You just completed your latest legal scholarship article, and you’re ready to have it published. Now the question is—which law reviews would be the best fit? And how can you maximize the chances of your article being accepted by one of your top choices?
Even for the most seasoned legal scholars, law review submissions can be daunting. There’s a lot to think about when managing submissions to multiple law reviews—from choosing journals to target, to tracking which law reviews have made a decision on your article, to knowing when to make expedite requests.
Thankfully, there are some definite best practices you can follow to get a leg up in the great submissions race. As the most-used law review submissions and article selection platform, working with the majority of the top 150 law reviews and most leading specialty law reviews, we’ve garnered many submission season insights from editors and authors over the years. In this post, we share our top law review submission tips to improve your chances of publication and save precious time.
The first tip we have to increase your chances of article placement is to know when most law reviews are actively working to fill their next volumes and to aim to submit during those times. There is no hard science behind when to submit to law reviews. However, our historical submission season data does point to two peak times:
- August through October
- February through April
During these months, we’ve historically seen the majority of submissions received and the majority of decisions made. Submitting within one of these peak timeframes may help your chances of publication because a high percentage of journals are actively reviewing articles.
That said, we’ve found that law reviews open and close throughout the year depending on where they are in their editorial cycle. Additionally, many law reviews open submissions for symposium and special issues throughout the year. So if you have an article ready and it’s not a peak submission time, you still have a good chance of getting an offer! Be sure to check for open law reviews. We have a few easy ways to help you do this without going down search rabbit holes:
- Sign up for daily law review opening update emails here
- Track updates on Twitter using the hashtag #LRSubmissions
- Check the automatically updating table of open and closed law reviews on the Law Review Author Submissions Center website
Additionally, be sure to follow law review updates on The Conversation. Many law reviews post when they need more articles to fill their volume or when they’re soliciting submissions on a particular topic for an upcoming symposium or special issue.
If you’re submitting to law reviews offseason, we recommend checking their websites for any updates on if/when they’ll be actively reviewing new articles. If it’s unclear from a law review’s website whether the editors are actively reviewing submissions, you can always reach out to them directly to ask.
This may go without saying, but before you start submitting to law reviews you should take some time to come up with a submissions strategy. Start by determining the top 3 to 5 journals that you think will offer you the best professional advantages and be the best fit for your article. This will give you greater focus in your submissions efforts.
When making your target law reviews list, think about your article placement goals from all angles. Your primary focus may be getting placed in a journal that will stand out in your tenure application or it may be getting placed in a journal that will give your article the most visibility and engagement possible—depending on the nature of your article these two goals may not be mutually exclusive. Once you have a top group of journals you’re aiming for, you can start looking for additional journals to submit to that would be relevant alternatives.
In the process of identifying the best law reviews to submit to, you’ll likely have taken a step back from your article, which makes it the ideal time to give it one last look to make sure it’s in peak shape before pressing the submit button. Of course, you’ll want to make sure that your article is clean without any typos, grammatical errors, or formatting errors. When you’re reviewing your article with fresh eyes, try to also look at it from the perspective of someone unfamiliar with the topic. Specifically, focus on the title, abstract, and introduction. These are the first things editors will look at, so you want to be sure they’re attention-grabbing and that they quickly and succinctly communicate the arguments of your paper. Additionally, consider the framing of your article in relation to current events and highlight what’s most timely about it when applicable. For example, if your article is about one of the most-talked-about but least published law topics, let editors know!
One submission step that we can’t stress enough is to check your article citations—and then check them again! Law review editors are hyper-vigilant of citations and will flag areas of your article that they think require additional references or any references that appear incomplete. So make sure all of your legal assertions have citations and that you don’t have any missing citation details.
In an interview former chief articles editor at UCLA Law Review, Franco Muzzio, noted that missing citations information can result in rejection, even for the most promising articles. “We’ll get some articles that will just say ‘add citation, add citation’ throughout,” he said. “Sometimes they’re really novel and interesting, but we get the impression from those articles that the authors are going to be difficult to work with […] so we don’t end up offering them publication.”
