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Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Submission Angsting Fall 2019

This is the post to share information or ask questions about submitting to law reviews.

The comments can be used to share information, complaints, praise, etc. about which journals you have heard from, which you have not, and so forth.

Additionally, a spreadsheet to gather information is here (and embedded below).

I won't update or watch the spreadsheet. You can go ahead and add your own information by going to the spreadsheet here. The spreadsheet is editable by anyone, except that a few columns and a row (the ones highlighted in yellow) are locked, either because they auto-calculate or because tampering with them has caused a problem in the past. (If something about them needs to be changed post a comment, and I will change them.)

Entering information in the column entitled "Username" is of course totally optional, but a way to make keeping track easier. For example, if you pick a username, you will easily be able to sort by your entries and update them, instead of trying to remember what day you submitted and sorting that way. This also adds information -- showing, for example, that all of the entries on the spreadsheet come from one person, or from lots of people, etc. At any rate, totally optional, and simply a way to add more information.

Rostron and Levit's extremely helpful guide to submitting to law reviews is available here (this is the January 2019 version). The article now also includes hyperlinks to law review websites.

For those wondering "when should I start submitting?", Scholastica has information through 2016. Here is a graph of submission dates as reported to PrawfsBlawg over three recent fall submission cycles. Remember that this information is drawn only from people who participate in PrawfsBlawg, who are not a random sample at all.

Fall Submissions 2015  2016  2018

And here is a graph of submission dates of articles that were reported as accepted.

Submission date of Accepted Articles - Fall 2015  2016  2018

A histogram-ish graph comparing when all reported articles were submitted and when accepted articles were submitted shows that these two groups match up almost exactly. Accepted articles were less than 10% of the total reported articles, so it's not that accepted articles are swamping the data:

Histogram Accepted Submitted

Fall Date of Submission Chart

You can see the data I used for this here.

[Updated 7/26/19 to remove graph with messed up labels; updated 7/27/19 to add graphs with hopefully not-messed-up labels, but please let me know if you see something that looks wonky.]

 

Posted by Sarah Lawsky on July 23, 2019 at 11:06 AM in Law Review Review | Permalink

Comments

Dear Am I Special; you are special! Didn’t get that sentence

Posted by: Enderman | Aug 16, 2019 4:45:46 PM

My article did not prompt much discussion at Northwestern, either.

Posted by: FW | Aug 16, 2019 4:24:33 PM

Special,

For better or worse (for the better), you're special. That wasn't in my letter.

Posted by: Axel Foley | Aug 16, 2019 3:19:39 PM

Just got my Northwestern ding, which said my piece “provoked a great deal of discussion among the editors.” Is this the same language everyone has received, or am I somehow special? I assume the former. Not that it matters because a rejection is a rejection, but with the deafening silence this cycle I’m grasping for what I can.

Posted by: Am I Special? | Aug 16, 2019 3:12:42 PM

nana, thanks so much! You just saved me $26. I owe you a beer.

On a more serious note, I find it disappointing that most journals that still offer an alternative to Scholastica have changed from accepting emailed submissions to only accepting hard copies by mail. So when you factor in the costs of printing and stamps, the $6.50 we pay Scholastica is now a wash. Still, I miss the old days of being able to submit widely by email.

Posted by: Atticus Grinch | Aug 16, 2019 11:56:13 AM

Has anyone heard anything from or about Hastings or Cincinnati? I saw one response from Cincinnati early in the cycle but nothing else.

Posted by: SpringStrikeOut | Aug 16, 2019 11:46:44 AM

Same. I submitted an article on a fairly common body of law and have heard back from five law reviews into about the early 50 range.

Posted by: Axel Foley | Aug 16, 2019 10:47:18 AM

International-law-2,

That seems par for other subjects. I submitted a first amendment piece to ~40 journals and have heard back from ~4

Posted by: Fc22 | Aug 16, 2019 10:33:16 AM

International law is very-very slow. submitted to 20 or so journals in early august, one 2 responded so far.

Posted by: International law-2 | Aug 16, 2019 8:57:40 AM

@nana and @Waiting, it is a relief to know that others are experiencing such complete silence. This doesn't totally alleviate the anxiety, but commiseration weirdly helps :)

Posted by: HelloDarkness | Aug 15, 2019 7:23:04 PM

Atticus, use https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1019029.

