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Saturday, February 01, 2020

Submission Angsting Spring 2020

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 2020 version). The article now also includes hyperlinks to law review websites.

Posted by Sarah Lawsky on February 1, 2020 at 06:11 PM in Law Review Review | Permalink


I find the comments of "Axel Foley" to be laughable. Only the clueless or folks with an agenda deny that generally speaking, the top scholars can publish less than stellar scholarship and regurgitation of prior "hits" in the top law reviews. Moreover, to claim the system works is true...but it works for those linked in, members of "the club" who send articles of colleagues to AEs or EICs. No words need to be exchanged and the Editors are thrilled to have a paper referred from a home professor. It's a form of "letterhead" bias. Nothing more, nothing less. Let's not get derailed over semantics. Favors are exchanged where my friend at School A recs my paper to his/her home journal and I'll do the same for him/her. No guarantees but it generally is effective. Letterhead bias is absolutely critical in article selection.

Posted by: Guest | Apr 1, 2020 6:10:14 AM

Two quick questions:
1) What would you do with an offer from an unranked speciality journal? If it would be low-ranked, I would expedite to anything above, but is no-rank the same as low rank? I imagine that unranked speciality journals are likely to be perceived in the market more or less as other specialities from the same university?

2) Would you expedite off of an unranked journal to all the journals you submitted to (at this time in the cycle)? or wait and due it in stages (i.e. wait with the t50 in the hope that a better offer comes along and would be more likely to generate interest for an expedite)?

Posted by: Angster33 | Apr 1, 2020 3:35:55 AM

Axel Foley - you are missing the point. No one is saying that papers in top law reviews are bad. In fact, they are great. The problem is that there are papers that make a really important and innovative contribution, which are far better. If these papers don't stand a chance because of biased editors (however you call it "letterhead bias" or otherwise) there is a problem. Especially when getting into the top journals, by itself, increases the chance of getting accepted there again and again.
There are specifically two problems here:
1) You are disincentivizing the creation of innovative scholarship, because anyone who doesn't belong in the elite circle never has a shot, even if his/her paper is amazing. The top journals will just not contain the *best* papers.
2) You are encouraging older scholars to be lazy, because they know that anything they write is accepted without questions.

Otherwise, it is morally wrong to present the system as fair, where in fact it is rigged. As legal scholars, we are opposed to biases in public offerings or tenders - why has this become an acceptable practice in Law Reviews?

Posted by: AnnoyedAnon | Apr 1, 2020 3:30:43 AM

The law reviews do a great job. I read tons of scholarship and, seriously, better articles land in better law reviews. I know plenty of people who teach at lesser regarded tier 4 institutions with non-prestigious pedigrees who kill it on the law review market because they write great articles. I can also tell based on which of my articles do better that the students are generally scrutinizing scholarship on the merits. Does each law review give an unbiased treatment to each article? Of course not, but that's the beauty of the law review system; there's 50 law reviews in the top 50, which increases the chances of a fair publication. And when anonymous commentators attack fantastic scholars like Lemley, it REALLY comes off like sour grapes. And when posters cross examine the anon AEs to get them to admit to publishing only the most notable professors, it REALLY REALLY comes off like sour grapes. So again, this isn't a completely fair system--and some esteemed profs are able to publish stinkers in top law reviews--but the law reviews seem to be doing a pretty good at gauging quality.

Posted by: Axel Foley | Mar 31, 2020 10:58:13 PM

Any thoughts on Cardozo versus Utah? Also, more broadly, does it even matter around the edges like this?

Posted by: GratefulButAngsty | Mar 31, 2020 4:54:29 PM

My T6 law review has no auto expedite and I have never heard of such a system. We do have letterhead bias for sure.

AnonQuestion: It makes no difference. Even if they went to the same AE, they probably wouldn't even notice. If you have two articles ready I don't see any reason not to submit both.

