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Legal Writing

Publication Submissions and Writing Competitions

When to submit
The academic publishing service Scholastica has identified two key dates for journals receiving and reviewing submissions: Feb. 1 and Aug. 1. However, student pieces are more likely to receive offers later in the cycle, and ASU Law Professor Troy Rule recommends a target date of late March. Submitting on schedule can help because a significant number of journals close themselves off from submissions for parts of the year. Scholastica also suggests that if you are hoping for a place in a particular journal to ask the staff when to submit your paper.

How to submit
Scholastica provides a law review author guide including instructions on creating an account, submitting your writing, communicating with prospective publishers, and submitting to multiple journals, as well as general tips to get your ideas in print. It also details how to withdraw papers and how to respond to publication offers.

Where to submit
Law schools typically offer themed journals concerning particular aspects of law or society in addition to general, flagship law reviews and journals. ASU students have received publication offers from specialized journals including the Harvard Journal of Law & Gender and The Journal of Law Medicine & Ethics. If you have an offer but want to know whether another journal is interested in your paper, an expedited decision request can help.

Arizona State Law Journal: Criminal Justice Reform National Writing Competition
This contest offers prize money and potential publication in the Arizona State Law Journal Online. It is open to law students across the country. Articles must not exceed 7,500 words and must concern criminal justice reform.

American Indian Law Review National Writing Competition
Three awards offered annually by the American Indian Law Review at the University of Oklahoma College of Law. The competition is available to any currently enrolled law student who submits a paper on any issue concerning American Indian law.

University of Richmond School of Law Legal Essay Contest Catalog
"The Richmond Law Legal Essay Contest Catalog is the Web's largest collection of writing competitions for law students."

Suffolk University Law School ICompete Writing
A breakdown of writing contests into particular areas of law.

Georgetown Law Technology Review Student Writing Competition
This competition for law students invites submissions addressing a legal or public policy question relating to emerging and sustained challenges to legal and political structures created by online platforms, digital services, and other emerging technologies. Up to three winners will be selected, with a first prize of $4,000.

ABA for Law Students Writing Competitions
Contests in a variety of subject areas offer money prizes.

National Law Review Writing Competition
This monthly contest for law students focuses on practice oriented analysis for lawyers and professionals in related fields.

AccessLex Writing Competitions
This is a searchable database of law school writing competitions put together by a non-profit dedicated to legal education.

Expert Advice

Information for Submitting Articles to Journals and Law Reviews (Allen Rostron & Nancy Levit, 2021)
This frequently updated guide to submitting articles to law reviews and journals includes information on methods of submission (such as through Scholastica, another academic publication submission program, or direct email), word counts, formatting, and how to request an expedited decision. This resource focuses on flagship law reviews and journals rather than subject specific secondary journals.

Submission of Law Student Articles for Publication (Nancy Levit et al., 2016)
This guide is geared specifically toward students, with practical tips such as withholding publication until after beginning a clerkship, when national flagship law reviews may be more receptive toward submissions. It provides tips on maximizing publication chances, such as co-authoring with a professor and optimizing the cover letter and abstract.

Information for Submitting to Online Law Review Companions (Bridget J. Crawford, 2020)
Online journal companions provide another outlet for academic writing. Although these major law review companions may be a difficult destination for student writing to reach, the submission principles that the author identifies may help you associate with a big name journal or prepare your work for consideration by other journals and online services.

Getting it Published: A Guide for Scholars and Anyone Else Serious About Serious Books (William Germano, 2016)
This title, available as an ebook, provides clear and practical guidance on choosing the best path to publication of scholarly writing. The author focuses on book publication but the lessons provided are applicable to article publication as well.

Professors at ASU Law and S.J. Quinney College of Law, as well as students and alumni who have published articles, provided the following tips:

Write for Your Audience
Legal audiences are diverse, and your paper should be useful or interesting to legal academics or legal professionals. Commentators can provide guidance on how to conceptualize, organize, and execute your legal arguments.

  • Break new ground: Our Conducting a Preemption Check guide can help you make sure that other writers have not already argued your key points. The more current and cutting edge your topic, the more likely it will be of interest to a law journal.
  • Tap into general interests: Notes or comments of broad interest will garner more interest than papers that are focused too narrowly, such as one examining just one particular case or jurisdiction. 
  • Join a conversation: Journals may consider articles that make an effective counterpoint to an ongoing academic discussion. Our Choosing a Paper Topic guide can help you identify subjects of hot debate.
  • Summarize a complex doctrine: By virtue of externships or particular research projects, students often emerge as the experts in very discrete areas of the law, and you can impart your wisdom to the professionals. Many legal practitioners turn to law review articles to help them navigate issues that arise while representing a client. User friendly breakdowns of complex legal doctrines can appeal to audiences and, consequently, journals.
  • Write for particular journals: Secondary journals in your field are more likely to publish student writing than general, flagship law journals. You can tailor your article to a particular journal by choosing appropriate subject matter and writing techniques. You can read up on particular publications by browsing HeinOnline (available on campus or through ASURITE).
  • Use reliable sources: Proper input is essential for helping you write a useful history of legal precedent in your comment or note. Meet with a Librarian for assistance in identifying and navigating reliable legal and academic resources.
  • Strike an academic tone: With some exceptions, law journals and reviews will prefer sober academic and legal analysis with professional vocabulary to papers that indulge in overt activism or "soaring rhetoric." Still, the writing should be engaging and flow well.