Waiting, you kill me. Thank goodness I am not alone.

Posted by: nana | Aug 15, 2019 7:04:40 PM

Does anyone have a recent update of the law review submission guidelines? I used to have a handy summary that showed which journals accepted email submissions. I've been out of the game for a few years, but is that document still floating around?

Posted by: Atticus Grinch | Aug 15, 2019 6:39:13 PM

The fall cycle in a nutshell: https://i.imgur.com/yHC2XlQ.jpg

Posted by: Waiting | Aug 15, 2019 6:27:52 PM

@Axel Foley, if we're not really interested in a piece, then it won't get read, regardless of expedite. For pieces we're interested in, of course the expedited ones get priority. However, we're seriously reading plenty of non-expedited pieces from non-established authors. Being an established author does help curry interest, but we're fairly conscious about trying not to favor established authors. We don't need big names to establish our credibility, and we want to advance of the careers of up and coming scholars.

As for timing, we get expedite notifications every day and usually check our database even more frequently than that. We're pretty flexible about moving articles up and down the queue as expedites come in, and have had many emergency committee reads already.

@corp law matters, I second everything aa said. We try very hard to publish a range of topics. In fact, I know some members of our committee are still looking for corporate law articles now. There are no quotas for any topic (except maybe a soft cap for conlaw and crim, because we publish so much of those topics).

Posted by: LReditor | Aug 15, 2019 5:56:58 PM

In previous years, I've seen a list of known non-responding journals--does anyone have it at hand? Of course, the list probably changes a bit year to year, but there does seem to be some consistency: Yale and Stanford seem to send reasonably prompt rejections each year, for instance.

Bonus points for journals that notify of full board reads.

Posted by: qui tacet consentire | Aug 15, 2019 4:35:02 PM

nana,

It's good to hear that others have nothing but silence. I'm also approaching two weeks and I've only received one rejection. Like you, I can only assume this means most journals have simply been collecting pieces and haven't started making decisions in earnest.

The alternative--that reviews have just decided to stop giving rejections--is more than I can bear.

Posted by: YesterdayIKilledAMammoth | Aug 15, 2019 2:38:46 PM

aa - thanks for the perspective. Agree that there are other areas published as rarely as corporate/business. But there are many profs writing in corporate, usually several at each school, way more than on "class actions." The dearth of acceptances at Harvard and Stanford (outside IP) and others, compared to the high volume of submissions, is noteworthy.

Also, there is good corporate law scholarship without data, see, e.g., YLJ.

You might be right about not having a limit for slots at some top journals, I know YLJ does not have limits per category.

Posted by: corp law matters | Aug 15, 2019 2:35:43 PM

@ corp law matters -

As a former articles editor at one of the schools that you mention by name, I just want to note that your perception of this process, at least at my school, couldn't be more wrong. We did not have "business slots," nor were we institutionally biased against business/corp pieces. To the contrary, we were aware of the general perception about corp/business law publications and we worked *extra* hard to find and publish such pieces. As an example of that, although our general presumption regarding dense and inaccessible pieces was that this was a sign of a lack of clarity of the underlying idea (which reflects poorly on the quality of the piece), when it came to business/corp pieces, we were far more likely to refer dense/inaccessible pieces to business/corp professors for outside review. I don't recall if we ultimately published any corp/business pieces, but if we did not, it was not for lack of effort on our part.

(It's worth noting that the same goes for international law scholarship.)

Top journals publish so few articles that you can do this sort of selective anecdote mining for most fields. How many class action articles are published by the top 6 journals? My guess is vanishingly few, especially if you exclude one or two "class action-friendly" outlier journals. How many trusts and estates pieces? Etc., etc. I think there is absolutely a strong bias toward weighty important-seeming public law pieces (admin and theoretical conlaw in particular). But I really do not believe that there are biases *against* other specific areas of the law, with the possible exception of CLS, which has strong supporters and strong detractors and, I suspect, will find some individual committees far more amenable than others (but in ways that will just as often cut toward publication as against, including at top journals).

