A Modest Proposal To Law Reviews
Dear Law Review members,
Today we write to you with a proposal that serves both you and the faculty who purport to hate rankings.
You probably gathered that law faculty hate law school rankings so much because they are anti-intellectual. Before tenure, you're forced into the game. Pretenure faculty simply do not have the luxury of taking risks with respect to the type of scholarship they pursue or with respect to placement.
But what about the folks who are already tenured and don't NEED to place their articles as part of the game. However, even after tenure, it is hard to stop that practice. Even though tenure means never having to say you're sorry, some schools won't take you seriously if you don't place well regardless of your substantive contributions to the scholarly literature in all its many forms. Others flat out pay extra for the landing of a higher-ranked journal. How do we assure that our tenured faculty break themselves of this anti-intellectual habit?
And, of course, there's your precious time. You don't get paid. You work extremely hard. You have classes to take and other obligations. How do we assure that you don't have your time wasted in this silly submission process?
Friends, we believe we have found a solution to everyone's problems! We mean, apart from faculty members just accepting the first offer or posting it on a blog. Because, even if you're at a school that is plummeting because your state legislature wants desperately to kill education, you still want to publish "well."
All we need is for all the law reviews and Scholastica to keep data as to which professors decline offers and seek expedites. We can build a data set of authors who NEVER or rarely take offers from certain journals, assuring that any offer to those faculty members is a waste of time for everyone involved. Offers could be made to those candidates more likely to accept from your school's range of law reviews.
Even better, higher-ranked schools may already have lists of people they have rejected consistently over the course of the professor's career. Who among us haven't received an email almost immediately after submission that a journal has "seriously considered" our work and regrets ... blah, blah, blah. At some point, the law reviews could just institute a permanent or time-limited ban on submission from those professors. Call it a "10 Strikes Rule" or whatever. Regardless, it would be understood to the professor that submission to that journal is a colossal waste of everyone's time.
Notice that we've said that there should be a common data set. However, the decisions of each law review must remain independent of the other law reviews. After all, law reviews don't want to get into a nasty group boycott situation. Potentially, your university council may not even defend you! So, let's keep those decisions about who to block on an individual law review level. We might even suggest ranking how well law reviews and their schools do on this metric.
TempDean is an anonymous professor and former interim administrator at a top 100 law school. Email him c/o [email protected] if you must.