Posted by: AnotherAnonAE | Mar 31, 2020 1:40:47 PM

Articles editors -- is it a bad idea to submit two articles in one cycle? Does this diminish the chance of one being accepted, or is it irrelevant because each will likely be assigned to a different initial editor? Is it a better idea to pace them -- submit one, and then submit the next if the journal has rejected the initial one? Thanks.

Posted by: AnonQuestion | Mar 31, 2020 9:57:33 AM

Would appreciate some thoughts: T15 online journal or 75-100 print journal for an article that's on the shorter side but on the cusp of online vs. print in terms of length (~10,000 words)? Thanks.

Posted by: anon3 | Mar 30, 2020 5:36:34 PM

Does anyone know if Notre Dame is full? I don't see any activity on the spreadsheet and in my experience, they don't seem to respond to expedite requests.

Posted by: notredame | Mar 30, 2020 1:52:17 PM

FWIW, I also agree that Hastings LJ pretty much beats any specialty journal.
Imho the fact they have introduced an element of peer/faculty-review is also an added plus.

Posted by: AboutHastingsLJ | Mar 30, 2020 12:29:12 PM

Thank you both for the input re: Hastings LJ over Yale specialty!

Posted by: specialty v flagship | Mar 30, 2020 12:10:35 PM

I appreciate everyone's comments and thought I ought to give as well as receive. My 2 cents regarding some recent thoughts / questions posted.

@Yale or Not: The Yale specialty. Even without knowing *which* specialty, I think that it makes sense on a CV to have a mix of general and specialty journal publications.

@specialty v flagship: Hastings. As a general rule I think at the level of Hastings LJ the flagships will beat the specialties almost every time.

Biases in placements: Of course there's letterhead bias but it's far from an insurmountable burden. I've published in T6 journals and T100+ journals and everywhere in between and I know that an objective measurement of "quality" is not what differentiated those placements. It is what is is...not a perfect system, but one that I think works pretty well.

Posted by: NewlyTenuredProf | Mar 30, 2020 9:20:54 AM

@allen -

Yes, my journal did read every single article submitted. Nevertheless, I imagine that any empirical literature that suggests that there are biases (including letterhead bias) in article selection is correct, because, as I previously stated, I believe that there is letterhead bias in article selection -- just less than what posters here typically assume.

Posted by: anon ae | Mar 30, 2020 7:14:00 AM

anon ae: So the empirical literature demonstrating the existence of letterhead bias (also, race/gender) is wrong? I mean, that is quite a statement. Was your journal able to read all of the submitted pieces and quality rank them? I'm very confused.

Posted by: allen | Mar 30, 2020 6:41:44 AM

@anon - I don't know what point you're trying to make. The fact of the matter is that we didn't look at cover letters or * footnotes, full stop, and we wouldn't have cared about them if we'd looked. We all had enough profs at our school who were clearly mailing it in (including "famous" profs) for us to not have any particular reverence for the relative caliber of the scholarship being produced at top law schools. When we selected articles written by HLS profs, it was because we liked those articles, not because they were submitted by HLS profs.

On quick review, I'm not actually sure we published an article written by a HLS prof in my year. We did, however, publish several articles by profs outside the USNWR top 50 as well as at least one practitioner. This doesn't actually prove my point, just as the opposite wouldn't disprove it: article selection without regard for letterhead may result in patterns, but those patterns just tell you something about the kind and quality of the articles being submitted by authors at various institutions. From my experience now in academia, not in a T50 institution mind you, and putting aside quality for a moment, there are material differences in the kinds of articles being written at different institutions: professors at schools like Kentucky are far more likely to write articles specific to Kentucky than professors at a school like Harvard--and, for better or for worse, T14 law journals tend to be reluctant about publishing 'regional'-seeming articles. There are a lot of factors that contribute to authors at T14 schools placing better, in the aggregate, than professors at T3 or T4 schools unrelated to letterhead bias.

Posted by: anon ae | Mar 29, 2020 11:24:19 PM

Two comments:

"Why Lemley can publish articles so easily. I read many pieces of his articles. The contents of many articles are quite repetitive."