Posted by: aa | Aug 15, 2019 1:37:06 PM

Then, Axel, the question is what happens to articles that were submitted on August 1? If they are open but don't plan to start reviewing until much later, on purpose, do they assume the August 1 pieces are gone? And is there any remedy for us poor souls in purgatory?

Posted by: FW | Aug 15, 2019 1:16:23 PM

corp law matters - Facebook?

Posted by: anothercorpprof | Aug 15, 2019 1:15:48 PM

I'm trying to make heads or tails out of this. Perhaps some journals are actively trying to begin reviewing later. For instance, the Florida Law Review: last year, they opened this year after a point of the calendar when, last year, they had already made plenty of decisions on articles.

Posted by: Axel Foley | Aug 15, 2019 1:11:29 PM

Hello Darkness, I have never gone this long without any responses at all. I usually have a handful (at least) of rejections by now, even if the offer doesn't come until mid month. I'm 14 days in and truly have heard nothing. At all. I think that has to mean that most open journals aren't actively reviewing yet. That is more likely than the alternative explanation, that by some strange coincidence all of the journals that previously sent rejections changed, the same year, to a silence-instead-of-rejection policy. But perhaps I am rationalizing to avoid depression.

Posted by: nana | Aug 15, 2019 12:50:49 PM

So if Harvard has only accepted a single corporate piece once in the last ten years by anyone outside HLS, the most corporate-friendly journal (Yale) is closed, Stanford mostly only does IP for its business slots, and the usual suspects (Columbia, Penn, and Chicago) have already taken corporate pieces in the Spring, where does that leave a corporate law prof this cycle?

Posted by: corp law matters | Aug 15, 2019 11:49:47 AM

I just don't understand why, after two weeks, they won't just send a rejection note so I can mentally and emotionally move on. I'm having a terrible time managing my anxiety. Of course, my mental health issues are not LR editors' problem. But this is a long time to have heard nothing.

And I take your point Axel Foley that we need to withdraw when we get an offer we're more likely to take, and that's why I've always done so. I'm going to go try to distract myself.

Posted by: HelloDarkness | Aug 15, 2019 11:24:41 AM

fc22, yes, but with a ton of qualifiers. The biggest being expedites: journals are more likely to make a decision where there's a deadline (especially a meaningful one). Also, top scholars are likely to be read without an expedite than unestablished scholars. So if you're a prof at a T4 school with no publications, the lack of response might be that the law review has prioritized reading other articles over yours. That's a long way of saying that you can get some clues from the process but there's a ton of noise.

Posted by: Axel Foley | Aug 15, 2019 9:44:40 AM

First time submitter here. What's the general consensus on "X journal has sent out rejections on pieces submitted on the same day / after I submitted" ? Is it good news or no news?

Posted by: fc22 | Aug 15, 2019 9:01:11 AM

Also, with your law review, where does the expedite come into play? Are you seriously reading articles without expedites, but only from established scholars? At what point does an expedite catch your eye or otherwise prompt you to review an article?

Posted by: Axel Foley | Aug 15, 2019 8:39:02 AM

Thanks for the incredibly thoughtful reply, LReditor!

Posted by: Axel Foley | Aug 15, 2019 8:36:25 AM

@Axel Foley, this will be a long response. For us and other tip-top journals that can take their pick of articles, the CV is relatively unimportant. However, my impression is that as you move down the journal rankings, the CV becomes more and more important. Even at some lower T14 flagships, I've heard that editors will often use the CV to decide which articles to fast track, since their strategy is to get to articles before tip-top journals do. So you should take my remarks with the caveat that they won't generalize across journals.

For us, we don't look at the CV/cover letter for the obviously good and obviously bad articles. And for articles in between, we'll look at the CV/cover letter, but they rarely make a difference. As articles move through our review process and become more plausible candidates for publication, we'll generally take a gander at the CV, but, again, it rarely influences our decision.

Regarding which elements are important on the CV, it's tough to say. In theory, we, like most of our peers, want to publish authors from diverse backgrounds, professional experiences, and educational institutions. However, in practice, if I were to submit an article this cycle, I'd try to make my CV as "prestigious" as possible. I think the CV is most useful when we're unsure whether an article is brilliant or insane, or when we need to gauge the author's credibility on an issue. In these instances, it'd help to emphasize things like employment at T14 law schools, competitive fellowships (e.g. Climenko), HYS law degrees, clerkships, membership in certain organizations (e.g. ALI, FRCP Rules Committee), and other publications in top journals.

