Jeremy's Weblog

I recently graduated from Harvard Law School. This is my weblog. It tries to be funny. E-mail me if you like it. For an index of what's lurking in the archives, sorted by category, click here.

Thursday, October 23, 2003

There's an interesting post over at En Banc about law review articles, building off of a post over at The Volokh Conspiracy. The post basically replies to a hypothetical professor's question about what to do when top journals reject his or her work, and seeks explanations.

One of the reasons I'm linking to En Banc is that it's a new group law blog, made up of 8 people who've also got weblogs of their own. As you'll see if you check it out, I'm one of the eight, and mostly just feel pleased to have been asked to take part, and since I basically say no to nothing.... It won't affect anything that happens here (it would be awfully dumb for me to let it, I think) -- En Banc's focused much more on "real" legal issues, and serious stuff like that, stuff that I'd have no context (or inspiration, really) to post normally, but given the group nature of the blog, someone else's posts may occasionally spark something in me, and that gives me a place to respond. This remains what it is -- that's just some other stuff if I'm so inspired. It may become more trouble than it's worth, but it may also turn out cool. I don't know. Just an experiment. I was actually thinking about posting anonymously over there, but that really seemed like more trouble than it's worth. And I'll flag anything good from there over here.

Like this law review discussion, which I thought was interesting enough that I'd link. My take on legal journals and how they work, at least at Harvard?

My "Law Review Helga" replies to a post by "Law Review Sally" that tells Professor "Seattle" that maybe her article just wasn't good enough and that's why it got rejected by the journals:

"Seattle, don't listen to Sally. I'm sure your article was great. But let's face it. These journals are run by law students. Law students who barely do the reading they have to do for class, let alone the extra reading they volunteer to do so they can add 'submissions committee' to their resumes. The kid who read your article read it in eight minutes while watching South Park, and besides that is just a 2L who's never taken a class in the subject you wrote about and can't tell the difference between a groundbreaking legal article on the topic and a USA Today feature story on how many stars there are on the US flag. So it's not your fault, Seattle. It's the system. If you want to get published by today's youth running these journals (don't ask Law Review Helga her age... but she was Rutherford Hayes' kindergarten teacher, so she's been around a while), you need lewd pictures and four-letter words. That's the ticket, Seattle. Don't lose hope."

In all seriousness, I'm on the "submissions committee" of the journal I'm on here (which really just means I've read an article or three and written up a brief report, thumbs-up or thumbs-down -- I'm sure on the Law Review it's much more intense). And most of the articles I've read, to be honest, are simply beyond my understanding. I don't know that much law, I don't know what's "groundbreaking" in any particular field... I'm just guessing. I'm trying -- but heck if I know what makes an article publishable in a top journal in the field. I mean, I can say if something's readable, clear, well-written... but new and noteworthy? So I don't know that I really understand the student-in-control system... or if in the end it really works, or it doesn't... but yeah, Seattle's article may be junk, but it also may just be it fell into the wrong hands over at the journal.

And actually I just had a 3-hour "mass subcite" tonight, which, even when you're an "article editor" and theoretically "running" the subcite, still isn't all that much fun. :)