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Saturday, July 25, 2020

Submission Angsting Fall 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, but please be patient.)

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

Posted by Sarah Lawsky on July 25, 2020 at 02:48 PM in Law Review Review | Permalink


Tea leaves interpretation request: Just heard from a T14 journal that they are happy to grant my expedite request and will be in touch by my deadline. (Next Monday). Thoughts on this? Is it dumb to feel a tiny bit of hope?

Posted by: anonymouse | Aug 12, 2020 11:28:29 AM

anon | Aug 12, 2020 9:23:17 AM - Thank you! I won't give up hope *yet*.

Posted by: NewbieProf | Aug 12, 2020 11:15:46 AM

Assoc. Prof.,

I don’t think the “inside baseball” aspect of publishing would deter a practitioner from publishing. We lawyers don’t care where an article gets published. I often (but not always) seek the “best” journal, but it really doesn’t matter where it lands. My colleagues will read my articles based on whether the topic is of interest, not where I publish it.

I think the costs are a problem. Personally, I have a nice law practice and don’t need to worry about costs, even when I have three articles as I do this cycle. But even still, I think to myself: as a matter of principle, why am I spending this kind of money? I do feel like I’m being ripped off, for sure. But I'll probably keep writing, as long as the ideas keep coming to me (which they probably will as long as I keep practicing).

Other than reducing costs, I’m not sure how to get more lawyers writing. It may not happen as very few of us (that I know of) are interested in writing, and fewer still have the time for it.

Finally, a related thought: I think the ONLINE law review is a fantastic format for those few lawyers who are interested in writing. Because those journals prefer shorter articles and limited footnotes, we can express thoughts and ideas more freely. There’s no need to track down a source for every single claim. While I sort of (weirdly) like footnotes, I have concluded that most are unnecessary. I remember a specialty journal – I think at NYU – once put on its website that “we abhor footnotes.” That’s not exactly the view of the online journals, but they certainly don’t demand as many footnotes as the print journals. This would probably appeal to most practitioners.

Posted by: Michael Cicchini | Aug 12, 2020 11:09:05 AM

@AnotherAnon - you are proving my point. You also use words like "tend to" or "probably". Even if it were true that HYS graduates/faculty are better on average (which is a big if!) why not just read the paper and judge its quality? There is no missing information here that forces journals to use proxies other than an overload of work. They just need to "read the damn paper".

Posted by: PostDocGuy | Aug 12, 2020 11:00:05 AM


All the way up. In the fall, always all the way up.

Posted by: thegreatdisappointment | Aug 12, 2020 10:55:30 AM

Unfortunately @PostDocGuy the problem with your hypo is that in the real world the HLS alum would probably write a better paper regardless of innate "ability" (which I don't really think is a thing honestly) because that person would have had the benefit of HLS education including observing HLS faculty and possibly getting their support and feedback. What I have observed is that people with certain pedigrees get more attention and feedback and the end result is that they write better papers because of that attention and feedback. And they get better jobs. And the cycle continues. I have friends at elite schools. I have friends at non-elite schools. The people at elite schools tend to have lighter teaching loads and committee work, giving them more time for scholarship leading to... Better papers. So path dependency is real and where you went to school and where you teach are more than just signals to editors, they also can affect the time you have to write and the quality of feedback that you get. Can people beat the odds? Of course. We all love the idea of an underdog or a diamond in the rough. But sadly whereas B might have brilliant ideas, the lack of time to write and mentorship would have an effect. The reality is that established writers probably write better papers...

Posted by: AnotherAnon | Aug 12, 2020 10:49:16 AM

Someone asked a similar question already, but I'm going to put some tighter parameters around it and just flat-out ask, "If you had an offer from Penn State L Rev, would you expedite all the way up the ranks, or _____________?"

Posted by: Anna Nimmus | Aug 12, 2020 10:47:25 AM

Hi - when I lectured about withdrawing from journals you would not accept, I neglected the important preface -- "After you have an offer in pocket, ...." Those who responded that the expedite game is a necessary, if lamentable, ritual were exactly right. My apologies. But once you have that offer, please do the right thing, even if it takes a couple of clicks, and allow others the chance.