Before you send your submissions forth, make sure that you are following each law review’s submission guidelines and preferences. This includes adhering to each law review’s article formatting requirements and sending your article via each law review’s preferred submission method. You don’t want a law review to automatically reject your submission because it doesn’t adhere to their article-length requirements or to miss your article because you sent it via an email address or submission system the editors aren’t checking.
Let’s start with article formatting requirements. What should you look for? The big three are:
- Article length requirements: Many law reviews have hard article-length requirements. For example, Stanford Law Review states on its website that they have a “word limit of 30,000 words (including footnotes), and a preference for 25,000 words or fewer.” Check for such requirements and stick to them!
- Style guidelines: Check for any article style guidelines on each law reviews’ For Authors page. The main thing to keep in mind is citation style. Most law reviews will expect the citations in your article to conform to The Bluebook. Some law reviews may also require authors to take additional steps, such as anonymizing all article files. This is required by Stanford Law Review.
- Cover letter: Check to see if the law reviews you’re submitting to require cover letters and be sure to submit one if asked. An eye-catching cover letter could help pull your submission to the top of the pile.
Next, check the preferred submission method for each of your chosen law reviews to ensure that you’re sending your article to the right place. You can see all of the law reviews that only accept submissions and manage article selection via Scholastica in our recently updated blog post, “Where Law Reviews Accept Submissions: An ongoing list,” which includes a list of every general and specialty law review using only Scholastica. As of the last update, 150 law reviews are using only Scholastica for submissions and article selection.
Throughout the submission process, you may have questions for law review editors or you may want to send them an updated file. This is totally normal and editors will expect it. In this case, just be sure that you are using each law review’s preferred communication method. For law reviews using Scholastica that’s easy—use the Discussions feature. Your Discussion message will go directly to the law review’s editors and be stored next to your submission, so editors know exactly which article it’s about. Editors receive notifications for all new Scholastica Discussion messages, so they’ll be less likely to fall through the cracks than emails.
When working with law reviews that use Scholastica, be sure to also make all of your decision responses and expedite requests via the system. The benefits of this are twofold: first your communication will be more likely to be seen, and second, you’ll be making editors’ lives easier by helping them keep all of their law review work in one place.
Remember that you can also save time by communicating with law reviews in bulk via Scholastica. You have the option to send Discussion messages, decision responses, or expedite requests to multiple journals at once, as explained in the “Communicating” section of the Law Author Guide.
Another quick tip: try to keep your emails brief and get straight to the point. Make your subject lines clear and state the aim of your email in the first sentence. Editors are swarmed with emails during submission season and it’s easy to overlook questions if they’re buried in lengthy emails.
Another key submission area is expedite requests. It’s important to know when it’s worth submitting an expedite request and when to hold back. First, for a quick overview, expedite requests are when you notify one or more of your preferred law reviews that your article has received an offer from another journal and ask them to send you an article decision before your response to that offer is due.
Expedite requests can help to push your article higher up the submissions pile at some law reviews, but you must use them strategically. If you’re going for a top law review, make sure you wait to submit an expedite to that journal until you have an offer from a similarly ranked publication. Also, when making expedite requests, be sure that you actually have an offer on the table. Don’t make any assumptions based on your article going to full board review. While a strong indicator that your article may be accepted, full board review is not a guarantee of acceptance so most law reviews will not grant expedites in this situation and may be put off by such requests.
Finally, don’t forget to take advantage of the submission resources at your disposal! We’ve developed some great free guides and tools for law authors.
Be sure to check out The Scholastica Law Review Submissions Center. Here you’ll have access to:
- Submission pro tips
- Law review submission data insights
- An automatically updating table of open and closed law reviews
Also, remember to follow #LRSubmissions on Twitter for law review opening alerts and submissions updates and tips.
If you have any Scholastica-specific submission questions, you’ll find answers to them in our handy Law Author Guide. And, if there’s anything you’re unsure of, just reach out to our team at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’re here to help!