Less important elements include law firm experience, popular writings/appearances, forthcoming work, bar admissions, most visiting gigs, and most workshops/conferences. That said, sometimes the most important part of the CV will depend on what you submit. For example, if you're submitting an article about the CFPB, it'd help to emphasize your experience working at the CFPB.

Posted by: LReditor | Aug 14, 2019 6:42:11 PM

LReditor, I appreciate you taking the time to answer a few questions. Can you shed light on the importance of one’s CV, and the several different elements of a CV.

Posted by: Axel Foley | Aug 14, 2019 5:27:35 PM

@AxelFoley: I agree entirely.
@LREditor: I don't know whether that's true (I don't know Lemley at all). But I assume that his speedy withdrawals would mean that he's already received an offer elsewhere and is doing precisely what Axel Foley recommended. I know that's annoying for editors (been there!), but I'm not sure how to avoid it without more widespread use of exclusive submissions.

Posted by: Not Mark Lemley | Aug 14, 2019 5:07:45 PM

@SpringStrikeOut, that hasn't been my experience. I believe most of our acceptances have gone out in the afternoon, and our rejections go out whenever we're sure we won't accept a piece, at various times of the day (and usually in batches). But maybe our journal is unusual in this regard?

Posted by: LReditor | Aug 14, 2019 4:54:34 PM

Good heavens. There's a bad joke buried in that tidbit, I'm certain of it.

Posted by: FW | Aug 14, 2019 4:51:14 PM

LReditor,
A general rule held by authors is that acceptances come in the evenings and rejections come in the morning. Does this match your experience?

Posted by: SpringStrikeOut | Aug 14, 2019 4:41:49 PM

@FW, like YLJ, we get around 60% as many submissions in the fall. The raw numbers don't tell you everything, though, because the fall submissions also tend to be lower in quality, for whatever reason.

@Not Mark Lemley, I've heard that Mark Lemley is notorious for withdrawing articles before journals get a chance to reject (or accept) him. For his non-withdrawn articles, it's possible that he did receive rejections, but that they went to his spam folder or something. The spreadsheet reports that others have received rejections from HLR, and I find it hard to believe HLR would decide to selectively not send him (or some subset of authors) rejection emails.

Posted by: LReditor | Aug 14, 2019 2:56:44 PM

Not Mark Lemley, while I'm not disagreeing with your point that rejection letters are easy and preferable, your post is a great time to remind us to be considerate of the editors. Too many times I've seen professors, after receiving a superior offer, forget to withdraw from lower journals--whether their article is under consideration or has received an offer--because, well, the prof would rather do other stuff. I'm obviously not saying that you do that, but I think that if we lead by example, the law reviews would follow suit.

Posted by: Axel Foley | Aug 14, 2019 2:02:36 PM

Since some law review editors read this thread, I recommend to them Professor Lemley's open letter to the Harvard Law Review (recently published in The Green Bag as "Please Reject Me"): https://leiterlawschool.typepad.com/leiter/2019/04/please-reject-me-an-open-letter-to-the-harvard-law-review.html

TL;DR: It sucks when editors never bother to send a rejection notice. It's rude, it wastes authors' time, it wastes the time of other law reviews, and it's not that hard.

Posted by: Not Mark Lemley | Aug 14, 2019 10:56:37 AM

@FW: YLJ posted some data about its submission cycles several years ago (https://www.yalelawjournal.org/files/WhenToSubmit_4xqshn68.pdf). Assuming it is reasonably representative (who knows), it looks like the fall cycle is roughly 60% as large as the spring cycle.

Posted by: anon | Aug 14, 2019 10:48:53 AM

LR Editor, can I follow up on one comment you made? You said that there are far fewer submissions in the fall. That's my sense too, but it's interesting to hear it from the other side. Maybe the data are available on Scholastica, but assuming not (and I will look) how would you compare the two? Do you get half the number, in the fall? Or is the difference even more dramatic?

Posted by: FW | Aug 14, 2019 9:24:47 AM

Thank you all for the comments. I'll hang in there for now.

