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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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seconding south's story of randomness, here's my tale: submitted to maybe 120 journals in feb.; got about 40 rejections and silence from the rest. then my piece was accepted by a top 20 journal in JUNE. true story! i'm in shock.

Posted by: wellcaffeinated | Jun 16, 2011 2:23:22 PM

Y'all may not be monitoring this thread anymore. The submission season is beyond waning, but I wanted to share the conclusion of my journey here. My article this go-around was a departure from my usual fare. I wanted to dive into a new field in which I was not well read and examine the intersection of my area of expertise. I wondered if my article would sound amateur, and I certainly began to wonder if it were too long at 35,000 words. My R&T chair told me it was "weird" but certainly deep and provocative, with his blessing.

I submitted the thing to the world on Feb. 23, then to other sets of 5 to 10 journals four or five more times to no avail. I got some encouraging feedback, some prods of interest, very few rejections, but no action.

At the close of the semester, I took some advice and brutally shortened the paper by about 6000 words and notified a few more journals even after finals were winding down.

This week, I got an offer from a T3 main journal, and another T2 main and two T1 specialities are considering it.

Is there a window at all?

This has been a peculiar, painful and very valuable process. I have learned much and am glad for success at the end. Despite a tortuous, wending path, I am very pleased with the eventual destination and think the paper has found an appropriate, fruitful home.

Posted by: South | Jun 6, 2011 6:21:11 PM

My top 40 expedite did shake a couple of apples, but not from journals that are much, much higher. I'm still in the 30s - also still have a little bit of time, though I fear most law reviews are through reviewing ... and that I will be accepting my offer soon. Is anyone else still getting offers (of the top 30 variety)? Or put another way - does anyone know if any top 30 journals are still reviewing articles and extending offers - or are they all on break?

Posted by: Vap'in 4 the market | May 2, 2011 1:56:04 PM

Vap'in 4 the market -- are you out? Did your top-40 expedite shake any apples from the trees?

Posted by: a | Apr 26, 2011 3:03:14 PM

anxiety train, choo choo beep beep!

Posted by: wellcaffeinated | Apr 26, 2011 11:17:45 AM

I heard somewhere that you have a 1 in 4 chance of getting an offer if you make it to a board read, but I have no idea what the basis for that stat is so it definitely goes in the FWIW column.

I'm still in, but I am off the train. No sense in being anxious, it is what it is. I was nervous at first but then realized that we have no control over how this plays out. Good luck to all those still in the struggle!

Posted by: Anon2 | Apr 26, 2011 10:27:25 AM

I'm out too. Nothing doing from expedite requests so I accepted an offer from a T80 general law review. I submitted late so toyed with the idea of withdrawing and resubmitting in August but decided a bird in the hand...

Posted by: anonymouse | Apr 26, 2011 9:09:29 AM

Thanks, xyz. I wonder if perhaps the journals that do notify authors of pending board votes accept a significantly higher percentage than your journal did. (It would seem odd to give authors this information at all, if the chances of a publication offer were still so low.)

Anyone else still riding the law review submission anxiety train?

Posted by: ? | Apr 26, 2011 12:23:58 AM

I was an articles editor at one of the top law reviews more than a decade ago. Maybe things are different now, but "final board review" status wasn't something we typically conveyed to authors, and literally scores of articles went to "final board review" during the high season. For us, at least, I suppose it meant that a first read by an articles editor was successful and that all the articles editors would thereafter read, discuss and vote on the piece. Getting to that point was no small accomplishment, given the volume of submissions we had (and no doubt, it would be even more impressive now), but overwhelmingly most of the pieces that reached "final board review" were eventually rejected. Of course, maybe "final board review" means something different at different schools. If it means that the articles editors gave the piece a thumbs up, but that the EIC still needs to sign off on it, then the odds were approaching 100 percent that the piece would be picked up. If it means that the articles board was still considering the piece but hadn't voted yet, I'd put the odds at something like 1 in 15, or 1 in 20.

Posted by: xyz | Apr 25, 2011 9:15:26 PM

Can anyone who served on law review (I did not) enlighten me regarding the approximate odds of an article being accepted, once it goes to a final board vote?

1 in 2?
1 in 3?