Seek Guidance

  • Join a professor: If you find a strong connection with particular professors' research interests, assisting them with their projects can be an excellent way to learn about topics and get exposure. You will likely read up significantly on particular legal debates, and you may even be able to co-write an article with a professor, which will increase your publication potential. Our Research Assistants' Guide can get you started.
  • Get lots of feedback: The more criticism and advice you solicit, the stronger your paper will be. It's particularly useful to seek different perspectives, sending articles to legal practitioners as well as legal academics.

Meet Publications' Expectations

  • Reach the word count: Some student notes and comments may not be long enough to meet journals' requirements, so be sure to check journal websites to find their submission guidelines.
  • Format your text properly: Most journals will enforce formatting requirements for submissions such as double spaced text. Journals will more likely reject students than legal professionals for formatting errors.
  • Format footnotes properly: The law library provides resources to help you master legal citation in this Legal Writing Research Guide. You may also make an appointment to discuss complex citations with a reference librarian or email the reference librarians about simpler questions.

Get Noticed

  • Strengthen your cover letter and abstract: First impressions count for a lot, and engaging introductory materials can help your work advance beyond the initial stages of a journal's selection process. Commentators provide guidance on how to get noticed.
  • Cast a wide net: Try to send your article to as many journals as will likely take an interest in your topic to maximize your publication changes.
  • Enter a contestStudent writing competitions typically provide prizes, recognition, or publication, depending on the particulars of the contest. Find a partial listing of contests in the Writing Competitions section below. 
  • Run a blog: Particularly if you have a strong interest and take many courses in related areas of law, you can opine on a series of topics and build an audience for your ideas through a blog. It can be an informal place to recycle research assignments to gain exposure.

Journal Information

Arizona State's law journals publish student works in print and online.

Arizona State Law Journal
ASU Law's quarterly flagship law journal publishes professional and student works on general legal topics.

Jurimetrics
This quarterly journal focuses on intersections between the law and science, technology, mathematics, and engineering.

Sports and Entertainment Law Journal
This journal publishes professional and student writing biannually in print and online.

Law Journal for Social Justice
This online journal focuses on local, national, and international social justice issues and provides a topical blog.

Corporate and Business Law Journal
This journal publishes articles by students and academics, and it provides a forum for shorter, topical works.

HOW TO JOIN A JOURNAL'S STAFF
Students exhibiting essential writing and editing skills through the ASU Journal Write On Competition may be asked to join the staff of any of ASU Law's five journals. The competition involves a test of Bluebook citation skills and a writing assignment requiring students to produce a closed universe memorandum in a short timeframe. Students must attend an informational meeting and submit an online grade release form to qualify for the Write On Competition.

Law Journal Submissions and Ranking
For students seeking journals that will maximize their work's impact, the Washington & Lee Law School Library provides rankings, primarily based on citation counts. 

Impact Factor
The publisher Francis & Taylor describes the qualities that journal ranking services consider, revealing the importance of works attracting citations. Its Altmetric Attention Score page also explains how authors can measure the impact of their work in nontraditional and online sources.

The Signaling Value of Law Reviews: An Exploration of Citation and Prestige (Alan Brophy)
A study of citations finds that articles published in secondary or subject specific journals can receive as many citations or more than articles published in top ranked general law journals. 

Scholarship Databases

Social Science Research Network
The SSRN can help academics notice your work before it is published. Academics provide feedback and may even cite to draft articles hosted on the website.

Faculty Scholarship Repository - Arizona State University
Published articles by ASU Law faculty can help you identify topics for further research or find a mentor for your writing project.

HeinOnline Law Journal Library (available on campus or through ASURITE)
This resource archives full text PDF copies of law journal articles dating back decades to help researchers  identify topics or find potential publishers. 

  • This database's subject indexes include subject specific journals that will be more likely to accept student submissions than flagship law reviews.
  • Most Cited Journals on HeinOnline lists the most prestigious law reviews and journals, which are typically highly competitive for professional legal academics and professionals. 

Google Scholar
This resource compiles interdisciplinary and nonlegal scholarship in addition to law journal articles. Many resources are available in full text PDF through the search bar on the law library homepage.