Thursday, November 17, 2005
During the last round of law review submissions, my colleague Brannon Denning and I were musing about stressful the process was. Perhaps we were also reading too much legal theory and drinking too much coffee, but the angsty (and hopefully humorous) result was “The Five Stages of Law Review Submission.”
In this piece, we discuss the process of getting an offer of publication, and compare it to the five stages of grief described by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance). Acceptance, in this context, does not mean ultimate publication of your work, but instead, coming to terms with the offers you want, the offers you have, and the wisdom to know the difference. Here’s a sample:
A Serenity Prayer for Law Review Authors
(With apologies to Reinhold Niebuhr)
Editor-in-Chief of the Universe,
Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change—
like the U.S. News rankings of the law reviews that give me offers, the public law bias of law review editors, the idiosyncratic article selection processes of the elite law reviews, the fact that article selection editors don’t appreciate how important my topic is, and the timing of law review editorial board elections;
the courage to change things I can—
like tailoring my articles to the latest academic fad no matter how tenuous the connection, using cutesy titles for articles, and staggering my submissions in order to get expedited review from a highly-ranked law review;
and wisdom to know whether it is better to accept an offer from an elite school’s specialty journal, as opposed to the general journal of a lower-ranked school, or vice-versa.
Living one article at a time;
Enjoying one publication at a time;
Accepting rejection letters and placements at lower-ranked journals as the pathway to peace.
Taking the submissions process
As it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that the editors will make things right
If I surrender to their will;
That I may be reasonably happy with this placement
And supremely happy with the next.