Especially - LReditor! It is super important for all of us here to get some insights from within the system, and your contribution really helps us (me at least).

Posted by: Grrrr | Aug 14, 2019 5:38:50 AM

LReditor, super helpful!

Posted by: Axel Foley | Aug 13, 2019 9:52:38 PM

Thanks, @LReditor, for such helpful advice!

Posted by: Re-submit | Aug 13, 2019 9:17:05 PM

@Re-submit, on offers, we haven't made extended any yet. There were a few promising submissions that we were excited about, but they were snatched up by our peer journals before we finished our review. This is also how I know that other journals are still active right now.

On resubmits, most authors don't mention it in the cover letter. The cover letter barely makes a difference and is often ignored anyway. And we don't penalize resubmits -- often pieces are rejected for external reasons (e.g. we already have 5 conlaw articles) -- so there's no reason to downplay or draw attention to the fact that your piece is a resubmit. That said, I'd be remiss if I didn't tell you that most authors do change the title and tweak the abstract/intro -- not that it makes a difference because we can still tell when the piece is a resubmit.

Posted by: LReditor | Aug 13, 2019 7:33:32 PM

@LReditor, thanks for your insights! Have you made any offers this cycle?

Since you mentioned re-submits, I was wondering whether you have any suggested approach to them. For instance, is it helpful if authors explain (e.g., in a cover letter) how the re-submission is different from the original submission? Is it better to change the title or otherwise downplay that it is a re-submission? Grateful for your thoughts!

Posted by: Re-submit | Aug 13, 2019 6:57:44 PM

At what point do you need to either have an offer or pack it in?

I submitted on Aug. 1 and haven't heard anything. At all. From anyone.

Posted by: HasAnyoneSeenMyMammoth | Aug 13, 2019 6:44:55 PM

@Grrrr, I am an editor at a T6 flagship. Although we're still technically on summer break, we're actively reviewing submissions and looking for a few more pieces to round out our volume. I agree with the other commenters that submitting now is a free (well, $6.50) bite at the apple -- some of the pieces we accepted in the spring were resubmits from the prior fall cycle.

And you're right that there are fewer slots remaining in the fall, but there are also fewer submissions (and, more importantly, fewer must-publish pieces for us to jump on). I'm not sure how the math works out, but I don't think you're as disadvantaged in the fall as you think.

Posted by: LReditor | Aug 13, 2019 6:19:28 PM

Any word on international law journals?
It has been unbearably quiet for me.

Posted by: International law | Aug 13, 2019 3:57:20 PM

FW, same here with respect to the scheduling of things. But it was a nightmare the one year I depended on a fall acceptance. And also, when you submit in the spring, It's comforting to know that I've checked some publication boxes by the second or third month of the year.

Further, I ALWAYS think that I've submitted to late. And then a month after I'm off the publication market, I see that everything is still going strong. So my guess is that things will pick up steam as students return.

Posted by: Axel Foley | Aug 13, 2019 11:06:50 AM

Part of the issue may be that August 1 was a Friday. In truth, there's been only one week of August so far. I would guess most of the excitement will be the 19th to 23rd and the 26th to 30th. Axel, I am not giving up hope for acceptances, but like you I think it's best to view the fall as the free bite at the apple. It sucks for me because my yearly writing schedule tends to result in articles done in late July. I spend the eight-week winter break on other things, and I don't like spending the first two weeks of the spring semester crashing to complete an article. To shift to February submissions, I am going to have to kill myself this fall or wait out a full year. Neither appeals right now.

Posted by: FW | Aug 13, 2019 11:00:50 AM

Grrrr,

Yeah, I think you're angsting sums up a lot of our thoughts. As I mentioned earlier, I think the fall is difficult because you can't possibly apply to all of the law reviews. Some volumes fill up before other top law reviews have even begun to review. I think the best way to treat the fall is like a free bite at the apple where, if your article underperforms, you can resubmit in the spring. One year, I needed a fall hit because I missed the spring and, well, never again. So if you're unhappy with your placement, I'd resubmit the article unless it's extremely time-sensitive. Perhaps things are just about to get lively with new journals opening, as well some dormant journals appearing to review according to the spreadsheet, but who really knows.

