My Experiences with the August 2022 Law Review Submission Window
I generally avoid the August submission window, but this year, I had two time-sensitive pieces that could not wait until the February window: (1) a co-authored piece with Dean Laura Norris recapping our experience with the Tech Edge JD program after 4 years, and (2) a piece on the applicability of the Zauderer precedent to the editorial transparency laws adopted around the country, spurred by the NetChoice v. Florida AG 11th Circuit decision in May and Justice Alito’s disturbing dissent (also in May) in the Supreme Court appeal of the NetChoice v. Paxton 5th Circuit decision. This post rounds up my experiences with the August 2022 window and offers some possible implications.
The TEJD Piece
This piece does not fit the typical specs for student-run law review submissions. First, it was 7,800 words, which is simply too short for many journals. Second, the topic is Santa Clara Law-specific, so students at other law schools might view it as irrelevant to them. Third, it is not a doctrinal “law” piece, it’s a “legal education” piece, and those can be harder to place. It might have been a good fit for the Journal of Legal Education, but it requires exclusive submissions. We did not finish the draft in time to ensure an answer before the August window closed, and we could not risk missing the August window or the article’s data would grow stale and potentially require substantial updates.
Because it was not a guaranteed fit for the law reviews, we cast a wide net to find the right journal that would appreciate this important, but unusual, piece. Some statistics:
Journals submitted to: 130, the bulk on July 29 and another tranche on August 1
Number of offers: 2
Date of first offer: August 20
Number of journals that never responded: 93 (71%)
Winning journal: Marquette IP Law Review (we accepted September 6)
Why: The other offer was from one of our home journals. Dean Norris and I carefully considered how that would affect the article’s credibility. We decided that an external placement enhanced its credibility. Of course, it was a bonus that it was the Marquette IP Law Review given my connections to the journal when I was at Marquette (now over 16 years ago…).
The Zauderer Piece
This piece was 8,400 words–again, way too short for most law reviews. However, this is a good length for many of their online complements, and a placement in one of those would serve my purposes. The online complements remain a challenge for authors to navigate; they all have different lengths and areas of emphasis, and many accept submissions only by email, not through Scholastica.
This piece also had two placement advantages: (1) it’s a Conlaw piece (unusual for me), which can resonate with students more than other topics, and (2) it was a hot topic, both in terms of rapidly changing developments as well as the “Big Tech” angle.
On the downside, this piece could not wait until February. There is active litigation and legislation in this area, including an imminent Supreme Court cert petition in NetChoice v. FLA and a high likelihood of cert being granted. Depending on what happens with that case, there’s a non-trivial risk of a Supreme Court decision this term that would necessitate a rewrite. I want this piece to help the Supreme Court decide the NetChoice case, not have that decision moot the piece.
I finished the draft on August 11, and it was not as polished as my normal submissions. I had not run the work through any workshops, I would have preferred to do one more comprehensive edit before sending it out, and I didn’t have time to catch all of the typos. Surely it would have been better if I had completed the article by August 1 or before, rather than sending it out by August 11. However, that wasn’t possible in this case.
Journals submitted to: 77, a higher number than I would have submitted to on August 1 because I knew I was so late in the process and journals were already shutting their windows.
Number of offers: 4
Date of first offer: August 20
Number of journals that never responded: 51 (66%). I did multiple expedites, which may have helped boost the response rate.
Winning journal: Iowa Law Review Online (I accepted September 8)
Why: I liked all of the journals who offered the piece. The Iowa Law Review Online had the best combination of reputation and production schedule timeliness.
Scholastica Problems #1: Scholastica isn’t the complete universe of law reviews. There are dozens or hundreds of other journals not represented there, some of which may be better homes for the piece compared to the journals in Scholastica. I encourage everyone to always consider non-Scholastica submission options.
Scholastica Problems #2: It’s not always easy to tell on Scholastica when a piece is clearly outside the journal’s scope such that submitting is a waste of time and money. The journals don’t always keep their specs up-to-date on Scholastica, the data lives in several places on Scholastica and may not be consistent across those places, and journals may have additional or clearer instructions on their website that they don’t communicate on Scholastica. I was especially careful with the Zauderer piece to research which homes might welcome it, and yet I still designated a few journals where it was an instant reject. Scholastica gets paid for these submissions either way, but it’s not a good author experience to spend the money only to find out it was never a potential match.
Scholastica Problems #3: Scholastica doesn’t control whether or not journals respond to the author, but it’s a terrible author experience when journals ghost us. We pay Scholastica for a service and, when we get ghosted, we get nothing in return. Collectively, about 70% of the journals I submitted to never responded, even after expedites. It’s in Scholastica’s interests to work with the journals to improve the communication with authors.
[Note: Scholastica discussed problems #2 and #3 in this 2019 blog post.]
Scholastica Problems #4: Of the six offers total I received this cycle, only 2 came from Scholastica submissions. The other four came from submissions I made directly to the journals. The higher batting average outside Scholastica is not a new phenomenon for me, but I haven’t figured out why I feel like I get reduced batting averages in the Scholastica mosh pit. It may just be a function of the high competition on Scholastica, or perhaps I’m not optimizing the Scholastica interfaces as well as other authors. This is another reason why I prefer to bypass Scholastica whenever I can.
[Note: on balance, I’m glad we have a submission tool like Scholastica. But, like any tool, it’s not perfect.]
The August Window Really Starts in July. Stanford Law Review ruffled some feathers (and created some DEI issues) when it said that it would accept pieces only through mid-July, moving up the deadline for anyone hoping to submit to them. (My Zauderer piece might have been a good fit for their online complement, but I simply couldn’t finish it by then). When I submitted the TEJD piece on July 29, many of the less highly ranked journals were already open. By the time I submitted the Zauderer piece on August 11, some places had already stopped taking submissions. I started getting “we’re closed for the year” rejections around August 15. The “August” window used to be called the “Fall” window, but that window is substantially closed by the end of August.
FWIW, one of my colleagues submitted on August 23 and told me that “about 2/3 of the top 30 and 1/2 or more of the top 50 journals were closed.”
The August Window Is Already Tricky. A fair number of the top journals are filling up their yearly slots in the February window and skipping the August window entirely. Others are allocating a supermajority of spots to the February window, leaving only a small number of spots for much steeper competition in August. So overall, the batting averages are likely to be higher in the February window than the August window–one of the reasons I generally view February as the more viable submission opportunity.
If you submitted during this August window, I’d love to hear about your experiences. Email me or leave a comment below.
[UPDATE: I got this from a colleague: “I submitted my (roughly) 20,000 word law review article to 20 law reviews through Scholastica on August 28, 2022. I received two offers pretty quickly and accepted one by September 6. I also received five rejections (one of which said the journal was full). The other 13 did not respond before I withdrew my article from consideration.”]