Posted by: anoooon | Aug 12, 2020 9:52:08 AM

Michael C. - your comments are well taken. And I wish there were more practitioner voices for law reviews; it would provide a nice insight to the students of how legal scholarship connects to real-world legal problems. I bet they enjoy working on your articles. I worry, though, that people like yourself are increasingly unicorns due to (1) the cost of Scholastica and (2) the increasing "inside baseball" game of the law review submissions process that is the subject of this forum. When I started writing 5-6 years ago in practice, it was much more affordable to submit to law journals. Scholastica is another barrier to entry for those practitioners who lack a subsidized account. All of which is to say: keep up the good work! I would welcome your insight on how to remove barriers to entry for practitioner-scholars like yourself.

Posted by: Assoc. Prof | Aug 12, 2020 9:51:51 AM

Newbieprof - sorry about the rejection. But no, it doesn't mean that! I published in a T3 journal one time in my career, 2-3 years ago. That article was rejected by many T100 journals! And overall actually only had one other acceptance, from a specialty. So you just never know.

Posted by: anon | Aug 12, 2020 9:23:17 AM

Another first-timer here. Got a rejection from a law journal in the T100-T150 W&L range. Does that mean I shouldn't expect any offers from any higher-ranked journals?

Posted by: NewbieProf | Aug 12, 2020 9:03:03 AM

anon @ 11:36:16 PM - Are you saying that Stanford sometimes skips the peer review process when there's a T10 expedite? or is that just a guess that some journals do that? I've never heard of it...

Posted by: anon | Aug 12, 2020 7:57:28 AM

@ Michael Cicchini - adding to the discussion, the problem in my view is not that success yields success but rather that the goal of publishing is (or at least should be) to disseminate new knowledge. Unless established writers are the only one capable of doing so, there is a problem. Especially because of the inertia.
As an example, suppose that A and B are twins and have the same abilities. However, A can afford to go to Harvard while B can't. Suppose they both write papers with the same quality and submit during their first cycle. Student editors from Harvard see that A went to Harvard and thus accept his paper. B's paper (of the same quality) doesn't place. B uses the time to improve his paper (expecting this to be the problem), but A has time to write another paper. Now A has "Harvard Law Review" on his CV so he easily places his second article. B gets an offer from a t100 flagship.
The years pass, A sees that his papers are easily published and thus doesn't even bother innovating that much. B improves and writes groundbreaking papers.
The cycle comes. A gets an offer for his boring paper which is just enough for tenure. B is still struggling with adjunct positions, because he never got a piece in the Harvard Law Review.
Meanwhile, B's important articles aren't disseminated - everyone loses, except for A.

Posted by: PostDocGuy | Aug 12, 2020 2:09:08 AM

@FirstTimeAuthor, anon, and others

Even as an outsider / practitioner, I would have to agree with anon that the publishing system is NOT corrupt. (Although I’m sure there are a few bad apples, e.g., fake expediters, and some practices that should stop, e.g., submitting to one’s own students.) Rather, I think it’s just a prestige-driven system. But so is the legal academy generally. Most profs got their jobs in the first place because of where they went to school, not because of what they accomplished for their clients. So profs shouldn’t complain that other profs with better letterhead have an “unfair” advantage in journal placements. Those profs were just able to ride the prestige factor a little bit further, e.g., they not only rode their elite JD into a teaching position, but they got a teaching position at, say, Virginia, and then rode THAT name brand into better publications (including at Virginia L Rev). They just took it a step further. They just stacked another floor onto the apartment building of prestige that is the legal academy.

