Friday, March 24, 2017

Dirty Little Secrets (of Law Review Publishing)

The vast majority of law review articles are written by law professors and professor-wannabes.  And among this group, prestige is the most important thing when placing an article.  Many professors admit that few people will ever read their writing, but their colleagues will read their CVs.  Therefore, a publication in the Duke Law Journal means an article is really good, the Washington Law Review means it's okay, the Hastings Law Journal means it barely earns a passing grade, and anything below that, well, many professors believe their work is better left unpublished than to associate it with journals of schools ranked below 60 in the US News & World Report.

This approach is quite different from the approach I and other lawyers use when writing law review articles.  My goal, for example, is to find a journal with a good editing policy that will get my work into the hands of my colleagues and (in some cases) in front of judges as soon as possible.  (All else being equal, I do have my own preferences as to journal name, page layout, and even cover design.)  But when prestige is the only goal, bizarre things start to happen.  For example, professors will submit their articles to journals in which they would never publish, just to get an offer of publication so they can shop their article (and the offer) to better journals, a/k/a the "expedited review" process.  Many profs will also submit their article to their own students (who are editors of their own school's law review) in order to get that first offer -- talk about undue influence.  And some authors have even fabricated an offer out of whole cloth so they can "fake expedite" to other journals -- let's hope none of these authors are teaching legal ethics.  

If any of this sounds remotely interesting, you can read about it and other shady business -- including the staggering submission costs involved in publishing an article -- in my new Essay, Law Review Publishing: Thoughts on Mass Submissions, Expedited Review, and Potential Reform, 16 New Hampshire L. Rev. __ (forthcoming 2017).

No comments:

Post a Comment