Now's the time to make a law review training plan

It may seem like only yesterday that you and fellow editors were competing in your law review’s write-on, but before you know it you’ll be passing on the torch to the next executive editorial board. When it comes time for those new editors to take over, you’ll want to make sure that they have all the information they need for a smooth transition. The best way to help your new editors get on track fast is to make a law review training plan.

We understand that you and your team are up to your ears in journal duties, school, work, and outside activities, so composing a training plan right now may not sound doable. But don’t let your team be the law review that waits till the last minute to make a board transition plan (or worse, the law review that doesn’t have a transition plan). Why? Trying in February to retroactively map out your article selection process will be a lot harder, we assure you! Whereas, if you start planning for your next board now, it will be much easier to document everything about your editorial processes that your next board will need to know.

In this blog post we share steps you can take to start preparing for your law review board transition.

Document your editorial process as you go including how you handle outlier situations

The best time to document your law review’s editorial process is while you’re still in the midst of it. We know this may sound like extra work, but it doesn’t have to be. Keep in mind, you don’t have to write new editors a textbook-style manual - they’ll do just as well if you give them a comprehensive bulleted outline of article selection steps. In your outline, be sure to explain interactions between the different editorial positions. Clearly map out how submissions move from review to acceptance, edits, production, publication, and dissemination, and which editors are involved in each phase. You can do this in written instructions and, if you like, you can also visualize the process with a flow chart. You may find this exercise useful to help your current team stay aligned as well!

Key aspects of your editorial process that you’ll want to break down for new editors include:

  • How you handle new submissions - Who do they go to first? How are editors assigned to read them?
  • How you review submissions - In what format do editors review submissions? How do articles move to full board review?
  • Your process for making publication decisions - How is it organized? Who is involved? How are decisions made?
  • How you communicate publication decisions to authors - Are there existing acceptance and rejection letter templates? What has your board learned from accepting and rejecting article submissions?
  • Your process for author communication - What is your system for receiving and responding to author emails?
  • How you handle expedite requests - How do you determine whether to honor an expedite request? What do you tell the expediting author?
  • Your editing process - How are staff editors assigned to accepted articles? What does the editing process entail? How many rounds of revisions do articles generally go through?

It’s a good idea to also offer new editors some examples of how your board handled outlier situations, such as an author agreeing to your publication offer but then backing out last minute, or your e-board being evenly split on whether or not to accept a submission. Your team can write quick memos of how you handled such situations and add them to a shared Google Drive or Dropbox folder.

Get internally organized for a smooth law review handoff

In addition to mapping out your law review’s article selection process, so your next board has the information they need to get started, it’s important for your current editors to do some prep work internally to make for a smooth transition. Steps you’ll need to take include:

Make sure new editors have access to your Scholastica account

If you use Scholastica you can easily invite new editors to your journal before your board transition occurs. Unlike other systems, every editor can have their own login on Scholastica so you don’t have to worry about passing on shared account information.

For journals using Scholastica, one thing you will need to do as you’re transitioning is have your admin editor transfer his or her administrator role to the successor. To do this your admin editor should: Click My Journals > click the Settings tab > select an editor from the pull-down menu in the “Transfer Journal Admin Rights” box > click “Transfer Admin Rights” and you’re all set!

Set a date to clear out old submissions

First we want to start out by saying that we highly recommend your law review send rejection letters for all submissions as soon as you’ve made a decision. However, we realize sometimes law reviews get swamped trying to get out their next issue and never end up sending rejection letters, or sometimes boards inherit backlog submissions from years ago. In either event, it’s easy to clear out submissions in bulk on Scholastica and we recommend you set a deadline to do this before your new board arrives.

If you still have articles from the current submission cycle that you’re not publishing, you can reject them in bulk using the Quick Reject feature. Just enable the Quick Reject feature, set up a rejection template email, select the manuscripts you want to reject and confirm to send. If you don’t want to notify authors of these rejections (i.e. you are rejecting manuscripts that are a few months or even years old), just uncheck the box that says “send authors this decision by email” before completing the Quick Reject action.

Share any additional login credentials or internal process documents

When transitioning your law review board it’s important to consider all aspects of your law review process. You may have login credentials or process documents that you need to pass on. Don’t forget about those.

Do you have social media accounts? You’ll need to hand off that login information so your next board can continue to maintain them. Do you have a point of contact or process for updating your publication website? Be sure to share that information too. Additionally, if you have internal process documents your team uses to stay organized give your new editors access to them so they don’t have to start from scratch.

Consider how the timing of your board’s transition will impact the next volume’s submissions

If your law review board isn’t transitioning until late in the Spring you should be aware that there may be less authors submitting articles at that time. If you want to give your new board the best opportunity to fill their volume, you should consider helping them get started accepting submissions earlier - like in Mid-February.

Make time to review your process with your new board in person - Scholastica can help!

Even with a written account of your law review’s process, new editors will likely have lots of questions as they get started. Rather than trying to address all of them via back and forth emails, it’s a good idea to set up a formal training time to walk through your process. Scholastica can help with this! We offer free trainings to all law review boards to help get new editors logged in and comfortable with how everything in Scholastica works. Just reach out to us when you’re ready to set up a training for your new board and we’ll take it from there.

Decide if you want to enroll in Scholastica Plus

Have you checked out Scholastica Plus? If you haven’t yet, now’s the time! Scholastica Plus is a new program to help law reviews improve their article selection process and get decisions to authors faster. Law reviews that enroll in Scholastica Plus will have custom reports of their journal’s data as well as regular access to the Scholastica team and our knowledge from working with hundreds of law reviews of all sizes. Since building custom Scholastica Plus reports to benchmark a board’s progress against that of a past board requires some data-gathering and preparation, interested law reviews should sign up to learn more before the hectic period of board transitions and article selection begins.

Use and reuse your new law review training plan

Once your training plan is complete, it’s time to start putting it to use. Make training materials available to your new board as soon as possible to give them ample time to get acquainted with the law review. Also, be sure to remind your next board to save and update the training plan you gave them for future board transitions. You’ll be doing future boards a big favor when it comes time for them to hand off your journal to a new set of editors!