Wednesday, December 10, 2003

Law Review Publishing

Professor Bainbridge asks:
Would I be more likely to place an article in Harvard or Yale if the bluebooking was perfect or would the editors figure they would have nothing to do and reject the article? I remain unsure, unfortunately, because Harvard and Yale have rejected everything I've ever submitted to them - no matter how well or poorly it was bluebooked (as has UCLA, but that's a story for another day). Surely it can't be the substance ... can it?
It probably is the substance. From what I can tell, Bainbridge writes articles that are actually about law. And not just about law, but on a boring and unsexy topic -- corporate law -- rather than about an exciting subject like constitutional law. This alone can be disqualifying at a top law review. If the typical law review editor has to choose between a piece on a subject that affects millions of people's lives (i.e., ERISA), and a piece on a subject of virtually no consequence to anyone's life (i.e., flag-burning laws, postmodernist theories of law-and-econ), the editor will usually go for the latter. During one of the years that I was an editor of the Harvard Law Review, we collectively managed to 1) reject a superb article on preemption that went on to win a national prize for the best paper by a new law professor, and 2) publish an article on cyberspace that literally had nothing to do with the law.


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