been a student law review editor and having published in non-legal peer-reviewed journals, I think it would be highly amusing to see law profs deal with the snail pace of non-student edited journals, let alone have them do the editing themselves.

Posted by: Anon | Oct 19, 2005 11:04:34 AM

I'm all for public shaming. Two law reviews appear to be on volume 80 -- Notre Dame and NYU.

Posted by: Anon | Oct 19, 2005 10:38:17 AM

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