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There is opportunity to publish student papers outside your own law school's law review. It can be a lengthy and frustrating process because the competition to publish is very stiff, but if you feel that you have a unique piece that adds to the dialogue of the discipline, it may be worth your time to submit your work to other legal publishers. Without question, publication of your work gives you an advantage in the job market.
The most frequent publishers of student work are law reviews and journals. Submission requirements vary considerably, but there are a variety of resources that can assist you to allow the best possible opportunity for publication. Following are some general considerations as you prepare to submit your work. These tips were compiled from the resources listed under Helpful Tips and Links, mostly written by professors and law review editors. These materials can help give you the edge in your submissions.
Unlike other disciplines, with law articles it is not uncommon to submit to multiple publishers at a time. Some journals allow electronic submission, and some require paper submissions. Use some of the resources listed below to make yourself familiar with the journals' submission requirements regarding format, electronic or paper requirements, and multiple submission rules.
August to October and March to April are the most productive times of the year to submit materials for publication. Editorial boards are generally unavailable over the summer, and upon return to school, they usually make their selections before the end of October. Consequently, summer months and October through February, editors are less likely to be reviewing articles, and they tend to sit in a backlog for long periods, at which point they are likely to be discarded. Back to top
In this venue, there is no rough draft. You should submit your materials in their final draft form, including footnotes. If your footnotes are sloppy, you have already lost the battle in the competition for a publishing spot. Submissions should include a one-page cover letter that briefly discusses how your article is novel and useful.
The articles should be accompanied by a cover letter. The cover letter gives a synopsis of the article and why it matters, explains what makes it a unique work, and supplies background information where it may be useful. Samples are available in Volokh's Academic Legal Writing.
The discussion about whether or not your cover letter should identify you as a student is ongoing. Professor Volokh recommends that you do not identify yourself as a student. While you would never lie about your status, you need not draw attention to the fact that you are not an academic. Some law review editors have weighed in to say that if an author has not submitted any information about their affiliation and qualifications, they either assume the piece is written by a student or find it necessary to contact the author and ask for it, which can be annoying. Back to top
Deciding where to submit your article
Article submissions are usually driven by journal rankings. Rankings are based on the number of times a journal is cited, prominence of its contributing authors, and prestige of the associated law school. Though it is generally agreed that the rankings in U.S. News & World Report are flawed, the information does provide a notion of a school's reputation. Some of the submission web sites below also have tools to allow authors to calculate means of evaluating journals before submission.
Successful student authors and publishers warn that you may have to submit your article to over a hundred reviews and journals. Some recommendations are to start at the top, but most find it helpful to begin with those reviews ranked thirty to fifty. If you get a positive response, you can send your article to the higher-ranked titles and ask for an expedited review, letting them know that you already have received an offer to publish.
It is generally considered that the main law review of a law school publishes only pieces from professors and students on that law review. While this is not always the case, it is more difficult to get your article published in a law school's main law review. Chances of having your submission reviewed and accepted for publication increase if you look to a law school's specialty law reviews. You can usually tell the main law review from the specialty law review by its title: Yale Law Journal, as opposed to Yale Law and Policy Review.
Peer-reviewed journals are gaining some prominence in the publishing field. Articles submitted to peer-review journals are forwarded to volunteer reviewers, usually law faculty at various institutions, to offer input. Often such journals focus on a particular area of the law or look for a particular social science methodology. These journals may offer better opportunities for student authors as they are less likely to disregard an article purely for the fact that it is written by a student. However, many do not accept electronic submission.
Another consideration is whether the journals to which you are submitting your article are available in places where scholars will find, and hopefully cite to, their contents. Deanna Barmakian at Harvard Law School recommends you ask yourself these questions:
There are web sites that facilitate submission of articles to multiple journals. Most maintain current contact information and submission rules. These are low cost or free services. For those journals that do not accept electronic submission, check their web site or use Ulrich's International Periodical Directory or Directory of Law Reviews and Scholarly Legal Periodicals to learn their requirements. Specialty and peer-review journals are more likely to fall into this category. You should review the instructions to authors at any site that you use so that you are aware of any limitations.
Top 25 journals may prefer that you submit electronically through their web pages because their software has been developed to pull specific information into reports to allow them easier tracking of submissions, though developments in software are making submissions to these reviews through electronic submission services possible. Other journals allow electronic submission only from select sources, and some require paper submissions. It is necessary for authors to be familiar with each journal's requirements.
A low cost submission service from the Berkeley Electronic Press, nearly 800 law journals in print currently accept submissions via ExpressO. An electronic submission costs around $2.00/journal, and for those journals that require paper submission, ExpressO staff will print and mail copies for a fee of $6.50/journal.
There are some journals that have lifted their restrictions on electronic submission to include only those articles submitted through ExpressO. Note, however, that some blog entries (mostly from student law review editors) have hinted that one of the drawbacks of ExpressO is that it has a poor relationship with top publishers because their software programs do not integrate. ExpressO identifies those titles in their database so that you may decide whether to submit directly. See Author FAQs.
This web site does not submit articles, but it facilitates article submission (including online journals) by collecting links and information for electronic submission. It also allows sorting by journal rank, calculates impact-factor, which shows the average number of citations to articles in each journal, and computes cites per cost (average yearly number of cites to a journal divided by its annual cost). Journals may be limited by peer-edited, refereed, and specialized titles. This site offers a lot of options. Be sure to check out the information pages to ensure an understanding of the service.