Maybe, but more likely he has an army of research assistants and co-authors.

anon ae,

You may think you were simply selecting articles based on your ability to spot "good" articles, but take a look back at your volume. I bet you'll find a pretty small slice of the academy represented.

Posted by: anon | Mar 29, 2020 10:35:03 PM

Would you choose Gonzaga or a Yale specialty?

Posted by: Yale or not | Mar 29, 2020 9:57:33 PM

Why Lemley can publish articles so easily. I read many pieces of his articles. The contents of many articles are quite repetitive.

Posted by: anon9 | Mar 29, 2020 7:02:57 PM

anon -

First, I was very clear that I believe that there is letterhead bias. My point is that I think it has less of an impact than what most other posters here typically imply.

Second, letterhead bias is somewhat different from home school bias. I know for a fact that there are T20 schools that don't put weight on proxies like letterhead that DO follow practices that advantage profs from their institution (like automatically advancing such articles to later stages of review).

Third, a poster earlier on this thread noted that authors, especially senior authors, sometimes prefer to publish in their home-school law reviews. I am sure that some of the perceived home school favoritism is a result of author self selection.

Posted by: anon ae | Mar 29, 2020 5:30:58 PM

@anon ae

I want to believe you. But how do you explain Virginia LR having 25% of its articles between 2014-2018 authored by ... Virginia faculty?! NYU LR 20%, Chicago 17%...

Those are CRAZY numbers. There is no way in hell that a journal ends up with a quarter of its articles allocated to home faculty "by accident"

Posted by: anon | Mar 29, 2020 3:51:46 PM

I am also a relatively recent graduate of a T6 school, where I was an AE on our flagship law review. We did not have anything resembling a list of authors who were given preference in the process, nor did we rely on proxies in our decision making. Like other former AEs who have posted on this board, we believed (probably foolishly) in our own ability to select good articles. I am confident that letterhead bias exists in this process, but I suspect that it's less widespread or controlling than it is described to be. I'm saying that based on my experience as an AE, my knowledge of the process at several other top law journals, the numerous AEs who regularly contribute to these posts saying that their journal did not participate in the sorts of practices that we all hate here, and the fact that T20 journals regularly publish articles by authors without elite letterhead.

Posted by: anon ae | Mar 29, 2020 2:47:58 PM

"I am a relatively recent graduate and mentioned on here a couple of weeks ago that my T14 journal had a list of authors who were essentially given automatic expedites."

Everyone, I think, suspects this is happening. But it is good to hear directly. It only goes to show why placement just perpetuates the existing system, and that LR editors really decide based on proxies since they don't have any other real way to make a decision.

Posted by: anon | Mar 29, 2020 2:02:42 PM

anon7 - just to clarify:

I am a relatively recent graduate and mentioned on here a couple of weeks ago that my T14 journal had a list of authors who were essentially given automatic expedites. It seemed to cause a pretty big uproar about how unfair that is. I mentioned it initially because at the time there were some suggestions floating around that there was capital-c Corruption happening, and I was hoping to emphasize the point that, at least at my journal, that wasn't the problem, and I'd be shocked if it were the problem elsewhere. The problem is just letterhead/CV bias.

I apologize if I misread your post - it looked to me like you got the WashU offer on 2/28 and expedited from there to several places, while you had received several dings prior to that. In any event, you received several responses within the first 3-4 days of submission, including from journals that I have yet to hear back from nearly 40 days later with an expedite deadline from a T50 of 5 PM today. That's the point I was hoping to emphasize - there appears to be a broad practice of prioritizing not only offers, but the initial acts of reading and responding in a way that *must* be based at least in some way on CV/letterhead/name. (Another example is UCLA, which, for at least the second cycle in a row, has sent out a number of rejections saying that they are full, but have also left a number of submissions unresponded to? This is particular puzzling given the option on Scholastica to mass reject.)

As I said, I wasn't trying to call you out in any way. Personally, I've committed myself to following a similar path - I'm submitting every cycle and just working my way up.

