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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. Most journals allow electronic submission through online services. Use some of the resources listed below to make yourself familiar with the journals' submission requirements regarding format and submission rules.
August and February to March 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. The articles may sit in a backlog for long periods, at which point they are likely to be discarded. Back to top
Journals submission standards tend to require double-spaced documents, though some specify triple spacing and endnoting. Articles should be Bluebooked properly and in standard-type font (Times New Roman, 12 point, and footnotes in either 12 or 10 point). One statistic indicated that 90% of the journals require Bluebook format and those that do not require it will accept it. It continues to be the standard in the field. Published authors and some law review editors indicate that articles submitted in book or journal page formatting are acceptable and have certain advantages. This format entails editing the document so that it looks like a book page from a law review. There is an electronic template for this at Professor Volokh's Academic Legal Writing web site.
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 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.
Successful student authors and publishers warn that you may have to submit your article to a number of reviews and journals. Some recommendations are to start with top-ranked journals, but most find it helpful to begin with those reviews ranked thirty to fifty. However, the number of law reviews and journals that accept submissions from law students outside their own schools is limited. See the chart in the Appendix of the article Submission of Law Student Articles for Publication, by Nancy Levit, et al., at https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1656395.
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, some of these journals may 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. Check the following resources to see where specific journals are available.
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 to learn their submission 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.
Scholastica is a submission service for law review articles. The submission cost is $6.50/journal submission.
This web site is not a submission service, 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.
SSRN is a collaborative of authors devoted to rapid dissemination of social science research, including legal scholarship. SSRN allows users to distribute working papers and published articles and track how many times the article is viewed. When you submit a new work to SSRN for publication, you may also select to have the abstract published in one of SSRN’s abstract eJournals. An eJournal is an email sent to subscribers containing abstracts of papers recently submitted. Each paper displays a title, author, and abstract of the paper along with a link to download the full text paper.
Uploading your pre-published article to SSRN can make it available to student editors checking SSRN for articles of interest. If you choose to upload your article to SSRN, consider networking to raise interest in your work.
While copyright belongs to the creator, when articles are accepted for publication, authors sign over their rights to the publisher. Authors can retain rights in their work, but it may require some negotiation with the publisher at the time that an offer is accepted. Unless you retain certain rights, you cannot distribute or even post a copy of your work without publisher permission. The coalition SPARC (Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition) is a leading voice in assisting authors to retain their rights. SPARC’s web site discusses how to review your publication agreement and negotiate with the publisher. Here you may link to an Author Addendum that modifies the publisher’s agreement and allows you to keep key rights to your articles. Or you may choose to use the Scholar’s Copyright Addendum Engine to generate a customized addendum to your publisher’s contract.
If you would like to post your work in an open access repository such as SSRN or SelectedWorks but you are not certain whether you have retained the rights to do so, you can search your publisher’s policies on Sherpa/Romeo to learn of that publisher’s usual policies regarding copyright. If you are still not certain, you may decide not to risk posting the article. However, if it is already available online through one of the library databases, you may still list the bibliographic information in the repository and link out to it.
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.
OnlineMarian Gould Gallagher Law Library, University of Washington School of Law
This web site serves as an annotated bibliography for basic submission questions.
Eugene Volokh, Academic Legal Writing: Law Review Articles, Student Notes, Seminar Papers, and Getting on Law Review (5th ed., Foundation Press 2016) Reserve KF 250.V65 2016 (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 article topics, Volokh gives hints for improving writing, using evidence, cite-checking, working with editors, and submission assistance. The appendices include a listing of clumsy words, sample cover letters, and exercises and answers.
Elizabeth Fajans and Mary R. Falk, Scholarly Writing for Law Students: Seminar Papers, Law Review Notes, and Law Review Competition (5th ed., West 2017) KF 250 .F35 2017
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 are sample papers such as case notes and competition papers, exercises, and a listing of scholarly writing workshops and seminars.
Jessica L. Wherry and Kristen E. Murray, Scholarly Writing: Ideas, Examples, and Execution (3d ed. 2019). Reserve KF 250 .C528 2019
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
Leah M. Christensen & Julie A. Oseid, Navigating the Law Review Article Selection Process: an Empirical Study of Those with All the Power—Student Editors, 59 S.C. L. Rev. 175 (2007).
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
Nancy Levit, Scholarship Advice for New Law Professors in the Electronic Age, 16 Widener L.J. 947 (2007).
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.
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.
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
Retrieving Cited Sources
To retrieve paper sources:
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 the University of Wyoming campus 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.
Preparing your law review staff for their editing job
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