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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.

Student-Edited Journals

Law schools typically have a general-interest (or "flagship") law review (e.g., Washington Law Review, Seattle University Law Review, Gonzaga Law Review) that publishes articles on a wide range of topics. Most law schools also have one or more specialized journals, focusing on one or more topics (e.g., Washington International Law Journal, Washington Journal of Environmental Law and Policy, Washington Journal of Law, Technology & the Arts).

The process for becoming a staff member or editor of the general-interest law review is usually more competitive than for the specialized journals. Thus, publishing in a flagship law review is often seen as more prestigious than publishing in a specialized journal. On the other hand, the student editors of specialized journals may have more interest and therefore more expertise in their special areas. Specialized journals might be more likely to reach practitioners. And some specialized journals are very well respected. Publishing in the Harvard Civil Rights–Civil Liberties Law Review would probably be seen as more prestigious than publishing in many flagship journals.

Online companions usually publish pieces more quickly than their print counterparts. And they may be open to pieces that the editors might not run in print.

Peak submission times for student journals are February-March (as new editorial boards are looking toward the next volume) and August (as student editors are returning from their summer jobs). Authors who submit after these peaks may still place their papers, but it might be harder because some journals will fill their issues early.

It is common for authors to submit papers to 20 or more student-edited journals at once.

Some student-edited journals incorporate an element of peer review into their process—for example, by having faculty members review manuscripts that the editorial board is considering.

Professionally-Edited Journals

Law journals published by professional associations are typically edited by paid staff. When they review articles for publication, they send them out to experts in a "peer review" process. Because of this different editorial process, it is common for these journals to require authors to submit only to one journal at a time. For example, The Business Lawyer, published by the American Bar Association, is peer reviewed, and its general submission guidelines state: "A manuscript will not be considered, and should not be submitted, if it is under consideration for publication elsewhere, nor should a manuscript under consideration for publication by The Business Lawyer be submitted for consideration with another publication."

Be sure to review journals' submission guidelines before submitting.

Predatory Journals

“Predatory journals and publishers are entities that prioritize self-interest at the expense of scholarship and are characterized by false or misleading information, deviation from best editorial and publication practices, a lack of transparency, and/or the use of aggressive and indiscriminate solicitation practices.”

Agnes Grudniewicz et al., Predatory Journals: No Definition, No Defence, Nature (Dec. 12, 2019)

Predatory journals have been most prominent in the sciences, but law is not immune. Stop Predatory Journal's list includes, for example, Journal of Law & Ethics, European Law & Politics Journal, and International Journal of Law & Legal Jurisprudence Studies.

If in doubt about a journal, consider:

  • Is it affiliated with a university, a law school, or an established professional society?
  • Can you find past issues and get a sense that the articles have been carefully selected and edited?

See Predatory Journals: How to Identify Them?, Tress Academic blog (July 9, 2019).

As you have studied law and researched papers, you have probably read articles from dozens of journals. Strive to publish in journals like the ones that you have found helpful. Odds are, those journals won't include predatory journals.