Posted by: anon22 | Mar 29, 2020 11:26:53 AM

Anon22: in response to the "automatic expedite" suggestion - I have no idea if these journals have such a list, but wanted to provide some clarification on my end that may be helpful. All of the interest/offers I received this cycle (other than the Harvard vote) came after I expedited from my first offer. That said, a little background about my publication history may be helpful: I teach at a Top80ish ranked school, but have been teaching for 15 years. When I started out, I placed decently - always in the T50 and sometimes in the T25-35 range, but never in the T20. About five years or so ago (so ten years into my teaching/publishing experience), I got a T10 placement (I happen to think it was my best article to date at that point and reflected several years' of empirical research; I had also built a reputation in my field at that point, but there was certainly luck involved). After that, my placements definitely improved and I have often had multiple board reads at T15 journals and competing offers--many of them from journals that do blind review and that ask for peer review; I am also now regularly asked to do peer review for others' articles. (Whereas in my initial years of submitting, I almost always took the first offer I got -- and only occasionally had multiple offers). So I actually thought, based on my own experience, that there was a lot of truth to Axel Foley's earlier post suggesting that if you are at a lower ranked school, you can build a strong publication record over time. I'm not saying that automatic expedite lists don't exist (I know nothing about that), and I certainly think law review editors pay attention to authors' CVs and past placements, but I also think that folks at lower ranked schools do have opportunities to work their way up to top placements. (It is harder than if you start out at a higher ranked school, but not impossible).

I hope that's at least somewhat helpful information. Good luck to everyone who is still waiting to hear!

Posted by: anon7 | Mar 29, 2020 10:00:11 AM


Posted by: anon | Mar 29, 2020 8:37:26 AM

A particular iteration of an age-old question: Which should one choose if choosing between Hastings LJ and a Yale specialty? Thanks!

Posted by: specialty v flagship | Mar 29, 2020 3:03:06 AM

I feel very sad. ( T. T )

Posted by: Songyang | Mar 28, 2020 5:21:44 PM

The next time I hear from Berkeley Tech will be the first time I hear from them. But I know from others in the field that if they are interested in a piece they can be quite communicative.

Posted by: anon | Mar 28, 2020 4:30:56 PM

Maybe they are afraid that you commit yourself to another journal before they come up with a decision.

Posted by: Songyang | Mar 28, 2020 3:59:17 PM

What is the point of board review e-mail? Isn't it better just to get an e-mail when there is an actual decision?

Posted by: mango | Mar 28, 2020 3:24:32 PM

Any information from Berkeley Law & Tech? I expedited twice. Silence.

Posted by: Songyang | Mar 28, 2020 2:08:57 PM

@Covid angsting - my guess is we will have an explosion of new papers written by those who don't have kids so they spend their Covid-19 time writing (about the virus and about other stuff). In August, Journals will face an overdose of submitted papers and the whole process would be even worden than before.

Posted by: Angster33 | Mar 28, 2020 9:31:17 AM

I know there has been discussion of the impact of COVID-19 for hiring decisions, but are folks thinking about the impact for forthcoming scholarship? I'm beginning a new piece and can't help but question its importance given the pandemic. It seems like traditional legal issues sort of pale in the current context. On the other hand, I can't imagine law reviews will only want to publish about legal issues germane to the virus. Wondering others' thinking.

Posted by: COVID angsting | Mar 28, 2020 6:54:12 AM

"If you're a straight white male without an elite JD or PhD or fellowship, or particularly interesting work experience, and this is your first or second article,"

*cough* *cough*

Don't get me wrong. Subjectively, I am *MEGA HAPPY* with my T-40 publication offer. I just have to reconcile this feeling with my "mentors" (ie people who should/will write my reference letters) telling me that such a placement is "not really helpful" in my circumstances.

Nevertheless, considering all that is going (COVID), I have kind of grown numb to the whole journal placement thing...