I'm sure it varies from year to year, and from journal to journal. I'd just like to get a rough sense.

Posted by: ? | Apr 25, 2011 4:06:47 PM

I am out. Officially accepted offer from T40 law review, who was kind enough to offer me a 10 day extension for an offer from a T3 law review that asked for an extension. Eventually was dinged from T3 though.

Just want to echo Non-prawf at Apr 19, 2011 12:56:15 PM. Focus on being articulate and succinct. One of my major mistakes was allowing my article to become too long (65 pages). I just had time to finish, but not enough time to make things succinct.

Best of luck to everyone else...

Posted by: anxious | Apr 23, 2011 5:07:50 PM

Please keep the comments coming re: Stanford/Yale JFF. I have not heard anything yet but would be curious to get any real-time info from folks as I'm also trying to make travel plans for May/June. Also, anyone heard from NYC area junior faculty workshop?

Posted by: sleepless | Apr 22, 2011 2:43:32 PM

Congratulations strange game - that's great!

Posted by: anonymouse | Apr 22, 2011 9:43:00 AM

Better to wait until early August at this point.

Posted by: Anon | Apr 22, 2011 8:12:51 AM

So, having finished my piece now, I'm way too late to submit it aren't I?

Posted by: Sillyquestion | Apr 22, 2011 2:18:58 AM

anon at 6:32. Yes, I received a top 25 (or 30, depending on ranking you use) this week. Submitted to 150 or so journals in first week of March. 12 offers, two top 5 board reviews (both came back no). Before this placement (which I obviously am thrilled about), my "highest" offer was in the 70s. Some top journals are still reviewing, though others are on break until May as people have indicated. I am a junior prof and this is only my 2nd time playing the Expresso game.

Posted by: strange game | Apr 21, 2011 8:35:39 PM

Deadline is Monday.

Posted by: anonymouse | Apr 21, 2011 6:47:43 PM

Has anyone received any top 50 offers THIS week?

Posted by: anon | Apr 21, 2011 6:32:28 PM

@anonymouse, when is your deadline?

Posted by: anxious | Apr 21, 2011 5:19:26 PM

Nothing recent but a few rejections in response to an expedite request and a few others promising they would review in time for my deadline. The only journal that specifically stated that it was not reviewing anything, including expedite requests,until after finals was UCLA Law Review.

Posted by: anonymouse | Apr 21, 2011 4:31:25 PM

Anyone receive an offer in the past few days? I am wondering if all the journals have mostly closed up shop for finals now.

Posted by: ? | Apr 21, 2011 3:56:43 PM


Based on my experience, now publishing my 4th piece: a large majority (greater than 50%, maybe much more) of journals do not contact you.

Journals review on a rolling basis. For example, I know several who are on break for exams now and will review starting in May for a few weeks and then shutter (reviewing only very slowly) during the summer, when people are off around the world doing summer internships. The pace picks up again in August...

So I think offers will still continue trickling in over the next weeks, but the pace should be slowing now.

Posted by: anxious | Apr 20, 2011 1:36:06 PM

Here's my situation.

Starting Feb. 14, and continuing through the first week of March, I have submitted to 125 journals. Included are all the top 100 journals as well as roughly the 25 ranked thereafter.

So far no offers. 28 rejections, so 97 outstanding. I have received one notification of full board review from a secondary journal at at top 15 school, but ultimately my peice was not chosen. I am also receiving full board review from a law review at a school ranked in the 70s; no decision has been announced yet on that.

Here's my question. Given that I have received full board review at a couple of decent journals, is it safe to assume that a good chunk of the 97 journals that have not contacted me have me on a B list or are otherwise considering my peice, or is it just that an extremely high percentage of journals simply do not inform authors of rejections? I know that some journals never contact authors, but I didn't think it would be THAT high of a percentage.

Posted by: Anotheranon | Apr 20, 2011 1:05:29 PM

I'm out. Accepted earlier today.

Posted by: Joe | Apr 19, 2011 7:20:31 PM

disagree with prior comment. i know lots of folks who average usnews and w/l rankings to decide between two journals.

