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March 06, 2008


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Here's an answer to at least one of the questions:

"We found, for example, that Articles Editors seek to publish articles from well-known and widely-respected authors. It appears, however, that editors do not assume that prestigious authors produce the best scholarship, but instead they pursue the work of well-known authors because it can increase their journals' prestige within the legal academic community."

John C

I am a practitioner just 2 yrs out of school. Last year, I placed one article in a top-250 journal (ranking courtesy of W&L), and another in a top-200 journal. Just a few weeks back, I placed in a top-30 journal. So good placements can happen even to those not in the professoriate. I will say, however, it's tough to get journals to bite if you don't have a name, and if you don't teach. I usually only got a handful of offers, sometimes just 2 or 3 (the most recent piece only got two offers - luckily one was very high, at least in my mind).

Law Rev Skeptic

Thank you for raising the issue. Letterhead bias is pervasive and makes the whole system questionable. Somebody from a top 5 school could bluebook a ham sandwich and get it published in a top 10 journal. Same for someone in the top 10 getting something in a top 20 journal.

Why don't more law profs point this out? The question answers itself--many want to teach in, or get the attention of, people in the top 20. There's no better way to offend them than to point out this basic fact.

Lucky Jim

Could any good scholar place an article in a Top 20 journal?

Without claiming to be a good scholar, my own experience shows at least that someone not on the faculty of an elite law school can get good placements. I placed my first article in a top 25 journal while still in private practice. I've placed my most recent article in a top 20 journal despite teaching at a decidedly non-elite law school. Self-deprecating chap that I am, I attribute these placements to the gullibility of student law review editors.

Tim Zinnecker

What about subject-matter bias? Is using "tax" or "UCC" in the title the kiss of death?


I had a piece rejected from every law review when I was affiliated with a non prestigious school. Then I had a 1 year stint at an ivy school, submitted the exact same piece and had multiple offers.

You be the judge.


I am a former editor of a top 5 Law Review. I believe there was a bias toward publishing authors who taught at our law school. I think this had a lot to do with us student editors becoming enamored of the professors they saw in class or worked for as research assistants.
Nevertheless, we did reject some submissions from big-name Profs at our school while I was there.
I think there was less of a bias toward Profs at top 20 schools versus Profs at lower-ranked schools. I'm not saying there was no bias, but it was less pronounced.


I seem to remember an article a few years back (5?) by a law prof who was visiting at a school much higher ranked than his regular gig. As an experiment, he sent a new article out to numberous reviews but alternated the name of his employer in the star footnote. The result, as you'd expect (and as someone already mentioned up there): letterhead bias was pervasive and powerful.

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