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Writing for & Publishing in Law Reviews

This guide provides information and resources to help students and professionals who want to write scholarly papers and get them published in law reviews.

What Are Notes and Comments?

A Note or Comment is a work of legal scholarship written by a law journal student, generally during his or her 2L year and the first year he or she is a member of a law journal. Notes or Comments may be selected for publication in the law journal. Articles, in contrast, typically are written by non-students, such as law professors or experts in certain subject areas.

Law schools differ in what they consider to be a Note versus a Comment. For instance, the Yale Law Journal defines a Note as a work of legal scholarship that "should advance a particular area of legal  scholarship beyond its current state, make a detailed argument, and provide persuasive evidence for each of its conclusions," whereas the Yale Law Journal defines a Comment as a piece of legal scholarship that "should present a concise yet still original argument and have minimal literature review. Comments often (but need not necessarily) respond to a recent development in the law, such as cases, legislation, law review articles, lawsuits, administrative rulings, and executive orders." In contrast, other law journals, such as those at Northwestern Pritzker School of Law, view Notes as works of legal scholarship that primarily analyze recent court decisions, whereas they define Comments as works of legal scholarship that "more broadly consider an issue of law."

Your Note or Comment must follow your law journal's formatting specifications regarding margins, spacing, font, font size, and number of required pages.

Textbooks for Students

Chapters in Broader Legal Writing Texts

Advice for Students

Allison Christians, Really Basic Rules for Writing Good Papers in Law School, 23 Green Bag 2d 181 (2020). SSRN.

Patrick Eoghan Murray, Write on! A Guide to Getting on Law Review (2014) (unpublished paper posted on SSRN).

Andrew Yaphe, Taking Note of Notes: Student Legal Scholarship in Theory and Practice, 62 J. Legal Educ. 259 (2012).
HeinOnline | SSRN. Critiques books by Volokh and by Fajans & Falk above and empirically analyzes published notes.

Advice for Law Professors

Columbia Law School Careers in Law Teaching Program. Includes discussion of writing and publishing (methodology, field, topics, length) and a sample scholarly agenda.

Christian C. Day, In Search of the Read Footnote: Techniques for Writing Legal Scholarship and Having It Published, 6 Legal Writing: J. Legal Writing Inst. 229 (2000) [HeinOnline]

Richard Delgado, How to Write a Law Review Article, 20 U.S.F. L. Rev. 445 (1986) [HeinOnline], [SSRN]

Laura P. Graham, Interval Training for Legal Writing Scholars, 23 Legal Writing 21 (2019) [HeinOnline] (short, encouraging essay analogizes writing an article to training as a runner).

Mary Kay Kane, Some Thoughts on Scholarship for Beginning Teachers, 37 J. Legal Educ. 14 (1987) [HeinOnline]

Nancy Levit, Scholarship Advice for New Law Professors in the Electronic Age, 16 Widener L.J. 947 (2007) [HeinOnline], [SSRN] (draft)

Jacqueline D. Lipton, Tenure Redux, 59 IDEA 181 (2018), [HeinOnline], [SSRN] (discusses writing style, subject matter, and journal placement for tenure work).

Hiroshi Motomura, Setting a "Scholarly Agenda," 10 St. Louis U. Pub. L. Rev. 175 (1991). HeinOnline

Nancy B. Rapoport, Help Your Provost Help You During Promotion and Tenure Decisions, 24 Green Bag 2d 83 (2020), [SSRN]. Tips for explaining to a provost how legal scholarship is different from other fields. Articles published in journals edited by students count!

Caprice L. Roberts, Unpopular Opinions on Legal Scholarship, 50 Loy. Chi. L. Rev. 365 (2018), [HeinOnline]

Pamela Samuelson, Good Legal Writing: Of Orwell and Window Panes, 46 U. Pitt. L. Rev. 149 (1984), [HeinOnline], [author's webpage]

Donald J. Weidner, A Dean’s Letter to New Law Faculty About Scholarship, 44 J. Legal Educ. 440 (1994). HeinOnline

 

Advice for Law Students or Law Professors

Hon. Ruggero J. Aldisert, Introduction [to Third Circuit Review], 30 Villanova L. Rev. 828 (1995), [HeinOnline], [SSRN]. Advice from appellate judge on how to critique appellate decisions.

Sean Burke, How to Write a  Law Review Article, 99 J. Patent & Trademark Off. Soc'y 113 (2017). HeinOnline. Advice from the journal's outgoing editor-in-chief.

Linda H. Edwards, A Writing Life, 61 Mercer L. Rev. 867 (2010). HeinOnline.

Gerald Lebovits, Academic Legal Writing: How to Write and Publish, N.Y. St. B. Ass'n J., Jan. 2006, at 64. HeinOnline.

Robert Luther III, Practical Tips for Placing and Publishing Your First Law Review Article, 50 U. Rich. L. Rev. Online 63 (2016).

Advice for Lawyers

Carolyn Elefant, Unleash Your Inner Scholar: Why Solos Should Write a Law Review Article, myshingle.com (Dec. 12, 2011)

Lt. Col. Keirsten Kennedy, Start Writing Already, Army Law., Sept./Oct. 2018, at 13, [HeinOnline]. Aimed at JAG lawyers, this short (3-page) article has solid advice for any writer.

Not Just for Legal Scholars

How to Increase Citations to Your Paper

Bonnie J. Shucha, Representing Law Faculty Scholarly Impact: Strategies for Improving Citation Metrics Accuracy and Promoting Scholarly Visibility, Legal Reference Servs. Q. (pub. online Oct. 7, 2021), [draft available on SSRN], [Taylor & Francis site (full text not available at UW)]

[T]this article suggests strategies to improve the accuracy of citation metrics for legal scholars and promote the visibility of their scholarship. This practical advice will benefit anyone interested in representing the scholarly impact of law faculty to its fullest effect, including legal scholars, law school administrators, and communications departments.

Rob Willey & Melanie Knapp, Hein, U.S. News, and How to Increase Citations, 18 Ohio St. Tech. L.J. (forthcoming winter 2022), [draft available on SSRN]

The authors describe past citation studies and best practices in Search Engine Optimization (SEO). The authors find that factors beyond article quality likely impact scholarly citations. Drawing from the lessons in the citation patterns, article characteristics, and SEO best practices, the authors offer techniques to increase the article citation counts of articles published in U.S. law journals.