Should Authors Include A C.V. In Law Review Submissions?:
The ExpressO Law Review Submission Guide recommends that authors include a curriculum vitae when submitting articles to law reviews:
  The curriculum vitae is the most important accompanying document according to law review editors. Several editors made a special note that one's history of prior publication should be included.
  I am interested in hearing from current or recent articles editors on whether this is true. Do you recommend including a C.V. along with a submission? How many authors include them? Is a formal C.V. the way to go, or is a brief "About the Author" blurb sufficient? I know a number of law professors and other authors who have wondered about this, and I know we would much appreciate your feedback.

   Thanks to AWC for the link.

  UDPATE: To be clear, I am not looking for normative judgments as to whether articles editors should want to see C.V.s. It's an interesting debate, but not the one at issue here. My interest here is in understanding as a descriptive matter what articles editors actually do and what they actually prefer (warts and all).
Straw Man (mail):
Including a CV , however brief it may be, would skew the reader's perception of the quality of the piece. Programatically, a student like myself would give less weight - regardless of the article's quality - if the author got his JD from George Mason instead of Yale. An article should stand on its own merits, not the author's.
3.30.2005 4:53pm
david blue (mail) (www):
I was head of articles at Mich. L. Rev. a few years back. Although my memory is hazy, I don't recall looking at any CVs that might have accompanied submitted articles. We certainly read cover letters, and most of them probably included some basic biographical info and some cites to recent publications, along with a brief description of the article, all of which seems perfectly appropriate. But including yet another document, especially a full CV, seems to me only to further burden editors who are already drowning in paper. It also strikes me that the point of including a CV is to say "hey, look at all the articles I've published in major LRevs/named lectures I've given/other impressive things I've done/ - shouldn't you be jumping on this article before another LRev that's higher up the food chain does so first?" In other words, it seems designed to exacerbate the aspects of the law review system that have been roundly (and I think justly) criticized, rather than to help the editors do what they should be doing, which is to figure out whether the article is worthy of publication on its own merits. If the editors are interested enough in an article to want to learn where else its author has published or given lectures, it's easy enough to find that stuff out. But the content of the article should always come first.
3.30.2005 4:59pm
Former Ariticle Submissions Editor:
In reviewing articles for my top-20 law review, my 2L mind (which, of course, is what you're up against) was impressed by former articles in c.v.s, but also by clerkships, BIGLAW experience, and other honors. We didn't get many submissions from non-professors, but I would think that if a recent graduate (whether a judicial clerk or one in private practice) submitted one I would have been more likely to think of him as a "lightweight" than if he had merely stated in a cover letter that he has such and such honors/publications.
3.30.2005 5:02pm
Nobody Important (www):
So much for blind review by editors. I thought that was the trend at some reviews.
3.30.2005 5:13pm
F. Chad Copier (mail):
As a recent articles editor at a top-tier law school, I believe that a CV can definately help with getting an article noticed. During the "article seasons" hundreds upon hundreds of envelopes appear in the law review office like Harry Potter's Hogwarts letters. Reading all of them becomes impossible for a relatively small group of people. So, a sorting function comes into play out of necessity. First to go are articles submitted by students-nary a glance. Practicioners get close attention by some and the circular file by others. Articles by Professors from well-known law schools always get attention. Articles by Professors from everywhere else get mixed amount of attention depending on how close the deadline is for selecting articles and how far behind in class reading the editor is. Unfortunately, the reputation of the Professor almost never comes into play as an independent variable because the average incoming law student is likely aware of exactly zero law professors. After two years, certain people are known to the new Articles Editors, but generally only the superstars, and the Professors at their own school.
Thus, a good CV can tip the balance in determining whether to slog through another facinating 60 pager about the property rights of tree frogs or try to catch CSI Miami.

