November 03, 2005
Lead Article? Who Cares?
Posted by geoffrey manne

It's not that I can't come up with my own topics, it's just that David keeps anticipating me. So, once again, to pursue tangentially a point David raised --

I think at least a few of our (lawprofs') perceptions of what goes on in the law review black box may be under-informed. Here's an example: I often notice on resumes or other self-promoting materials that an author will point out that his or her article is the "lead article" in a law review issue, which is to say (I believe) that it comes first among the articles in the issue. I assume this is pointed out because it is believed  that "first" is a place of honor, supposedly indicating a perception by the editors of the article's superiority. But is there any basis for this? Does anyone really know how editors choose to order an issue's articles and whether there is any consistency here? My most recent article is the "lead article" in its issue.  It also happens that -- I'm sure only coincidentally -- the articles are placed in alphabetical order by author's last name. 

And what basis, really, is there for supposing that "first" is best?  That's one paradigm, sure.  But a Straussian editor might think the real place of honor is smack in the middle.  And a savvy behavioral theorist might place it at the end.

I realize that this matter is likely becoming moot as SSRN and Westlaw grow in importance.  But other perceptions (like the one noted by David in his most recent post) of law review editor behavior are surely similarly under-informed. 

Any law review editors out there want to comment on the "lead article" phenomenon or other misunderperceptions by lawprofs?

UPDATE:  Arizona informs me that it ordered the articles in my issue alphabet-- . . . I mean, by quality.

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