Posted by: UCLA-Wait(no more); | Mar 27, 2020 3:39:14 PM

Hiring is so subject-area specific that it's difficult to say that any advice re publishing and the job market is universally bad (or good). If you're a straight white male without an elite JD or PhD or fellowship, or particularly interesting work experience, and this is your first or second article, and you're looking for a conlaw or adlaw job at a ranked school, I do think it's usually going to usually be very, very, very difficult without at least a T50 placement (or some sort of real connection to the school in question). On the other hand, if you're in any number of other public law-ish areas, it depends a lot on the year. Schools often do such narrow searches that there may only be 2-4 candidates who present a possible fit -- in which case, it totally depends on who those 2-4 candidates are (/ whether there are 2 in your year or 4).

Posted by: a non | Mar 27, 2020 2:26:27 PM

From the spreadsheet, I can see that I am in the 3/26 Upenn Law Review Kill wave but not in the 3/25 Gtown Law Journal Kill wave. Does that mean that my article is in the Gtown "maybe" list or they never bother to read it? I submitted it on Feb. 24th.

Posted by: Anon996 | Mar 27, 2020 1:49:23 PM

I agree. The "public law must be placed in T20-30 and private law in the T50" is only good advice if you want a top 20-30 job. If you are focused on getting any job, then you can be more accepting in terms of your placement.

Posted by: anon5 | Mar 27, 2020 1:32:02 PM

@UCLA-Wait(no more)

FWIW I have been on several hiring committees and your mentors are giving you bad advice -- unless you are dead set on working at a T20 school or something.

Posted by: TenureBro | Mar 27, 2020 12:55:39 PM


According to my "mentors"...the entry-level market does not reward anything outside T-20 placements in my field....especially because my profile is not especially "strong"...no top JD...no PhD...etc etc

Posted by: UCLA-Wait(no more) | Mar 27, 2020 12:11:16 PM

It was a 100+ journal.

Posted by: Adjunct | Mar 27, 2020 11:56:12 AM

“ This cycle has been brutal for me. I have a T-40 offer elapsing today....still fingers crossed...but not optimistic”

Isn’t T40 is a quite decent placement?

Posted by: New | Mar 27, 2020 11:50:45 AM

I'm the person who mentioned their T14 journal having an "automatic expedite" list for certain authors that seemed to cause a lot of uproar here. Just wanted to flag from anon7's list:


Boston University: submitted 2/20, dinged 2/22
California: submitted 2/20, dinged 2/23
Cornell: submitted 2/20, dinged 2/25
Yale: submitted 2/19, dinged 2/25
Wisconsin: submitted 2/20, dinged 2/26
Wake Forest: submitted 2/20, dinged 2/27
Duke: submitted 2/20, dinged 2/27
WashU: submitted 2/20, offer 2/28
Harvard: submitted 2/19, dinged 3/2 (after full body vote)
Northwestern: submitted 2/20, dinged 3/5 (after board read)


These submissions are well after mine, with decisions coming pre-expedite, per the post) at times weeks before mine. From the spreadsheet it seems like the timeframes I experienced are not uncommon.

I'm not saying anything about anon7, just wanted to make sure people understand that the journal I was talking about is not in any sense whatsoever an outlier.

Posted by: anon22 | Mar 27, 2020 11:14:01 AM


Thanks for sharing. I hope you are satisfied.

This cycle has been brutal for me. I have a T-40 offer elapsing today....still fingers crossed...but not optimistic

Posted by: UCLA-Wait(no more) | Mar 27, 2020 10:56:58 AM

In case it's helpful, this is how things went for me this year:

Boston University: submitted 2/20, dinged 2/22
California: submitted 2/20, dinged 2/23
Cornell: submitted 2/20, dinged 2/25
Yale: submitted 2/19, dinged 2/25
Wisconsin: submitted 2/20, dinged 2/26
Wake Forest: submitted 2/20, dinged 2/27
Duke: submitted 2/20, dinged 2/27
WashU: submitted 2/20, offer 2/28
Harvard: submitted 2/19, dinged 3/2 (after full body vote)
Northwestern: submitted 2/20, dinged 3/5 (after board read)

Expedited from 2/28 offer, and then learned of two T10 board reads and other early T5-15 interest; received two post-board-read rejections March 2 and 5; and received two T15 offers March 9-10. Had to let one T5 board review go because they could not complete review for a month and other offers wouldn't wait. Received another T10 offer March 14, with a 2-hour acceptance window. Accepted the T10 offer. Never heard from Pennsylvania, Virginia, Texas, Georgetown, USC, Notre Dame, Iowa, Emory, Minnesota, UC Irvine, GW, Alabama - although I withdrew pretty early from some of these.