Good luck.
3.30.2005 5:16pm
Proud Gen Y Slacker (mail):
We definitely don't ask for them. I would look at one if it were included, but it won't get a crappy article published or keep a good one out.
3.30.2005 6:03pm
peter haberlandt (mail):
We generally preferred submissions from professors, but the fact that one is a professor can be conveyed without submitting a c.v. A c.v. does serve one useful function, but a function that may be duplicative in a sense. All things being equal, most law reviews would prefer to publish an article written by an oft-cited, oft-consulted, scholar because it stands to reason that an article written by such a scholar is more likely to be cited. Editors can't always tell whether an author is of this type, since not all of them are household names among law students, even l.rev. editors; although editors ought to be able to find out an author's citation frequency on lexis. So a c.v. can help to put the author in career context right from the get-go. Beyond that it's of limited value and I suspect disregarded by most editors. Those who blindly follow the impressiveness of a c.v. are ill-suited to the task and I suspect their journals suffer for it.
3.30.2005 6:04pm
Current Executive Articles Editor at top-tier school:
I think that Chad Copier's post is generally quite accurate, and I would recommend that almost anyone include a CV.

Let me state up front: The final decision on whether I extend an offer has nothing to do with the author's CV. If an author gets an offer, it is only after I have read the paper cover to cover, read the article editor's opinion of the piece, done some background research, debated the merits of the article with at least one law professor and with the editor-and-chief, etc.

That being said, not every article makes it to my desk. We received more than 2000 submissions last academic year, the large majority of which came over two six week long periods. My journal probably has more articles editors than most, but during crunch time they are still each looking at several dozen articles per week.

I may like to believe that they are giving each article a close read before making a decision, but the only way I can double-check is by rereading each article (My guess is that a week's worth of submissions during the peak season totals about 9000 pages). On top of discussing the best papers with professors, docketing several dozen expedite requests per day, studying for finals, and writing long winded comments on legal blogs, it is simply impossible to audit the individual editors. As far as I know, they read some articles closely, but skim others.

Consequently, an author's goal should be to reduce the risk that his or her article does not get a close read. My guess is that CVs help in two ways:

First, if you have a huge publication list from prestigious journals, an articles editor won't risk ignoring your paper, so submitting your CV instantly guarantees a close read.

Second, if you are a younger professor who has placed at least one or two articles with a good journal, that fact alone might just get you an offer from a middle-of-the-road journal. This offer, in turn, gets you into the expedite process, which might independently serve as a flag to the articles editor to pay close attention.

Only authors with few or no publications are out in the cold. For them, I'd suggest including an interesting cover letter that describes the importance of their piece, and then hope that they've written a very strong article. There are a lot of good law journals out there, so if you submit broadly, you'll catch the eye of at least a few editors and make it to a final read.
3.30.2005 6:20pm
overworked habeas clerk:
I served as Articles Editor of the my school's law journal during my last year of law school. I largely thought the CVs included with manuscripts I reviewed were superfluous. Famous professors don't need to announce who they are, and anyway CVs seem more appropriate for job applications than for publication requests. If I was ever curious about what else an author had written, I had Westlaw to tell me. It's my recollection that in general, professors at the bottom of the academic totem pole tended to include CVs. I didn't choose articles based on the author's prestige; I chose them based on other criteria.

However, I do strongly suggest a good, thoughtful, entertaining, no-more-than-one-page cover letter. I made the decision to publish one article based largely on the cover letter.
3.30.2005 9:39pm
I was a book review editor. Yes, I looked at resumes, but I was ashamed of myself for doing so.

If I found a good review of a good book (so rare!), I did not care about the resume. A short letter and pithy first page to a piece wins.
3.30.2005 11:06pm
Fmr. Editor:
I would recommend always including a c.v., much for the reasons that "Current Executive Articles Editor . . ." did. I would say that it is particularly important if you are writing in an obscure area or if your article challenges established doctrine in a particular area, as the information on a c.v. allows an articles editor to determine whether the author has written in the field previously.