As for anon’s comment about prof writing v. practitioner writing, I don’t really pay attention to the occupation of the authors I cite when I write, so I suppose I can’t disagree on the whole. But don’t be discouraged, @FirstTimeAuthor. As a practitioner, I’ve placed in several journals in the USN 20s and 30s before. I’ve also received comments from journal editors across the USN spectrum, telling me how grateful they were not to have to read yet another professor-written article. The articles where I’ve been most "successful" are those that provide a solution to a real legal problem — not just “this is what the law should be,” but also “here’s how the lawyer can successfully advocate within the current system.” You won’t have any problems landing a well-written article, and I think anon and greatdissapointment are right that we’re still very early in this cycle. I just got a good offer Sunday, not off of an expedite. (I don't operate anonymously, but I keep my offering journals anonymous until my season is over.) Things haven’t even begun to heat up this cycle. Remember, some people are sitting on multiple offers, and once they accept one, they will release the others and more offers will be made. Good luck! And if you (@FirstTimeAuthor) want to discuss further, go to my website and email me directly. But don't be discouraged. It feels like forever, but the season is young. As the British say, "we've barely gotten our trousers off" this submission season.

Posted by: Michael Cicchini | Aug 12, 2020 12:35:45 AM

I understand that many in academia are used to getting immediate and effusive recognition. Alas, the submission game - especially if you are trying to place in a respected journal - is heartbreaking for most. I don't think it's corrupt, though. That's going too far. Just remember, the most viable alternative is a pure peer-review system and that has just as many problems.

However, I agree that our system is not necessarily fair. For example, there is far too much letterhead bias even in a "blind" peer review processes; established authors just get an offer from prestigious journals that don't do peer review and then use that offer to bypass blind peer review (e.g. get an offer from Virginia Law Review based on reputation and then use that to bypass Stanford's blind peer review). I also agree that it's still early this cycle so there's no need to despair or panic. Hold your article until Spring if you don't place well this cycle.

One final thing, I'm a professor not a practitioner, though I did practice for a number of years before coming to academia. In my experience, the quality of writing and insight between practitioner articles and professor articles is significant. I think law review editors notice the discrepancy and this may explain the placement difficulties practitioners encounter. Also, practitioners spend a lot of time talking about what the law is and that really isn't what journals are seeking; descriptive articles are better suited for treatises.

Posted by: anon | Aug 11, 2020 11:36:16 PM

@FirstTimeAuthor. It is a frustrating process but hang in there and try again if it doesn't work out. Get feedback and improve the article and try again in spring when there are more spots. I think something that gets lost in these conversations about how corrupt and unfair the submission process is is the reality that writing a good law review article is hard and requires skill. I have certainly gotten better at it in the 10 or so years that I have been doing it and my outcomes reflect that. (Of course, quality and placement do not always correlate but that is a different issue.) If writing law review articles was easy, being a law professor would not pay nearly as well as it does. And again, placing in the fall is substantially harder than placing in the spring. In February there will be a whole new board of editors to read your paper.

Posted by: AnotherAnon | Aug 11, 2020 10:11:54 PM


I understand. The worst case scenario is you strike out this cycle. And if it makes you feel better, I struck out my first two cycles. And I'm sure everybody on here has at least one "strike out" story.

So, it happens. It's super disappointing when it happens. But it's not even the middle of August yet. Some authors aren't even going to *start* submitting until August 15. This cycle will likely continue through September, so you've got plenty of time, friend.

Just don't let your self-worth get tied up in this. Chances are your article is good and it's publishable and it will find its way into print.

Posted by: thegreatdisappointment | Aug 11, 2020 10:03:21 PM


Thank for your information. I just feel like a shit after getting multiple rejections and feeling that the ones in silence are just throwing my piece into the garbage then fail to hit the rejection buttom because they just forget the title.

Posted by: FirstTimeAuthor | Aug 11, 2020 9:41:03 PM

Eh. This is a numbers game and the more irons you got in the fire, the more chances you got at getting the expedite and and getting into the expedite pipeline.

You may only get one or two acceptances in a cycle, especially as a first-time or junior scholar and there's really no way of knowing which journal is going to give you the acceptances.

I don't think you should hold multiple acceptances so if you've got multiple acceptances, you should let the ones go that you aren't going to accept.

