Is It Harder to Get a Top Law Review Placement Today?
The other day, over at Conglomerate, Gordon Smith asked for data regarding law review rejection rates for article submissions.
I’m interested in collecting some data too — but instead of rejection rates, I’m interested in historical submission data. I’ve long had a hypothesis, though I’ve lacked data to back it up. The hypothesis is this: Today, it is much harder to get a top law review placement than it was 20 years ago. Let’s define a top law review placement as one in a top 20 law review (it doesn’t matter whether it’s the top 10, 20, 30, etc., so long as we agree on a particular number of journals). The number of article slots in the top 20 law reviews hasn’t changed much — each publishes roughly 12 to 18 articles a year. There are thus about 240 to 360 total slots each year — on average probably around 300. I assume that the number of slots has remained relatively constant over time.
The number of law review article submissions, however, has almost certainly risen. Over the past 20 years, standards have changed in the legal academy to encourage more publishing. Whereas before, professors were expected to publish frequently only at some schools, now nearly all law schools expect professors to be prolific scholars. The result: More law review article submissions! And the math is simple — more submissions are now chasing the same number of top law review slots.
I’m curious about the data. I wonder whether any law reviews have kept historical submission data. It would be interesting, for example, to know how many pieces were submitted to a given law review back in 1986 as opposed to 2006. Or back in 1976. Do any law review editors have access to this data? I’d be very interested to see the scope of the increase over the years.