You also start to run into a tragedy of the commons problem--many if not most other authors are submitting c.v.s, which can serve as a useful, if not altogether necessary, reference. Expecting over-worked articles editors to search for a publications list on their own is a gamble that many authors appear unwilling to take. At the top-tier specialty journal I worked on, selection never degenerated into a c.v. proxy battle, but it was a useful tool to ascertain past scholarly contributions in our area. Many times editors were left snickering that a poor article was written by someone at a top tier school, but at other times, it served to establish the author's practical and scholarly proficiency in an interesting but infrequently commented on area of the law.
3.31.2005 12:01am
I'm currently an editor on my law review and a c.v. is a definite must. Without one, the article [no matter how well written] has little, if any, chance of being selected for publication. With hundreds of submissions to read, the c.v. can make the author stand out in the crowd.
3.31.2005 12:35am
A law professor:
The best strategy may be different now that ExpressO exists. I used to not include a cv, but mention a couple of my better publications on my cover letter. I thought that including a CV would seem gauche. But now that ExpressO specifically invites CVs, and even more so now that ExpressO recommends them, including one no longer will seem like bragging. My guess is far more people are including CVs now than just a couple of years ago, and we may have reached a tipping point where the social norm has changed. So, I would include a CV unless there isn't anything on it that would help you.
3.31.2005 8:40am
hopeful future law prof:
Back when I was reviewing articles for my top-tier law review (late nineties), everything was blind review. From what I've heard lately, this is definitely not the norm. As a hopeful future law professor with a few prior publications but without the all-important law school letterhead, I definitely included my CV this round. Even if it only gets my article noticed at a few journals, that can be enough to start the expedite process, which, sad to say, almost everyone tries to game. It's a bad system (sorry, normative judgment!), but if you're going to use it, you might as well maximize your chances.
3.31.2005 8:52am
MJ (mail):
As a 2003 graduate of a mere third tier law school, I recently had an article accepted for publication by a fourth tier law school - and after reading all of the above, now consider it a miracle.

It's the classic Catch 22, all too often you have almost no hope of being considered for a reputable law review or journal unless you've already published several articles at reputable law reviews or journals.

Any reliance on a CV seems particularly misplaced in a decision to publish an academic article. An article should rise or fall on its merits, not who wrote it. The inclusion of a CV cannot shed any light on the merits of the article.
3.31.2005 8:55am
KW (mail):
In 2000-2001, when I was an articles editor for a top-5 journal, substantially less than half of the articles we got included a CV. The ones that did kind of stood out. If the CV backed up the article, then it might have been helpful. (e.g., "I've worked for the Inc. Fund for 20 years, and here is my article about housing discrimination"). If it was unrelated to the article, it didn't make any impact at all.

We pulled "likely-hot" pieces for quicker reads (so that Yale wouldn't beat us to them) mostly based on letterhead and reputation. A Sunstein or Bebchuk piece would get pulled right away.

I recall at least one case where the CV just made the author look silly. It was very long (6 or 7 pages, as I recall) and had everything under the sun in it. And -- not to put too fine a point on it -- the author hadn't done anything of note. If you've got a 7 page CV without a single publication in a top-15 journal, then you ought to shorten your CV when you're sending it to the top journals.
3.31.2005 10:09am
Frequently Berated:
I'm the (outgoing) head of the article department at a top 20 law review, and our selection committee was always glad to see a C.V. included with submitted pieces. It just makes our job easier. We do some basic research about all of the authors we seriously consider for publication, and at a minimum that means finding out (1) their track record of previous publications, and (2) their relevant teaching/work/clerkship/school history. For some authors, especially professors, that information is easy to track down on the web, for example on a law school site or with a Westlaw search. For others, especially practitioners and recent grads or clerks, it can be tougher. But either way, a C.V. gives us everything we want to know with zero research -- and it's usually a lot more complete than we could track down on our own. (Given our needs, I would recommend that authors send the 2-page version of their C.V., as opposed to the 12-page version -- we've seen both.)