But as far as withdrawing from places that you wouldn't accept...it doesn't make sense. The whole process--especially if you're junior, don't have the letterhead, or aren't a prof--is about using lower ranked journals to move up.

Don't limit your opportunities to get into the pipeline. This system is corrupt beyond imagination. For example, profs are submitting to their own schools, getting their students to 'accept' their articles so that they jump into the expedite pipeline.

So in a corrupt system, don't saddle yourself with some random morality that nobody else is following. Get yours and get out. That's what everyone else is doing.

Posted by: thegreatdisappointment | Aug 11, 2020 9:29:09 PM


Here, 105 submittions, 12 rejections, 0 acceptance.

Posted by: FirstTimeAuthor | Aug 11, 2020 9:15:42 PM

I submitted to ~100 journals on August 1. To date, I have had no acceptances and only a handful of rejections. Anyone else in the same boat? Is it time to panic?

Posted by: angsty | Aug 11, 2020 8:39:29 PM

PSA: If you have a pending application to a journal that you know you will immediately reject, be a good person and withdraw. Help out your fellow applicant. I just withdrew from 13 submissions, and I am hoping that karma will pay me back. Even if it doesn't, it makes me feel less like a shit.

Posted by: anooon | Aug 11, 2020 6:57:44 PM

anon1234567 - If you are waiting to hear from a journal and others have received rejections, it could also be good news and mean that your piece is getting second looks by journals. So, not necessarily a different track. So hard to know.

Posted by: anon | Aug 11, 2020 3:44:06 PM

@Anon89 Thanks for your clarification.

Posted by: anon1234567 | Aug 11, 2020 3:35:48 PM

@anon1234567 I should add that some other journals care much more explicitly about the author's prestige, and basically use that as a proxy for quality. That seems to be less true at the very top journals, whose editors are (rightly or wrongly) more confident in their own ability to judge a piece's intrinsic merit. Hence why some journals request CVs and others do not.

Posted by: anon89 | Aug 11, 2020 3:31:07 PM

@anon1234567: I'm sure it varies by journal. When I was an articles ed. almost 10 years ago, at a T3 journal, there were no separate tracks. In theory, we reviewed articles as they came in. But individual editors naturally tended to read first those submissions that struck them as most exciting (based on title, subject matter, etc.). There was also some attempt to read more quickly those submissions that we thought we might to lose to another journal's exploding offer. Both of these considerations favor established authors, who (1) have more experience with getting AEs excited, and (2) are more likely to be assumed to be a hot commodity, whether or not they actually are. There's also some pure luck--some AEs are just slower than others, and your submission might have been assigned to someone with a bigger backlog.

Posted by: Anon89 | Aug 11, 2020 3:27:18 PM

Do these law reviews have a fast track for established scholars and a slow track for new authors. It is hard to understand why I submitted my piece earlier than some of the other submissions in the spreadsheet. They got decisions earlier than I do. How do law reviews operate?

Posted by: anon1234567 | Aug 11, 2020 3:13:31 PM

There seem to be blank sheets. Make sure that you are in the correct tab at the bottom.

Posted by: AnotherAnon | Aug 11, 2020 1:05:00 PM

Did the spreadsheet entries disappear for anyone else?

Posted by: anon | Aug 11, 2020 1:01:11 PM

Congratulations! I'd expedite all the way up. Too few spots in August cycle to be more strategic.

Posted by: anoooon | Aug 11, 2020 12:29:15 PM

Hi! I got an offer from a T60-70 general law review. Should I expedite all the way to the top?

Posted by: newprof | Aug 11, 2020 12:18:11 PM

@rookie - my experience is that *most* journals never reply nor acknowledge receiving your paper, perhaps not even with expedite requests. As one example, I have one paper submitted last cycle via ExpressO that, until this very day, has 89(!) submissions with no response.