Posted by: Axel Foley | Aug 13, 2019 10:31:41 AM

LReditor, yes, we are. There are a few other journals, sure. But when one sorts by date, the limited number of journals (with a heavy emphasis on one or two) jumps out, visually. Especially compared with prior years. And yes, it's self-reported, so I don't take it as reliable of what is actually going on, but again it seems very different from the last, say, five years, during which I have also watched this spreadsheet in August. I'd urge you to pull up the spreadsheet from 2018, sort by date, and compare them. The contrast is striking.

Posted by: FW | Aug 13, 2019 10:27:40 AM

Hi all,

So, I never submitted in the fall cycle, so this is all new to me (submitted every year in the past 12 years in the spring cycle). I always heard that the fall cycle is not generally advised. I never suspected that things will be that bad, however. I submitted Aug. 5, and I only heard back from one journal. Then, I read that every day or so, yet another journal is "closed" (e.g., Yale, Texas, etc.) - but only a few days after this season began, which really makes me anxious. More than the usual anxiety.

Any thoughts? Should I simply say - oh well, this is just a longshot to place somewhere decent anyhow (say, T50) in the fall, and that I should simply (and peacefully) wait for the spring? Or is it too early to think like that, and that in a week or two, things will get active, much like the spring cycle? (well, I know that it will not be exactly like the spring cycle for many reasons, but you know what I meant).

My suspicion is that we are all "fighting" on 1-2 slots (unlike 6-8 in the spring), for half of the journals (those that are open), and thus unless you are teaching in a T14 school (I don't), then its just like a lottery to get placed anyhow. I suspect also that journals are moving towards canceling the fall cycle little by little. I don't mind that they will, but Scholastica - is it really fair to charge 6.5$ for a journal with one slot open? Shouldn't we do something about that at least (not to mention the whole system, but in the fall it really upsets me. Especially when journals are closing a few days after opening).

Sorry for the long post. I don't often post here, but I really enjoy this platform. I would LOVE any thoughts. And if there are some editors reading this, I would your take on the fall cycle as well (less on past fall cycles – rather, this specific one).

Posted by: Grrrr | Aug 13, 2019 9:55:14 AM

Got another message from UCLA, saying that they made a mistake and that the initial review will begin by the 19th but won't be completed until after that. So maybe not so fishy after all!

Posted by: new at this | Aug 13, 2019 9:48:40 AM

Texas is closed.

Posted by: anon | Aug 13, 2019 9:33:40 AM

@FW, are we looking at the same spreadsheet? In addition to Michigan and Yale, there are a number of Harvard, Columbia, and Stanford entries. Moreover, I know of at least a few other T14 flagships that have started reviewing. I wouldn't read too much into the numbers in a self-reported spreadsheet.

Posted by: LReditor | Aug 12, 2019 11:06:13 PM

My UCLA expedite email said their first board meeting was Aug. 19. Fishy . . .

Posted by: new at this | Aug 12, 2019 7:59:42 PM

FW, yeah, I can't quite figure it out. I'm assuming that law reviews like Fordham haven't begun reviewing articles since they traditionally send out rejections. Also for instance, this year, the standard UCLA message states that their first board review isn't until the 26th. This, and other anecdotal evidence, suggests that much of the heavy reviewing hasn't begun yet. That's my optimistic take on things.

Posted by: Axel Foley | Aug 12, 2019 7:38:55 PM

This is such a strange year. The spreadsheet suggests that, basically, only Michigan and Yale are reviewing (and Yale, as someone noted, is full). At it's nearly halfway through the month. I can't recall another year like this in recent memory.

Posted by: FW | Aug 12, 2019 6:50:49 PM

Anonce,

There's no good hard and fast rule. It's about Law Review A versus Specialty B. The best thing to do is ask a research active faculty member at your former law school, or someone in your field, and ask them directly which one they prefer. Or give us the specifics in here. But you can scan all of the angsting thread dating way back; each time, many people ask your precise question and no good answer has ever been given.

Posted by: Axel Foley | Aug 12, 2019 6:44:14 PM

aa - I'm about to go on the entry-level market. I have one other T60 flagship publication and a few other minor publications (unremarkable secondaries and mainstream media). Any advice you could offer would be much appreciated!

Posted by: Anonce | Aug 12, 2019 4:49:00 PM

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