I don't mean to suggest that an author's credentials are the most important factor we consider when making an offer. Great articles are great articles, and we ran a half-dozen pieces this year by authors with little or no prior publishing history. That said, we definitely do not conduct "blind review," and (contrary to the suggestion above) we have not heard of a major trend in that direction.
3.31.2005 10:17am
KW (mail):
Side note -- we got a few pieces (half a dozen, maybe) with some variation of the "guilt trip" cover letter or the "I'm smarter than you are" cover letter. That's the letter that says:

"I've submitted 40 articles to top-10 journals over the past 10 years and I've never gotten one picked up. I've clearly been ignored (unjustly!) because I teach at a less prestigious school.

"My last piece went to the University of South Alaska Law Review. However, my colleague Frank down the hall said that it was the best piece on Intellectual Property that he had seen in the past 20 years.

"It's a shame that the top journals didn't realize this. It's clear that I was rejected out of hand because I teach at the University of Southeastern Delaware. I hope that _your_ committee doesn't make the same mistake and reject me just because I teach at U. SE. Del."

I have to say, as an AE, that that sort of attempt to manipulate us or guilt-trip us _never_ worked. And from a results standpoint, we didn't pick up any of those pieces. Not out of hand, mind you -- the articles all get read -- but the guilt-trip/I'm smarter letter is almost always a blustery cover-up for a bad, bad article.

So I would advise submitters to avoid the guilt-trip letter (and any other gimmicks, and there are always a few) and use the cover letter to present their thesis and any relevant qualifications, and be done with it.
3.31.2005 10:19am
Michael E. Lopez (mail) (www):
I was an articles editor for UCLA... and not only would I ignore a CV included with an article, I'd be affirmatively annoyed at it. The articles department as a whole generally ignored those things, and either threw them away or just stapled them to the back of the cover letter and dumped it in the correspondence file.

We weren't in the business of publishing CV's, so we didn't bother reading them. To the extent that prior work was an issue -- the only thing that really mattered was name recognition.

-Michael E. Lopez
3.31.2005 10:33am
boring boring:
Given the time issues presented by the number of submissions in our mailboxes, we were certainly more apt to skim a CV as opposed to a recommendation letter from one of the prospective author's peers. If anything, a CV simply helped us to prioritize the order of review and was probably most helpful at the start of the publication season when we were still getting our feet wet. But I would echo several of the comments posted above in that once the field had been narrowed, the ultimate publication decision rested solely on the particular article's content and merit.
3.31.2005 10:46am
Former Articles Editor:
I would not only trash articles from people who went to schools ranked lower than 15, but professors who teach at those schools. It was obvious that the quality of work was, and would always be, lower. Also, if someone had a CV which included more than one publication in a 2d-tier journal, it was trashed by me. There really isn't much point in considering articles from people who want to pander to people who could not get into real law schools.

