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Thursday, October 20, 2016

Luther on Placing Your First Law Review Article

From TaxProf Blog, I learned of this essay by Robert Luther III on the art of submitting law review articles for publication. Here is the abstract:

Many law reviews are only open to the top 10% of the class or to students who excel in a writing competition. While a high percentage of law schools now have at least one journal in addition to the law review, the reality is that well over half of the students enrolled in law school today do not have the opportunity to serve as a law review or journal staff member. Without that experience, those students-turned-lawyers who wish to publish legal scholarship after graduation are left in the dark about where to begin the process. I was one of those individuals, but over the last eight years, I have regularly published legal scholarship. Recently, my former students and other young attorneys have started asking me for advice. This essay — directed at emerging scholars who seek to publish their scholarship shortly after entering the legal profession — is a compilation of the advice I have shared.
The essay is a quick read, and I recommend checking it out. Luther devotes a bit too much space to the simple issue of submitting a curriculum vitae and cover letter (it could be shortened to: submit both and expect that neither will be read, let alone subjected to letterhead analysis). Additionally, tip number five on requesting expedited review is presented as though authors need to write a letter or email for each request -- which is generally not the case, as the submission websites ExpressO and Scholastica make the process almost entirely automatic.

For those in a hurry, I suggest following the one simple rule of: buy Eugene Volokh's Academic Legal Writing and do everything he tells you. It worked for me.

As for tips that I would add to Luther's essay, here are a few that came to mind:
  • If you are not currently in law school or a legal academic employed by a law school, start a savings account for the outrageous amount of money you will need to spend on submitting articles through Scholastica and ExpressO. ExpressO submissions are $3.10 each, and Scholastica costs $5.00 per submission. Authors hoping to cast a wide net (a description that probably applies to most people submitting for the first time) will find that these submission costs add up very fast.
  • On a related note, to push back against Luther's advisement against publishing while still in law school, students should take note that most law schools will pay all submission fees through their institutional account. While many schools may be reluctant to publish scholarship by student authors, students with access to unlimited free submissions can sent articles to so many journals that they may be lucky enough to find the exception.
  • While on the subject of student scholarship, students should consider submitting shorter pieces as essays or to online law review supplements. Those publications are more likely to be published without a "note" or "comment" label that Luther describes as a "scarlet letter" that frightens away those who would otherwise cite the article. You can find an excellent list of online law review supplements and their rankings here.
  • Avoid using overly complicated technical legal terms and submit something that is fun, or at least easy, to read.
  • Read and re-read Luther's ninth tip on coauthoring. It is very good advice that I don't see often enough in books or articles on this subject.
In short, students and practitioners should write, submit, and publish scholarship. Parts of the process can be tedious and time consuming, but it is ultimately a rewarding undertaking.

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