Posted by: anonprof | Apr 19, 2011 4:15:59 PM

Yes I do. When we're talking about proxies (for how good an article is), a proxy needs to be well known in order to be a strong proxy. So, impact factor (average citations per article) of a journal might be a good proxy in theory, but most people are not super-aware of the impact factor ratings for, say, the top 100 journals. Conversely, everyone is generally familiar with US News rankings (though of course they fluctuate from year to year, so you should try to use a 5 or 10-yr average to have an accurate sense of how good a school is perceived as being, at least in recent history). Similar with peer rep, most people have at least a general sense of that (e.g., "oh, ______ has a really good faculty - a better faculty than their school's typical ranking.") I think it's generally safe (and ideal) to base a decision on a combination of 5-year averages for peer rep and us news ranking. Just my 2 cents. As to whether you should withdraw and resubmit, I suppose that's up to you - whether you're content with your current offer.

Posted by: Vap'in 4 the market | Apr 19, 2011 1:45:13 PM

@ Vap'in 4 the Market. Do you think that holds true for Tier 2 law schools? I have an offer from a journal from a school ranked in the 70s in USNEWS but below 100 in the W&L rankings. I'm expediting but submitted late so not sure how much interest I'll get. Trying to decide if this is my only offer whether to take it or withdraw my piece and try again in the fall cycle.

Posted by: anonymouse | Apr 19, 2011 1:34:32 PM

I got a placement that I was very happy with -- Top 15-20 journal (depending on what ranking system you use), I am preparing to go on the market next year. I submitted in early February to around the top 100, waited for about 5 weeks with only rejections. (Despite the fact that this was totally agonizing, I would think about submitting early again -- I think that it is too easy to get buried in the pile later in the process).

Got an offer from a 100-ish ranked journal, expedited, got the top 15-20 offer almost immediately (I suspect the piece must have already been under review given how fast I got the offer). I did not get any other offers off the expedite, although I did get told that I reached a full board review at one other journal.

If I had to guess what made a difference in the placement, I would say it was taking my time to do a major rewrite after getting initial feedback, including completely revising the introduction 3 times. Several of my readers gave me the helpful reminder that the introduction is often what sells (or doesn't) a piece, so it is really important to have it be: (1) well written; (2) concise; (3) frontload what your contribution is.

In any event, that was my experience FWIW. This process is crazy, so who knows!

Posted by: Non-Prawf | Apr 19, 2011 12:56:15 PM

Has anyone here landed what you'd personally consider a dream placement and if so can you share w/ us your story?

Posted by: anxious | Apr 19, 2011 12:39:40 PM

Thanks! I will be on the lookout for my rejection e-mail on or around 5/4!

Posted by: Anon | Apr 19, 2011 11:27:11 AM

I haven't heard from S/Y. I submitted last year, too, and I just checked when I got the email letting me know of that rejection. It was 5/4/10.

Posted by: gulp | Apr 19, 2011 11:20:40 AM

I think most people mean USNWR (or possibly peer rep, as measured by USNWR). I doubt many mean W&L. Even though W&L is a wonderful, wonderful source, few in legal academia are, say, familiar with the rough ordering of the top 50 in W&L - whereas most are somewhat familiar with the top 50 in US news or even the top 50 peer rep.

Posted by: Vap'in 4 the market | Apr 19, 2011 10:57:08 AM

Anyone heard from Stanford-Yale Junior Faculty Forum yet?

Posted by: Anon | Apr 19, 2011 10:36:53 AM

When we talk about ranking of journals (top 14, top 10, top 25), are we judging them based on school's academic reputation? U.S. News Ranking? Washing & Lee Journal ranking?

Posted by: anxious | Apr 19, 2011 1:04:49 AM


That's quite amazing. Congrats on the recognition!

Posted by: anxious | Apr 19, 2011 1:01:15 AM

Thanks! NYU is not among those I'm waiting on. And yes, that's all correct.

Posted by: 123anon | Apr 18, 2011 10:12:54 PM

123anon, is the journal you're waiting to hear from NYU? Have they just stopped sending out rejections, I wonder? (I submitted to them 7 weeks ago.)

And are you saying you are an unknown with no academic affiliation and you only submitted to the Top 14? And got 3 offers? Congrats on your placement.

