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Tuesday, January 29, 2008

"Selling" Symposia

While there is ample information available about the traditional law review submission process, I haven't been able to find any information on submitting symposium ideas to law reviews.  In the coming months, I will be in some very distinguished company on a couple of panels at the 2008 SEALS Meeting and, hopefully, at Lavender Law 2008.  I'll be sitting next to celebs like her, him, her, her, him, him, her, him, and her.  I feel lucky to be on this list of VIP's, and would like to thank them for including me (or accepting my invitation, as the case may be) on these panels.  I thought one way of demonstrating my appreciation would be to secure journal placement of the pieces they will present on these panels.  But how does one do this?  I suspect telemarketing is not the answer, but what is?

Posted by Liz Glazer on January 29, 2008 at 08:46 AM | Permalink


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You do not have to settle for an online companion. Just call and ask for the EiC or one of the articles editors (the AE who is hanging around the journal office at the time will be the one who cares the most).

Symposia are attractive if they are on a topic (i.e. civil rights) or include authors that are normally out of a reviews' league. No suprise that when my review had Posner, Sunstein, and Dean Koh in one volume they came prepackaged with a symposia.

Symposia are easiest to sell to the school where the associated conference was held, especially if there are faculty members participating. At all but the top schools, faculty tend to place higher than their in-house review but are often viewed as desirable authors who are easier to edit due to proximity.

When pitching, you should mention the lower editing burden of pieces that have already been shared with peers.

There is also a potential timing ploy, if the journal does one major submissions push, you want to hit them up midstream as exams begin to loom and panic is setting in about getting through 1500 submissions and filling the issues/volume. You may just solve a problem for them.

Generally, 250 page symposium submissions that come in with the spam from the online submissions services are among the first to get tossed. If I have a stack of 150 articles, and not enough time to read them, I get the most bang for my buck by finding an excuse in your cover letter not to wade through your massive tome. This is why telemarketing is likely your best option. it is harder to reject personalized pleas out of hand. Incidentally this applies to articles too... I never figured out why professors insist on spamming 200 journals with their article and then complain that the results seem random. Suprise! 200 editors just applied 135 different filters on your abstract and CV to shortcut and get through the overwhelming volume of duplicative submissions.

And one last tip, if you get an offer from a decent review, take it... please don't turn around and use that offer to pressure a journal 4 spots up the US News rankings to snatch the symposium/article. Would you rather have editors who are interested in the work or editors that are interested in lateral competition. Unless you realistically have a shot at a top ten review (and you don't for a symposium that is not a memorial for an ivy league professor that includes a piece by a SCOTUS judge) then your gain from ranking gaming is ilusory. And yet everyone seems to do it.

This might have drifted from advice to rant. :)

Posted by: Corey | Jan 31, 2008 6:03:37 AM

I also have not been able to find information about getting involved in symposia. I have written a bunch of articles with good placements, and would love to participate in academic conferences or symposia. How does one participate in such conferences? Is it strictly by invitation? If so, what are invitations based upon and can one market himself as a potential participant directly to the organizer?

Great post Liz!

Posted by: Aspiring Prof | Jan 29, 2008 6:17:15 PM

I would say call or e-mail the law reviews you're interested in and pitch the idea to them. I am the EIC-elect of a law review and we are splitting a pre-packaged symposium issue with another law review this coming summer. When we were approached with the offer, we instantly liked and accepted it. A pre-packaged symposium is interesting and doesn't require the exhaustive effort of putting together one's own symposium. If marketed properly, it is a very attractive offer.

Posted by: Alyssa (2L) | Jan 29, 2008 3:44:25 PM

One option is an online companion. Many of the top law reviews have online companions that are willing (indeed, anxious) to publish short symposium pieces. It's probably discounted even more than print symposium issues, but, as Dan says, if the ideas are good, they should be published and judged on their own merit.

Posted by: Scott Dodson | Jan 29, 2008 12:29:59 PM

Telemarketing may actually be the answer. I know one professor who's secured many of his best placements (in the top 10) by simply calling up the editors at the top law reviews and pitching pre-packaged symposia or "colloquia." It's a guerrilla placement strategy and maybe savvy people discount the resulting publications, but it's one that can still lead to great visibility and is nothing to be ashamed about if the symposium includes real contributions on topics of importance. The problem is that most people come to think that such contributions are rushed and/or rehashed earlier pieces and you have a collective action problem in which fewer people want to make investments of time into the symposium contributions because the pieces are deemed to be less significant that stand alone articles.

Posted by: Dan Markel | Jan 29, 2008 9:01:47 AM

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