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Friday, October 09, 2015

Definitive Answers to Unanswerable Law Review Submission Questions

There is a quote attributed to the screenwriter William Goldman regarding Hollywood - "Nobody knows anything." I increasingly feel like this applies to article submission strategies. Everybody has their ideas about timing and titles, word counts and body/footnote ratios. Nobody knows what they're talking about. Nevertheless, this post will now definitively answer these questions for all time with no more need for disputes or discussion. You're welcome.

1. When should I submit for the Spring cycle? First Friday after Valentine's Day.

2. When should I submit for the Fall cycle? You shouldn't. But if you must, St. Bartholomew's Day (August 24).

3. What is the maximum word count? Never, ever over 25,000. No matter what. No exceptions. And the difference between an essay and an article is that one is long (over 15,000) and one is short (under 15,000).

4. What is the ideal footnote-to-body word count ratio? No one cares, or at least no one should care. But this much is probably true - you have too many footnotes, and they contain too many words.

5. Should my title have a colon in it? No. Titles should be no more than six words long and contain no punctuation.

6. How long should my abstract be? 250 words, tops.

7. If I see on Prawsblawg that a law review is sending rejections to some people who submitted after me, should I get my hopes up that maybe they are considering my article? No.  If you try to read the tea leaves, you'll only see the Grim. 

8. If I get to final board review, should I get my hopes up? No. You must go into the process like the Millennium Falcon into an asteroid field and bravely say "Never tell me the odds." By the way, for any editors who might be reading this, please never put "Congratulations" anywhere on any email informing an author that they have reached final board review.

9. Is it okay to submit my article to journals that I am not sure I would publish in? No. And while we're at it, the Washington & Lee journal rankings have nothing to do with submitting or expediting.

10. What's the deal with comparing specialty journals to general law reviews in terms of rank and expediting? This question, more than any other question about the law review publication process, gets the widest range of responses. The value placed on specialty journals depends on the field, the views of the individual faculty, the audience you want to reach, etc. And so, having no authority vested in me, I will now arbitrarily and irrationally establish the rule... add 30 to the US News peer ranking of the law school that publishes the specialty journal, and that shall be its ranking for purposes of submissions and expediting. So let it be written, so let it be done.

If at any time in history anyone has ever achieved any measure of success in article placement despite ignoring this advice, that success can only be attributed to witchcraft.

Posted by Rhett Larson on October 9, 2015 at 02:35 PM | Permalink


AnonProf, it seems to have been a vehicle for humor. Like pita for your humous... Nice job, "Advice"!

Posted by: Matthew Bruckner | Oct 15, 2015 11:19:58 AM

If is submit my article with some humous on top do I have a better chance to be read?

Posted by: Advice | Oct 11, 2015 3:17:26 AM


Posted by: AnonProf | Oct 10, 2015 4:27:48 PM

If this were even slightly humous, I could see the point. As is, however, what a waste of a post.

Posted by: AnonProf | Oct 10, 2015 1:52:21 PM

Seven of those are right, but I'm not going to say which seven.

Posted by: Jack | Oct 9, 2015 8:33:42 PM

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