Posted by: Anon | Apr 18, 2011 9:54:13 PM

submitted under my real, but equally anonymous, name

Posted by: 123anon | Apr 18, 2011 9:14:25 PM

Did you submit your article as "123anon"?

Posted by: anonanana | Apr 18, 2011 6:17:22 PM


I assume that 123anon is referring to the proposition that name (either of the author or the originating law school) has an impact on the likelihood that the article will be accepted by a top law journal. With all due respect to 123anon and his success as a non-academic, I'm not sure that his singular data point disproves the general proposition. That being said, the proposition has been the subject of a fair bit of discussion (both academic and blogospheric) and may be worth even more.

Posted by: consolation | Apr 18, 2011 5:29:38 PM


What's this idea that this is all about names? Sorry I don't follow...

Posted by: anxious | Apr 18, 2011 3:54:31 PM

Submitted to top 14 journals toward end of March: 3 offers, about 8 rejections, waiting on 1 more journal. Non-prof, so the idea that it's all about names appears to be a myth.

Posted by: 123anon | Apr 18, 2011 10:45:13 AM

Whoops! I meant March, March 20th to be exact.

Posted by: VAP'in 4 the market | Apr 17, 2011 9:57:18 PM

I assume he means March.

Posted by: First Year Prof | Apr 17, 2011 8:13:18 PM

@Vap'in 4 the market,

Can you clarify: "I submitted the 3rd week of May"?

Posted by: anxious | Apr 17, 2011 6:47:20 PM

Anonymous Waiting, we are not too late in the cycle for top 40 offers. I got one on Friday.

Re journals people never heard from, I personally don't take that as a bad thing. Realistically, a lot of places aren't going to give you a solid look until there is an expedite that prompts them to read some part of your piece. And a school may think it's better to say nothing than give you a preemptive rejection (since you may well still gather offers sufficient to tempt them to take a look at your piece).

Re specialties, certainly it's correct to say there is no one rule to figure out exactly how good your specialty is, but I will say this. Publishing at a secondary at Harvard or Yale brings new rules into play. In other words, if we say (as I think) that you add 50 or 60 to have an approximate sense of the flagship equivalency of a journal - with Harvard or Yale, you probably just add 30 or 40. I think the secondaries at Harvard and Yale are in a different league (both in terms of competition and how they are viewed by law professors). My take for the person with a specialty at #40 is that they may have something that is like a top 100 flag, though maybe even that is being generous. There simply isn't near the competition to place articles in specialty journals, whereas even a flagship journal at the #100 school gets tons and tons of submissions!

BTW, my personal experience this cycle: I submitted the 3rd week of May to the top 120 flags and a dozen specialties. I have received 11 offers ranging from 115-40. Am currently at 40, expediting upward, and hoping some of the top places are still making offers. Also, I did get 3 top 50 offers within the last week so do not give up hope!

Posted by: VAP'in 4 the market | Apr 17, 2011 2:18:20 PM

I have the same unheard-from list, plus more, plus some schools (including a few biggies) that everyone seems to have heard from but I haven't.

Posted by: Anon | Apr 16, 2011 6:09:06 PM

@First Year Prof,

For what it's worth, at a top specialized journal, someone informed me that they have just gotten on the "formal" part of the review process last week. Not sure what they mean.

Posted by: anxious | Apr 16, 2011 2:58:12 PM

I sent to about the top 100 in early March and then a couple of weeks ago to about 25 specialty journals. I have heard from about 20 (about 16 straight rejections, about 4 filled up). My list of unheard schools is about the same, but maybe about 25 more. It's so late in the process, I wonder if it's not better to withdraw so that I can preserve the opportunity to submit to the schools that have been silent or never reviewed my piece in August. A pretty upsetting thing to do, but it's really looking hopeless at this point, and I wonder whether it is better to salvage a second chance. Hearing that some offers have come through is encouraging, but I think Friday was probably among the last meeting days for law reviews. Any thoughts?

Posted by: First Year Prof | Apr 16, 2011 1:34:27 PM

I see what you mean, consolation. No, I wouldn't say this journal is especially prestigious, beyond just being attached to a first-tier school.