If we didn't have enough articles, we would just ask professors to submit articles from students they were played golf or slept with.
3.31.2005 12:06pm
maximum carnage:
I am a current top-30 articles editor and find the cvs helpful. part of our review process includes westlaw searchs of prior publications by the author, citations to the author, and prior publications on the same topic. cvs have saved me some searches.
3.31.2005 12:15pm
frankcross (mail):
A colleague of mine submitted his vita along with an article in this round and got a nice rejection letter from a top law review, lamenting that they could not publish his submission, entitled Vita, but that they hoped he would continue to submit to them.
3.31.2005 12:25pm
Former Articles Editor:
During my tenure at a top-of-the-heap law review, a substantial portion of articles were accompanied by cvs, which we ignored. (Okay, we might have ridiculed one or two around the office that jumped out at us.) If the author possesses very significant experience that should color our review (e.g., here's what I've learned about international law from being an ambassador), the author include it in the cover letter. The abstract in the cover letter was the most significant addendum to the article, and its quality greatly influenced our decisionmaking.
3.31.2005 1:03pm
ACW (mail):
For Book Review Submissions Only: As a former book review editor at a law review with a dedicated book review issue, I found CVs very helpful when a review PROPOSAL was submitted. (We considered full drafts of reviews as well as review proposals.) When a full draft of a review was submitted, a CV was less important. But for those who merely proposed writing a review rather than actually having a draft to shop around, the CV would show whether we could trust the submitter to follow through. If we didn't get a CV with such a submission, we would do independent research to find what the review author had already done. Sending a CV just saved us time. It wasn't a matter of "where has this person published" but a matter of "if we give them a shot at this, are they going to let us down; do they know what they are agreeing to." As a final aside, if you are sending a book review in and your CV doesn't have many (any) publications, your chances of getting the review accepted are exponentially better if you send a completed draft rather than a proposal or outline of a review.
3.31.2005 1:36pm
New Articles Editor (mail):
I am a new articles editor at a top law review. I think that a CV can be very helpful, as it is usually information that I have an interest in. If you are a prof with a long list of presitigious publications, I will make sure to give it a close read. But if you are a young scholar, that should of course be taken into consideration as well. We are always interested in how the article fits into the rest of your work. Is it the main issue that you have been dealing with for 20 years? Does it build off a number of previous articles (and perhaps not say anything new)? Or is this a new journey off of your normal beaten path. All of these are important to editors as we try to figure out how important your piece is and try to somehow figure out how it might be received in academia and practice. Honestly, including a CV makes my job easier. Otherwise, I will still have to track down some info on you, likely from your school's website. Some schools make it notoriously difficult to access any type of CV related info or even a representative list of publications. The only situation where I can see this not helping is for professors who have been writing for a long time but have failed to place anything in a top journal. But then again, I think that is a valid concern. Of course, all of this is not to say that each piece is not read carefully and given careful consideration. Actually, the only times I can think of when CV-related things are discussed are positive in nature. I cannot think of any time that we discussed someone's CV and had anything negative to say as a result. In the end, if we want the article, then your CV will either solidify the decision or have no impact. I strongly encourage it.
3.31.2005 2:09pm
Chess Geek (mail):
AUTHORS: Please submit shorter CVs - I just want to know what your publishing history is like - I don't need to know about your media appearances or your birthdate. A few articles and books suffices if you have them.

Also, publishing history matters in prioritizing reading order - Expedites also will make us read your article faster - But the fact that you graduated from Yale or Harvard doesn't help because most professors are from Yale or Harvard.

Just remember what you learned in high school or college - because a well-written cover letter or abstract will take you much further than a prestigious CV.

Finally: Under no circumstances would I ever exclude a piece because the author is from such-and-such school, or has zero publishing history.
3.31.2005 5:53pm
Anti Law-Rev:
It's always distressing to see one's worst impressions of law review editors and of the legal profession are not only frequently true, but now increasinly built-in as part of the system. I can say I'm a recent law school graduate, who returned to study law after another career, I'm already disgusted by the patronizing and caste-system mentality of law firm, law schools and law reviews. A pox on all of you!!
4.1.2005 6:31am
Editor (www):
I'm a articles editor at a top tier law school. I say always include the fact, our website says so, and if the author doesn't just send it in the first time, I'm gonna email and request it. So, very simply, it saves me time, which is always nice.

As for whether they are important, yes, to a degree. By far the most important thing it does is give credibility to the author--no, not credibility that only attaches to professors. We get so many submissions--some from poli sci professors, some from students, some from practicing lawyers--that we can't tell who to trust. If you just state your current occupation (and it isn't something like "Bar Bri Rep" or "LSAT instructor"), then we feel somewhat comfortable evaluating your work seriously. We are, after all, law students, and thus don't know a lot about many areas of the law. If we feel like you do, we will be more inclined to accept your work on a subject that might otherwise seem obscure and confusing.
4.7.2005 2:08am