Posted by: anon2020 | Aug 11, 2020 12:16:11 PM


many times they just never respond. a few years ago, I'd say I received replies from 75-80% of journals one way or another.

the last two years, I'd say it's down to maybe 65%

Posted by: thegreatdisappointment | Aug 11, 2020 11:48:18 AM

Hi y'all! I am new in the submission business. I have one question: Do you always receive notification if a submitted paper is not being considered for publication? Or do they simply never respond to a submission?

Posted by: rookie | Aug 11, 2020 11:46:39 AM

thanks for the responses!
@anon | Aug 11, 2020 11:05:46 AM:
I had the same issue with ExpressO. I wrote their customer support and turns out the journal did send a detailed offer, which I just didn't receive. Try writing them, they answer quickly

Posted by: PostDocGuy | Aug 11, 2020 11:30:01 AM

I think it's important to note that there's no universal (or even, in my experience, particularly widespread) consensus about what "counts" on the market publication-wise, and even if there were, "counting" isn't a binary. Ceteris paribus, more publications is better than fewer, because it shows a commitment to scholarship. And even shorter or less ambitions pieces may catch an interviewer's attention and give you something to talk about in an interview.

So, if the tradeoff is between online-only piece and publishing the same piece in a good print journal, I might lean toward print journal, although it would depend on the exact journals at issue. But if the tradeoff is between an online-only piece and simply not having that additional publication, then definitely do the online-only piece, so long as you genuinely believe that the work is good enough to publish at all.

Posted by: A. Nonymous | Aug 11, 2020 11:06:59 AM

Many law reviews accept email submissions and I have gotten offers from them. there is an SSRN article that compiles this info. Some law reviews take your email submission and put it on Scholastica- a few have done that to me. I often will email to save on costs.

I don't know what is going on with Expresso. I got an offer which I never was emailed about. And I have no idea if the journals on there are even active. Some are not, according to the SSRN article so if paying for your own submissions confirm on the schools website whether they are even accepting on expresso. some have it on expresso but say they aren't accepting so expresso does not seem up to date.

Posted by: anon | Aug 11, 2020 11:05:46 AM

PostDocGuy -

Counterproductive? No (except insofar as there's a big opportunity cost). I also don't think it's likely to be particularly productive; online law reviews aren't generally "counted" as publications for purposes of tenure-track hiring, and that's going to be doubly true if this is the online supplement to a specialty journal.

The only exception to this I can think of is if you're potentially going on the market with an emphasis on a niche field in which you haven't previously written (but that dovetails with your research). Say, for example, you're a contracts person but you're also planning on going on the market for privacy law. If you publish an online article squarely on privacy law in the Cal tech journal (I can't remember the name), that'd probably help, not because it gives you another publication or an impressive resume line, but because it shows that you're actively engaged in that set of issues.

Posted by: a non | Aug 11, 2020 10:55:30 AM

I know this has been asked in some form before, but can anyone explain how the market views publications in online companions? I have a short piece that thematically fits nicely in a special issue of an online companion of a specialty journal (not HYS, but also not low-ranked). Will publishing a paper this way be counter-productive for a scholar seeking a tenure track position? (Assuming that the scholar has a couple of other decent publications)

Posted by: PostDocGuy | Aug 11, 2020 10:40:47 AM

Thank you, @Songyang! Though I certainly don't feel like I have any such understanding!!

Posted by: babs | Aug 11, 2020 10:30:45 AM


No wonder that you got superb results in this cycle. You must have deep understanding of this business.

Posted by: Songyang | Aug 11, 2020 10:01:41 AM

That sounds implausible.
My e-mail address has a ".edu" but I also feel that my article was filterd out. I submitted the article on Aug. 1st to 120 journals. Till now, I only got 9 responses.

Posted by: AFirstTimer | Aug 11, 2020 9:54:57 AM

@Consipracy - I was a T14 flagship editor not too long ago and I assure you that this did not happen.

Posted by: babs | Aug 11, 2020 9:52:53 AM

That strikes me as pretty implausible.