Posted by: Expedite | Apr 15, 2011 7:16:29 PM


My perspective is that it depends more on the prestige of the specific journal within the particular specialty than it does on the ranking of the school at which the journal originates. So, the second-ranked specialty in a field is generally quite good regardless of where the journal originates. Of course, the top-ranked journals in a particular field will often originate at a good school, so in some ways the school of origination can be a relatively accurate proxy, but I'd still refer to the rank of the journal within the field than the I would the rank of the school of origination. Anyway, I'm realizing that this is probably more complex than it needs to be, but basically, if you're talking about a placement in a top journal within your field, I think that many hiring committee would view that favorably.

Posted by: consolation | Apr 15, 2011 6:53:04 PM

Yes, anonymouse, this is the time to submit and expedite all the way up.

Query: What would people (well, specifically, hiring committees) make of a placement in a specialty journal at a Top 35-40 school?

I've been told the piece had/has the potential to place quite high (and I got board review at some good places), so I'm not against revising and resubmitting if that's the right move, but I'd also just like to get the piece placed, if I can get a placement that will make this piece "count" as a good publication, in the eyes of hiring committees.

Posted by: Expedite | Apr 15, 2011 5:24:45 PM

@ Consolation - I am footing the bill myself but as you say, why not! I submitted late in the game - early April - so I wasn't expecting much but it seems like places are still deciding so it's worth a shot.

Posted by: anonymouse | Apr 15, 2011 5:15:46 PM

*Posts on this thread* *Waits for offer*
Congrats anonymouse!

Posted by: Anon | Apr 15, 2011 3:22:13 PM


What's the harm? Unless (and maybe even if) you're footing the bill, the worst that will happen is that they say no. Especially at this late date, it seems unlikely to me that you will have enough time to string together enough offers to climb your way into the T25 if you only expedite 10-20 places above your current offer.

Congrats regardless!

Posted by: consolation | Apr 15, 2011 3:09:57 PM

And just after posting that, I got my first offer! Woo hoo - general review from school ranked in the 70s. In accordance with previous advice, I expedited to journals from schools ranked in the 50s and higher. When I first submitted, I didn't submit to top 25 journals - do people think it's worth doing now? Even with a relatively low offer?

Posted by: anonymouse | Apr 15, 2011 2:56:34 PM

FWIW, I just checked Express0 today and Tulane, Arizona State, North Carolina, and UC Davis are now on the temporarily full list (added in the last week). I never received rejections from any of them.

Posted by: anonymouse | Apr 15, 2011 2:26:45 PM

I submitted to the top 100 and several IP specialty journals.

Here's who I never heard from - Alabama, American, Arizona State, Berkeley (Cal), Berkeley Tech & Law J., Boston College, Buffalo, Cincinnati, Columbia J. L. Arts, UConn, DePaul, Emory, Fordham, GW, Georgetown, Hastings, Hofstra, Illinois, Kentucky, Loyola (Chi.), Michigan State, North Carolina, Oregon, Penn State, URichmond, Rutgers, Seton Hall, Temple, Texas, Tulane, Villanova, Wake Forest, Wash. U., Wisconsin, Yale Law & Policy Review.

I received 44 rejections and 9 offers. I sent my piece out on March 17, received my first offer from a specialty journal 6 days in, my first offer from a law review 8 days in, and my last expedite deadline expires today (29 days in!). I've decided to go with a well-respected specialty journal over a mid-80s law review, in part for the audience it would reach, and in part because the specialty journal was peer reviewed.

I hope the data is useful to someone. Good luck to those of you still holding out for your dream placement, and happy writing this summer!

Posted by: Journey | Apr 15, 2011 8:32:45 AM

Another first-time submitter, another top 75ish offer (my expedite window is almost closed).

I basically submitted everywhere from 20-150 and the better-ranked specialty journals. Of the "no response" journals listed by NewGuy and anonimation I heard from FSU and Iowa (the latter to say that it was full when I expedited). Other than that, nothing.

I also got about 20 rejects -- probably 15 prior to expediting, and 5 after.

Hope it helps!

Posted by: Anon good nurse, anon! | Apr 14, 2011 11:26:34 PM

Those of you holding offers, please remember to withdraw from the journals from which you'd no longer accept an offer!

Posted by: Expedite | Apr 14, 2011 8:05:40 PM

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