The Volokh Conspiracy

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Law & Government

Another Alternative to Student-Run Law Reviews

The Journal of Legal Analysis at Harvard Law School is trying to broaden its coverage

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I've blogged before about the controversies over student-run law reviews, which I think generally get a bad rap. But I nonetheless think they do have plenty of predictable or systematic flaws — being vulnerable to intellectual fads or disfavoring certain kinds of scholarship that student editors may find hard to appreciate. It seems to me that the best intellectual insurance against these kinds of problems are a number of faculty-edited law journals that can publish excellent pieces that do not necessarily match the fads of the day.

One excellent example is of course the Journal of Free Speech Law, which Eugene is the editor in chief of. Another one near to my heart is the University of Chicago's Supreme Court Review, which I co-edit. But these journals both have relatively specialized coverage, so not all pieces will be a great fit.

So I want to draw your attention to one more good option to newly consider: the Journal of Legal Analysis, a faculty-edited journal published by the Oxford University Press on behalf of Harvard Law School. JLA has been publishing excellent work for some years, but it is making an effort to recommit to the breadth of a generalist law journal, and I recently agreed to join as one of the Co-Editors to help find and evaluate strong work.

If you have something good, I hope you consider submitting it.

Also worth mentioning, the goal is to make submission relatively simple and initial review relatively quick. From the new Editors-in-Chief:

Our goal is to take the best parts of "peer review" while jettisoning the not-so-great parts. The most important benefit of peer-review, of course, is that our editors, with the help and advice of experts from around the world, will select articles that make genuine, significant contributions to their fields, and provide authors with constructive, substantive feedback. Needless to say, student law review editors are not reliably well-equipped to provide this kind of screening or substantive input.

At the same time, we believe we can avoid the exasperating delays that often characterize the peer-review process. We promise our authors a very quick turn-around—in most cases, we should be able to provide at least a preliminary decision within a week or two. Given that time frame, and because we review continuously throughout the year, authors can submit pieces to JLA and get a decision during months when student-run law reviews are not considering submissions.

More generally, we want to make submitting to JLA cost-free for authors who might also be weighing law review submissions. We do not require manuscripts to be in any particular style or format. We are happy to consider standard law review-style submissions; and equally happy to read shorter pieces with less background material and fewer footnotes. Moreover, the manuscripts we accept for publication are not subject to extensive or invasive editing. We publish articles on-line on a rolling basis, as soon as they are complete. And all our articles are fully open access, widely available and disseminated on-line on a platform supported by Oxford University Press.