Since spring of 2021, Scholastica has been reaching out to outgoing law review editors to ask them to share insights they gained during their tenure with incoming e-boards and submitting authors. In the past, we’ve kept it to the general questions: 1) What’s your top piece of advice to help authors submitting to law reviews improve their chances of getting published? and 2) What’s your top piece of advice to help incoming law review editors hit the ground running?
This year we wanted to change things up a bit. So we asked outgoing editors to take a close-up lens look at the submission criteria they consider essential to ensure the quality of articles and then zoom out to their predictions for the future of the legal scholarship cycle.
Below, we share outgoing editors’ responses to the questions:
- When it comes to submission criteria, which do you think are most important for law reviews to have/authors to follow and why?
- What are your top predictions for the future of the legal scholarship cycle?
We hope this blog series provides valuable insights you can apply during the next submission season! Many thanks to all of the outgoing editors who contributed!
When it comes to submission criteria, which do you think are most important for law reviews to have/authors to follow and why?
When it comes to submission criteria, I think the most important thing is for law reviews to have well-written, objective legal articles. Refined legal writing is the thing that separates law reviews from other law school publications.
Next, I think law reviews should encompass a variety of legal topics. With the exception of a symposium, each law review issue should cover various legal practice areas to prevent the publication from being mundane. And lastly, articles should be current, thought provoking, and feature hot topics like circuit-split decisions when possible — that helps make the publication feel fresh and relevant!
Authors need to be brief, though not without exception. Many article submissions we receive could be condensed without detracting from the quality of the piece, and many submissions seemingly include gratuitous citations, especially string cites to a secondary authority.
Twenty thousand words is generally ample space to make genuine contributions to the field, but many submissions approach or exceed thirty thousand words. As a result, our capacity to publish more pieces of scholarship (equally worthy of publication) is diminished, impeding our goal of disseminating legal scholarship.
The most important submission criteria is that an article is interesting and well-written. That’s a subjective standard, but it is what we look for.
I will also note that authors submitting to smaller law reviews should be willing to consider our offers. Otherwise, it’s wasting everyone’s time.
Submit your article as if it will be published tomorrow — i.e., clean it up before submitting. Spelling, grammar, writing flow, and footnotes are all things that can make or break a paper when it comes to choosing articles.
The most important criterion, besides a piece’s preparation, is that it advances legal scholarship. A piece should bring a novel perspective or assertion and not reiterate or re-encapsulate things that have already been said.
I found that the two most important criteria are citation formatting and footnote support. If an article has proper Bluebook formatting and provides necessary citations to support assertions, it makes it much more efficient for our journal to edit the article. Submissions that meet these two criteria are more likely to receive a publication offer from us (although the content is the first and most important criterion we examine)!
What are your top predictions for the future of the legal scholarship cycle (i.e., how do you think article submission, review, and publishing processes will change)?
In the coming years, I think article review and the publishing process will be completely online. Since the pandemic, many law reviews have switched to a 100% virtual publishing process, which I don’t think they’ll veer away from.
I think more law reviews will move towards anonymized submissions and discard the practice of submitting CVs and (frankly, unhelpful) cover letters. This may require greater diligence by editors in the article selection process, but it will contribute to the publication of quality scholarship. It’s the content of the submission rather than the reputation or credentials of the author that matters most.
I think submissions and published articles will continue to shorten in length.
I think the semesters will become more and more lopsided, with more articles submitted during the spring. In the fall, there are fewer articles, fewer offers, and more acceptances by authors, so fewer authors see offers overall. In contrast, in the spring there are more submissions, and many authors decline offers, so more authors see offers, leading to increased submissions because they think their chances are better.
I think and hope that scholarship can move away from a seasonal print cycle and possibly towards a rolling, digital format, so quality scholarship doesn’t get forgotten by virtue of the arbitrary schedules law reviews follow. I would also like to see more automation in law review, where software can vet the baseline requirements of every piece received, such as grammar or proper citation, and save editors lots of time.
I believe that the future of legal scholarship publication will increasingly become more stringent. As the year went on, our journal’s procurement process began involving more and more editors to perform author background checks, citation-checking, and content review. With so much information available online, including that of the authors and the legal topics they are addressing, it has become easier (albeit time-consuming) to perform in-depth reviews of articles and authors.
Want more submission season insights from past editors? Check out the inaugural advice from outgoing law review editors 2021 series here and the 2022 edition here. Thanks again to all of the editors who took the time to share their experiences!