SSRN's eSubmission is a free service allowing you to submit a paper to over 300 law reviews that allow electronic submission. The eSubmission service allows users to send customized messages to each journal, and to submit to different journals at different times. To use eSubmission, you must first include your paper or an abstract of your paper in the SSRN eLibrary.
This resource lists editorial address, contact information, and frequency of U.S.-based, scholarly publications that accept unsolicited submissions, including: law reviews and subject-specialized law journals from ABA-accredited law schools; peer-reviewed law journals; selected trade journals; and most university presses. Available in print in REFERENCE KF 8 .D574.
A print resource not specific to law, Ulrich's describes international periodicals in all disciplines and includes newspapers, bar journals, and trades. Coverage usually provides a description, contact information, circulation figures, abstracting and indexing services, and publishers' web sites. Available in paper at WORKROOM Z 6941 .U51. Ask at the Circulation Desk.
There are a number of very useful online and print resources that supply excellent tips and online links for article submissions. We strongly recommend that you visit them to help you produce the strongest product you can and increase your opportunity to publish your work.
This web site serves as an annotated bibliography for basic submission questions.
This site collects links to law review directories, writing tips, and article submission services.
Eugene Volokh, Academic Legal Writing: Law Review Articles, Student Notes, Seminar Papers, and Getting on Law Review (4th ed., Foundation Press 2010) Reserve KF 250.V65 2010 (older editions in Treatises Room).
An excellent resource for getting papers published, this book is cited in many of the web sites above. In addition to tips for selecting and improving topics, Volokh gives hints for improving writing, using evidence, cite-checking, working with editors, excellent submission assistance, and there is a section specifically written for the editors of law reviews. The appendices include a listing of clumsy words, sample cover letters, and exercises and answers. The author also has a blog for advice to law students on publishing their student work.
Elizabeth Fajans and Mary R. Falk, Scholarly Writing for Law Students : Seminar Papers, Law Review Notes, and Law Review Competition (4th ed., West 2011) KF 250 .F35 2011
Discussion of choosing a topic and writing a polished paper, research, and cite-checking, there is also a section for law review editors on scoring competition papers, selecting articles, and editing. There is a sample case note and competition paper, exercises, and a listing of scholarly writing workshops and seminars.
The book walks students through a five-step process for researching and writing scholarly papers and follows five published student papers from idea to final execution as a method of illustrating the principles advocated in the text. Back to top
Jerold H. Israel, The Seven Habits of a Highly Effective Scholar, 102 Mich. L. Rev. 1701 (2004).
A tribute to Yale Kamisar describing his "modus operandi," this has suggestions for all writers. Back to top
Debra Kaufman, Writing Research Results for Publication, 84 l. Libr. J. 617 (1992).
The author is a former editorial assistant for Law Library Journal. Her article discusses what makes a manuscript publishable and provides numerous tips on the publication process.
William R. Slomanson, Legal Scholarship Blueprint, 50 J. Legal Educ. 431 (2000).
This article includes questions and advice to help beginning writers develop a scholarly plan.
Don't be put off by the title of this page, "Cite-Checking and Library Research." While it does address these functions, the site contains extremely valuable information for editors and law review staff.
Terri LeClercq, The Nuts and Bolts of Article Criteria and Selection, 30 Stetson L. Rev. 437 (2000).
This article offers advice to law review editors on the selection of articles and the process that is involved. Back to top
Helpful web sites for efficient cite-checking.
In the UW Libraries Catalog, which contains the holdings of the Law Library as well as Coe Library and other UW libraries, you can search by author, title, or keyword. For more succinct searches, try selecting the Advanced Search option as it allows greater flexibility in combining terms. The link provided directs you to a search of just the Law Library collection. To search other UW Libraries, use the drop down menu.
Sponsored by the UW Libraries, Prospector is a document delivery service, sharing resources between UW Libraries and a number of Colorado libraries. Materials can be requested electronically from this site and are delivered to Coe Library within two to three days. You will receive an email when the items are ready to pick up.
For loans from other libraries, including books, articles, and selected media, you can talk with Susan Wozny at our Circulation Desk. She will need bibliographic information to identify the materials you need, and then she can initiate your request. Susan will contact you when the materials arrive. This process can take a week to ten days before the items are received.
From our homepage, select the Databases link. Under "W" choose Worldcat. Worldcat is a listing of materials treated in OCLC, the largest cataloging database in the world. You can search by author, title, and keyword, and once you have identified the title, you may also link to the libraries that own the materials.
Gallagher's site covers internet archived materials, cached pages, persistent URLs, and Bluebook rules regarding these sites.
Volokh, Fajans and Falk in their treatises above all include sections specific to law review boards. The Fajans text gives special attention to law review editors, the process of selecting articles, editing student and faculty works, writing constructive comments, and exercises with answers to assist in training the law review staff. Back to top
Below is a list of web sites that collect links to various legal writing competitions for students. Many of these competitions offer cash awards to winning entries, and some include travel to annual meetings and an opportunity to present or publish your work. Cash prizes vary from $100 up to $10,000. Entering a writing competition does not necessarily require producing a new work. In many cases, papers students have written for classes meet the requirements to enter these contests, or the papers can be reworked to qualify.
Some of these web sites have competitions dating back a few years, so pay attention to the deadlines. Also note that while the deadline for entry may have passed, some of these competitions are annual. If you find a competition that you would like to enter, it may be worth a new internet search to find requirements for the current year.