April 06, 2005
Law Review Offer Times & Law School Prestige
Posted by Gordon Smith

My Times & Seasons co-blogger (and rising lawprof) Kaimi Wenger has provided the following chart from a law school seminar paper on expedited review. The chart shows offer times from Top 25 law reviews, some of which (for lack of a response from the journals) are inferred from Kaimi's experience as the recipient of expedite requests as an Articles Editor of the Columbia Law Review. In the paper, Kaimi notes the "rough correlation ... between expedite time and school prestige."


Click on the image for a larger version. The numbers on the y-axis are days.

UPDATE: You may have noticed that some schools are missing from the chart. Kaimi notes in his paper that Stanford and Penn claimed to have no set policy; Harvard and Chicago both said they didn't give deadlines; GW was establishing new rules at the time he wrote the paper; and Texas, Washington, and Minnesota didn't respond to his request for information and Kaimi didn't find any expedite information on those journals in the Columbia Law Review's records.


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Comments (14)

1. Posted by current editor on April 7, 2005 @ 9:19 | Permalink

FWIW, I think Gtown is down to 24hrs these days. (Based on expedites to my journal from Gtown).

2. Posted by Gordon Smith on April 7, 2005 @ 9:28 | Permalink

One of the interesting implications of Kaimi's chart is that market forces seem to be organizing law review offers. Georgetown may be ranked high enough that it can get away with 24 hour offers, but I suspect that a school ranked not very much lower would not succeed in level-jumping. That is, they would be punished for attempting to make exploding offers. Either that, or they would find Alan Meese and others negotiating around the policy to get more time.

3. Posted by Kaimi on April 7, 2005 @ 10:48 | Permalink

I agree, Gordon, that market forces shape the deadline times that a journal can get away with. It's my observation (much less rigorously documented than my law school paper) that in general, journals outside of the top 50 nearly all give 2 weeks or more. (I've heard from one person that Rutgers is an exception, but I can't confirm that firsthand).

When I get some free time (and some RA hours), I may try an update, since the chart's data is currently four years old.

A particularly interesting development is the emergence of early-acceptance programs. For example, I believe both Duke and Georgetown have programs where you can skip to the head of the line, in exchange for a commitment not to expedite.

4. Posted by on April 7, 2005 @ 10:58 | Permalink

I wonder how Duke and Gtown stop every lower-level author from taking advantage of that offer?

I'm curious at what point people would reject 1 hr offers. For instance, would anyone except top scholars turn down Duke when they had no other offer just because Duke only gave them at hr?

What about Wm & Mary? Turn them down if they only give you an hr?

5. Posted by Thom on April 7, 2005 @ 11:48 | Permalink

I am curious what exactly one is expected to do with the one hour (or even 24 hours)?

6. Posted by Thom on April 7, 2005 @ 11:49 | Permalink

I am curious what exactly one is expected to do with the one hour (or even 24 hours)?

7. Posted by Current Editor Obviously not at Gtown or Columbia on April 7, 2005 @ 11:55 | Permalink

24 hrs is enough to expedite to other journals. I think authors should punish 24 hr time limits by going with other equivalently ranked journals that give longer deadlines.

8. Posted by Gordon Smith on April 7, 2005 @ 11:56 | Permalink

Thom, I think the answer is "nothing." That's the point. It's really a take-it-or-leave-it offer, unless another review is already well along in the process.

9. Posted by Kate Litvak on April 7, 2005 @ 12:05 | Permalink

I am afraid I don't see a correlation here. Of the top ten schools, two have no deadlines at all and two have no policies on the subject. If they are coded properly (as "maximum deadline" for Harvard and Chicago and some kind of de-facto average for Penn and Stanford, which we are not told), you may not see the trend even for top schools. The rest of the pack look pretty random to me, with North Carolina and Illinois have roughly similar or shorter deadlines than Boalt, Georgetown, and UCLA. I’d want to see correlation coefficients and statistical significance before making a “market forces” conclusion.

10. Posted by Kaimi on April 7, 2005 @ 12:31 | Permalink


Yes, 24 hours is pretty tight.

On the other hand, who exactly does one expedite _to_, from Columbia? Harvard, Yale. Maybe Chicago or Stanford, depending on tastes.

So 24 hours gives you time to check up on Harvard and Yale, and see if they're already well along in their process, and if so, to ask them for a reply in 24 hours.

It's my understanding that during my year, _two_ out of fourteen authors tried to expedite from us. The bottom line is that Columbia's deadline is something that is rarely used. The normal conversation is more like this:

"Hi, you've got an offer from Columbia."
"Great. I accept."

I suspect that that's why Harvard, Chicago, and Stanford all have either no deadline or no set policy. It's really not like many people expedite from Stanford or Chicago. And it's just about inconceivable that anyone would expedite from Harvard. (Why would any author want to do that??).

(But, I have also heard secondhand that sometimes Stanford makes exploding offers. I don't know if this is true, but if so, it would be an interesting data point).


I agree that the correlation is rough. I do think it's significant, though. Outside of the top 6, there are no 24-hour deadlines. Inside the top 6, there are no set deadlines that are more than 24 hours.

If you look at the chart of accompanying data (which Gordon didn't post, but which I'll be happy to send you) you'll see that many schools gave a range of values. USC said that they give "7 to 14 days" for example. I plotted maximum values on this chart, because it seemed most consistent with a measurement of market power and a journal's ability to bring authors to heel. But I'm aware of the limits of the data, and I drew very cautious, tentative conclusions in my paper.

At some point in the future, when I have RA hours and a bit of free time, I'll probably revisit the question and collect some more data.

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