Glad to be done – and I wish those still waiting to hear the best of luck! (And for what it is worth, in recent past cycles I have received excellent offers at the end of March and even in the second week of April – so do not give up hope!)

Posted by: anon7 | Mar 27, 2020 10:33:57 AM

Adjunct, what do you mean by lower ranked journals? 100+? 150+?

Posted by: sigh | Mar 26, 2020 10:55:45 PM

I began sending today to lower ranking journals, one told me they only begin review may second!

Posted by: Adjunct | Mar 26, 2020 9:41:48 PM


I have seen various comments on this on the blog but this is my first submission and wanted to ask people's thoughts about Cardozo Law Review: is its current placement (#52 US News) representative of its peer valuation? I have seen people discuss a dissonance between its placement and its peer reputation. Any input?

Posted by: Bump | Mar 26, 2020 8:59:57 PM

I fail to see why you would ever have an offer expire. The moment you know you’re not going to publish with the journal withdraw on the platform and send a kind thank you note. Don’t drag things out unnecessarily, just withdraw. If something does expire I would affirmatively communicate with editors so they know you’re not interested.

Posted by: Re: Expiring Deadlines | Mar 26, 2020 6:44:45 PM

Excuse me. A quick question. When the offer expires, would it be a good practice to write a thank you letter for the journal that grants me the offer? Or just let it expire? What is the standard practice of this kind of correspondence?

Posted by: AForeignJuniorProf | Mar 26, 2020 5:51:40 PM

I mean for anyone who already submitted - figured they might release the status of some submissions before May 1 since their exclusive window opened a few weeks ago.

Posted by: NWEmpirical | Mar 26, 2020 5:48:56 PM

UPenn Law Review Kill wave....

Posted by: UCLA-Wait(no more) | Mar 26, 2020 5:33:48 PM

NWempirical - if you are refering to the northwestern empirical issue, their deadline was postponed to May.

Posted by: Angster33 | Mar 26, 2020 5:28:16 PM

Anyone who submitted hear anything yet?

Posted by: NWEmpirical | Mar 26, 2020 3:23:35 PM

Anon2- look at the online companions (https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3341802).
Also some print edition journals publish essays (e.g. YLJ).

Posted by: Angster33 | Mar 26, 2020 2:09:51 PM

I have a short essay that I would like to submit. Is there a place that lists journals that are suited for shorter essays? I am new to this process and would appreciate any guidance. Thanks.

Posted by: Anon2 | Mar 25, 2020 7:22:36 PM

"Yes COVID-19 could make it harder for some junior faculty going up for tenure real soon, but only those outside the T14."

How so - why only those outside the T14?

Posted by: Q | Mar 25, 2020 11:19:56 AM

anon, thanks for that tweet. Hilarious that I submitted to Columbia 6 weeks ago and haven't heard anything if they're still processing as usual. This is such a fun process.

Posted by: Thisiscrazy | Mar 25, 2020 10:58:35 AM

I see some Geo. L.J. rejections on the spreadsheet. Did they indicate that they're finished for this cycle?

Posted by: Georgetown | Mar 25, 2020 9:47:29 AM

Columbia claims to still be open...


Posted by: anon | Mar 25, 2020 9:37:36 AM


I suggest that you use these two tools:

1) Areheart's 10-year historical chart based on US News

2) Newell's meta-ranking

Posted by: UCLA-Wait(no more) | Mar 24, 2020 3:42:42 PM

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