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The Best and Worst Law Reviews, Based on their Customer Service [Final Ranking]

Dave Hoffman

Dave Hoffman is the Murray Shusterman Professor of Transactional and Business Law at Temple Law School. He specializes in law and psychology, contracts, and quantitative analysis of civil procedure. He currently teaches contracts, civil procedure, corporations, and law and economics.

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17 Responses

  1. Alison says:

    Some internal law review practices are probably consistent over time, but others must change simply as a result of the complete staffing turnover every 12 months. That vigilant managing editor who wants a parenthetical for every citation will be gone within the year, and someone with a less-is-more understanding of Bluebook Rule 1.5 may replace her.

    You should offer this poll every year around March/April. The new boards are taking their first stabs at editing, and they will be in place for the fall submission cycle as well — though they may be gone by the time your article is actually published.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Condorcet voting doesn’t make sense for this kind of poll. No one can make a head-to-head ranking for the journals on your list unless they have worked with those journals (unlike a survey of “prestige,” which at least involves perceptions that an author can have of all the journals). Even if Cass Sunstein took the time out of his OIRA schedule to fill this out, his rankings would only be meaningful for a small segment of the 51 journals on the list.

  3. dave hoffman says:

    But the point is that you have information about journals you didn’t work with — their attitude & professionalism *during the submission season*. Since most people submit to the top 50/100/150 law reviews, they do have experience with journals getting back to them/not, which is an important customer service that the poll is testing on.

  4. Anthony says:

    It should probably go without saying that the worst law reviews for customer service are those that you can’t even submit your article to because their email addresses are constantly bouncing because they’re overquota, or have changed and not been updated anywhere. Some examples from the past month include:

    Alabama Law Review

    Arizona State Law Journal

    Connecticut Public Interest Law Journal

    Creighton Law Review

    Journal of Contemporary Health Law and Policy

    Ohio State Law Journal

    Roger Williams University Law Review

    Rutgers Law Journal

    Tennessee Journal of Law & Policy

    Widener Law Review

    Of those, Roger Williams is easily the worst offender–their email address has been bouncing for me every window since March 2008. Second worst is CPILJ, which has been “overquota” since this February and remains overquota as of yesterday.

    Honorable mentions are law journals that have you email submissions to individual article editors (who change each year) and don’t update their websites to reflect the new information.

  5. TRE says:

    Professors must be at fault in some degree. I was reading a textbook a few weeks ago and the text referred to the FRE. Something like “jursidiction would then be furnished by Federal Rules of Evidence XX and YY1. What was the footnote? I figured it might be some interesting jursidictional musings. No, the footnote was just Federal Rules of Evidence, XX and YY.

  6. One of the difficulties with making this assessment is that law reviews change rather dramatically from year to year. There are some law reviews that used to be quite good in customer service that now are not. And vice versa.

  7. dave hoffman says:

    Dan, well, we ought to celebrate folks who have gotten better and talk about those who are bad. Who do you have in mind?

  8. Lawrence Cunningham says:

    I’ve published 26 articles in 22 of the 50 journals in the survey over the past 15 years (and, for 2 years as Academic Dean, involved myself in placement and publication with dozens of pieces written by colleagues).

    In my experience, there is little doubt, year in and year out, that some journals are consistently better and others consistently weaker in communication skills and responsiveness (and I’ll reflect this in my survey response). Editorial quality varies from piece to piece and probably from year to year depending on editorial membership as comments have noted.

    On neither point, however, do I detect much correlation between such “customer service” and perceived journal quality, which is I think part of what Dave’s survey is probing.

    Furthermore, I must emphasize that in all these seasons of submissions and publications, I have had essentially no deeply negative experiences with any journal, piece or editor. I actually like the process and result. Three cheers for student run law reviews!

  9. Jason Wojciechowski says:

    The small sample size here is bothersome. You’ve got 83 results. How many of those are from actual professors as opposed to random law students or other people with motives other than pure knowledge-creation?

    Even if all of the results are from law professors, what percentage of the overall lawprof population does 83 represent? 1%? The chance that the “worst” law reviews on your list are actually the very best is astronomically high.

