2Ls & 3Ls Publishing Law Review Articles Outside Their Law School:

Some of my students asked: Just how likely is it that I can get my article published outside a home-school journal? I did some research on recent publications by UCLA law school graduates, and I thought I'd pass it along.

I'd expect that students at some schools publish more, because of the culture of the school and the type of students the schol draws (Yale would be a likely guess here); and students at other schools publish less. But my guess is that, to the extent this shows what UCLA students can do, students at other schools can do, too, especially if they circulate their articles widely enough.

1. In the seven classes from '00 to '06, at least 29 UCLA law students published articles in other schools' journals either the year they graduated (or before), or the year after. Most of the articles published the year they graduated or earlier (22 articles) were probably circulated before the students graduated. Most of the articles published the year after (7 articles) were probably circulated right after the students graduated.

2. For the benefit of those readers who have the usual lawyer affection for arithmetic, let me mention that this is about 3 articles per year from current students, plus 1 article per year from the just-graduated.

3. A little over half the articles (17) were published in specialy journals, such as the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy and the Yale Human Rights & Development Law Journal, the Journal of Medicine and the Law, and the like.

4. A little under half the articles (12) were published in general-purpose journals, ranging from one article in UC Davis (top 50) and two articles in USF (second 50) down to the third tier (Cleveland State) and lower-ranked schools (Franklin Pierce, Willamette, Western States, Cal Western, and University of West L.A.).

5. This is likely an underestimate; I searched for author's notes that said something like "JD, UCLA, 2003" (though I crafted the search to be more inclusive than that) -- if an author omitted his year of graduation from the note, the article wouldn't have come up.

6. What fraction of articles that were circulated got placed? Impossible to tell, since we don't know how many people tried to get their articles published. But my sense is that if your article is good and you distribute it widely (talk to me if you'd like to know how widely), chances are that you'll get at least one acceptance; some articles get several, and you can choose the best.

7. Finally, of course use these numbers for comparison -- your mileage may differ, especially since it depends on how good your article is, something no statistical analysis can tell us.

TheGoodReverend (mail) (www):
As a law student now going through the outside-my-school article submission process, my biggest question is how much weight to give the publication of an article as an "article" rather than a "note" or "comment." My instinct says that it's better to publish as an article, but is it enough to make up for a publication being a tier or two below the law review that would publish it as a not?
3.7.2007 8:37pm
recent graduate:
during my second year i wrote a paper with the intent of having it published in my home law review, so that i might be invited on the law review as a write on member. However, i also sent it out to other journals in case i did not get an offer from my school. I did recieve an offer from another school's law review. My experience was that with lower ranked jounrals one has a better a chance of an offer.
3.7.2007 9:01pm
Can't find a good name:
I have no personal expertise in this matter, but I personally would rather publish in a higher-tier law review as a note or comment than in a lower-tier law review as a full article.
3.7.2007 10:35pm
Articles Editor:
FWIW, I'm a recently elected Articles Editor of our law school's main journal and I've been told that "we don't take submissions from students outside of our law school." Of course, being Articles Editor I could disregard that.
3.7.2007 11:21pm
Bearcat (mail):
As another recently elected articles editor, I'm inclined to publish students from my own school first before offering publication to student submissions from other schools.
3.8.2007 12:44am
Realist Liberal (mail):
As a third recently elected Articles Editor I'm in the same position. I'm the Lead Articles Editor and currently my law review's bylaws state that they don't publish from students outside of my school. As soon we finish electing the rest of the Editorial Board, I'm going to try and get that removed. The whole idea makes no sense to me. I'd much rather have a quality piece of work from a student then a piece of garbage from a professor (and a lot of professors out there just send around garbage).
3.8.2007 2:20am
EV: It seems like it would be useful to know how many UCLA students published in the UCLA journals during the same time period.
3.8.2007 7:48am
lawprof (mail):
Another approach would be to write a good paper during your 2L/3L year, but not submit it until after graduation. So, by the time submission rolls around, you can list yourself as an Associate or Clerk--not a law student. I did this after graduating from my top-20 law school, and placed the article in a top-50 journal. It's not a perfect solution, but I do think that journals that wouldn't have looked at an article by a law student were willing to take a look at mine, even though it was "really" a student piece.
3.8.2007 8:03am
IA patlaw:
I'm two years removed from being an articles editor, but I can say that at our journal (at a tier 3 school) we wouldn't even consider publishing submissions from other schools if the authors were still students. They weren't even reviewed. This was because we didn't think they could be fairly characterized as "articles," and we only published our own students' notes.
3.8.2007 9:57am
Justin (mail):
Me and at least three others I know at my (top 6) law school got published as an article in other journals. All 3 were specialty journals. One of us was on law review, the other three were on other journals. One of us was also published in the journal (not law review) that they were an editor on. A fifth person I know, not on any law review, was published in a top 50 law review as an article that he co-wrote with a professor. Four of us clerked after law school - the fifth person was getting a joint degree (and did not clerk AFAIK).
3.8.2007 10:07am
I think the rate at which students publish at other schools also has something to do with institutional support. I know at my school (bottom of T-1) the student is on the hook for paying expenses related to circulating the piece through Expresso, whereas other schools are more supportive. The expense has discouraged at least a few people I know from trying to be published elsewhere. You'd think that a school trying to improve its own image and reputation would be supportive of its students' efforts to be published in any way possible, but I guess at the end of the day money talks.
3.8.2007 3:30pm
Jesse Katsopolis:
Any thoughts on how to weigh an offer from a specialty journal from a higher ranked school (say top tier) versus a lower ranked general purpose law review? I've heard that a rule of thumb is to knock a specialty journal down a tier -- so that, for example, a specialty journal from a number 20-something school would be equivalent to a number 70-something law review.
3.8.2007 4:29pm
GWH (mail):
I published an article in a specialty journal at a different school when I was in law school. For some articles publication in a specialty journal is preferable (1) because people might actually read it who have an interest in the topic, and (2) because the nature of the topic might make it less attractive to "general" journals. For example, my article was on the use of refugees as a tool of foreign policy. This is attractive to an international law journal, but a much harder sell to a general journal.

It also depends why you are publishing. If you are publishing as a credential, get it in the highest-ranked journal possible. But if you are thinking of this as the first publication of your academic career (regardless of whether you are a career academic), then publishing in a well regarded -- though not necessarily "top" -- specialty journal can actually get your article wider circulation amongst folks to whom the article will matter. In the Westlaw era, those seriously researching a topic will almost always be able to find the article, so higher "visibility" in a better-ranked journal isn't an initial concern. While publishing in some very highly ranked journals (maybe top 20) will always take precedence, I think that publishing the right article in a specialty journal won't hurt you at all, and may be the difference between the article being published or sitting in your file cabinet.
3.8.2007 5:21pm
JayTee (mail):
I was one of those UCLAW students (Class of '04) to publish in another school's (Top 40) specialty journal. I had a somewhat different experience. At the time I wanted to publish, I was serving as an editor on one of the school's journals. I wrote my paper, and submitted it to my journal. It was not accepted I was told because another editor was already publishing a note in that issue and some board members thought that it would not be right to publish two notes written by journal members in the same issue. I then submitted it to only one other journal, which published it as an Article. As a side note, publishing the article really had no practical use other than giving me something else to put on my bookshelf. The benefit of the process came in the research and writing phase in which I learned a lot about a topic that interested me.
3.9.2007 10:41am