Posted by: anoooon | Aug 11, 2020 7:49:29 AM

Any thoughts on whether the following conspiracy theory is true:
"Student editors have algorithms that filter out emails from addresses that don't end with .edu"?

Posted by: Consipracy | Aug 11, 2020 4:39:59 AM

So, an expedite question. Let's say you get an offer from journal x, and its deadline is date y. You get all excited and do the expedite thing. And then you get an offer from an equivalently ranked journal with the same deadline. Is there any value to re-expediting? I mean, deadline is the same and journal is in the same band, so my instinct is no. But is this some missed opportunity? Thank you so much -- don't know how I could manage without this supportive community, honestly.

Posted by: anonymouse | Aug 10, 2020 11:21:40 PM

Congratulations! You expedite, informing other schools of your window, and you hope. And if nothing else comes in, you accept.

Posted by: anonymouse | Aug 10, 2020 10:53:25 PM

So I got my first acceptance with a 7 day window. Stupid question but - how do I respond?

Posted by: First Timer | Aug 10, 2020 10:40:36 PM

Crim Speech:

It's happened for me a few times. Always a little disconcerting.

Posted by: thegreatdisappointment | Aug 10, 2020 9:18:45 PM

Quick rejection is not the worst situation. They seem to simply ignore my piece.

Posted by: FirstTimeAuthor | Aug 10, 2020 8:55:57 PM

On a related note, what’s up with Hawai’i? Maybe it’s just me, but they seem awfully quick to reject.

Posted by: MaskedProf | Aug 10, 2020 8:47:27 PM

CrimSpeech - I had the same thing happen! Nebraska and Hawaii. Any thoughts on what it means?

Posted by: Emailer | Aug 10, 2020 7:27:59 PM

@Crim Speech Do you mind sharing which journal it was? I submitted to several journals via email and worry that my submission has been lost or ignored. But I'm self-financing my submissions so I've had to be very selective as to which journals I submit via Scholastica and which I submit via email.

Posted by: Yet Another First Timer | Aug 10, 2020 7:25:08 PM

Has anyone heard of board reviews at NYU, Chicago, Vandy, Georgetown?

Posted by: anonymouse | Aug 10, 2020 6:59:19 PM

This was a first:
Submitted to a journal by direct email.
They uploaded the paper to scholastica for the board review

Posted by: Crim Speech | Aug 10, 2020 6:45:36 PM

I have to disagree with the view that publication in a specialty journal suggests lower quality. While I prefer flagships, some articles are just not suited for them. I’m thinking international and corporate topics mostly. Most flagships are just on balanced not very interested in this material. If you’re a corporate prof, it is not unusual to publish frequently in the corporate journals.

Posted by: Anon | Aug 10, 2020 6:22:14 PM

@newbie_author - I don't think we have good data on this question, so let me provide only some anecdotes (providing a mixed picture):
1) I know of one journal to which I submitted via ExpressO last cycle, which told me later they actually closed the account there and never read my paper.
2) My ratio of submissions to answers (offers / rejections) on ExpressO is very low, i.e. most journals don't answer at all. In Scholastica it's much better.
2) Yet, I did get offers on ExpressO, including during this cycle. But consider that the journals listed on ExpressO are usually not the t50, so it might be generally easier on average to get an offer there.

Posted by: PostDocGuy | Aug 10, 2020 2:43:19 PM

Could someone with actual knowledge clarify--I saw some comment about ExpressO being bad to use because law rev's don't even bother to check submissions from it. Is that true, or just someone being snarky? Is Scholastica that much more respected for whatever reason? As a private payer, I prefer ExpressO (because cheaper!), but am I really losing out if I use that instead of Scholastica? I hate how much of this feels like a (really expensive) game with inscrutable rules...

Posted by: newbie_author | Aug 10, 2020 1:33:31 PM

Gotcha, anon1234. Congrats on all your offers!

Posted by: MaskedProf | Aug 10, 2020 11:54:55 AM

@MaskedProf I could not get an extension as long as I needed.

Posted by: anon1234 | Aug 10, 2020 11:48:57 AM

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