    Frankly, I consider it somewhat irresponsible to tout the results of this poll as meaning anything at all given the absurdly low response rate. (Low relative to the total population of people publishing in law reviews, that is. You might well have convinced everyone who read this post to respond. Who knows.)

  10. Danielle Citron says:

    Although I realize that my answer stems from a small pool, I have had extraordinary experiences with the student-run law reviews: at each and every one that published my work (Michigan Law Review, BU Law Review, Wash U Law Review, Southern Cal Law Review, UC Davis Law Review, and U Chicago Legal Forum) , the students have provided superb suggestions (all six), both as to substance and as to citation style.

    My supervising editors have been so true to their promised schedules and have been so understanding when I asked to feature the work in a later issue so that I could present it at various places and get terrific feedback (Michigan and Wash U). Indeed, my most recent experience with BU was lightening quick as was my experience with Southern Cal. In both cases, they accepted my piece in late August and it came out in February. The struck me as totally amazing. My very first publication was with UC Davis Law Review: they were incredibly understanding, wise, and true to their promised schedule. And Michigan Law Review has given me such insightful feedback on my current piece, generously giving me time to improve the piece in the new two months. So to my student editors, past and present, I applaud you and am ever grateful!

    Danielle Citron

  11. Matt says:

    The inclusion of secondary journals with targeted subject matter is significantly problematic, as well. I do not write in the field of technology law or international law, so I have never submitted to any of the secondary journals in those fields. Consequently, I was forced to rank them “last” in the poll even though the true response would have been more like “I have no basis for evaluating.” Given the number of specialized secondary journals at the bottom, I would guess many people had this problem as well.

  12. fmreic says:

    An internet poll isn’t of too much use, but it is too bad there aren’t law review rankings based on timely publication. I think those would be very revealing.

    Not only don’t the W&L rankings measure timely publication, they also are a snapshot of how a journal was 5 to 8 years ago. The contributions of newer boards (more relevant to an author’s experience) are highly discounted in citation rankings, and boards from 7 and 8 years ago mean almost everything in those rankings, and, well, they are long gone.

  13. david hoffman says:

    Why didn’t you just have them unranked? That was a choice in the poll, for that exact purpose.

  14. Darian Ibrahim says:

    I agree with Danielle’s comments. I have been impressed with the students editors on each of my pieces, in substance, professionalism, everything.

  15. Edward Swaine says:

    I side with those who think that ranking student law reviews over time isn’t that meaningful because of turnover and the capacity for unpredicted change in the future. Peer-review journals are a different matter, and seem fair game.

    Two questions:

    (1) Wouldn’t it be more useful to poll faculty on the customer service features they find most important — other than “accepting my submissions”? Here too I doubt that ranking is appropriate, but if the results showed which items were considered “very important”, “somewhat important,” “irrelevant,” etc., it might guide law reviews in establishing best practices.

    (2) Don’t you fear seeing a poll of law review editors ranking authors in terms of *their* professionalism, esp. during the editing process? Though it would be kind of interesting, assuming it came out the right way . . .

  16. Kim Ahern says:

    Hello, my name is Kim Ahern and I’m the current Editor-in-Chief of the Roger Williams Law School. I wanted to respond to one of the comments above because we’ve made some changes to our website and contact information and the issue raised above should in no way influence anyone who is interested in submitting to our law review.

    Our website is:

    http://clubs.rwu.edu/lawreview/

    Additionally, we do check our Espresso submissions and respond to phone calls at the number listed on our website. I apologize to Anthony who commented above but also want to repeat some of the comments listed where it was said that each year, Law Reviews face a quick transition and a new year’s Board may not necessarily repeat some of the previous mistakes.

  17. Kim Ahern says:

    Hello, my name is Kim Ahern and I’m the current Editor-in-Chief of the Roger Williams Law School. I wanted to respond to one of the comments above because we’ve made some changes to our website and contact information and the issue raised above should in no way influence anyone who is interested in submitting to our law review.

    Our website is:

    http://clubs.rwu.edu/lawreview/

    Additionally, we do check our Espresso submissions and respond to phone calls at the number listed on our website. I apologize to Anthony who commented above but also want to repeat some of the comments listed where it was said that each year, Law Reviews face a quick transition and a new year’s Board may not necessarily repeat some of the previous mistakes.