TaxProf Blog

Editor: Paul L. Caron, Dean
Pepperdine University School of Law

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Bainbridge: Are Elite Law Review Word Limits a Joke?

HYStephen Bainbridge (UCLA), Law Review Word Limits Go Unenforced .... at Least at Harvard and Yale:

A while back, a group of elite law reviews announced with great fanfare that they were fed up with long law review articles and weren't going to put up with it anymore. ... Each of the law reviews in question adopted supposedly strict word limits on the articles they would accept. ...

[The Yale Law Journal policy] "strongly encourage submissions of fewer than 25,000 words, including footnotes (roughly 50 Journal pages). ... For submissions that exceed these word counts, length will be a factor that weighs significantly against acceptance of the manuscript.

Harvard Law Review's policy similarly claims that ... "The Review strongly prefers articles under 25,000 words in length — the equivalent of 50 law review pages — including text and footnotes. The Review will not publish articles exceeding 30,000 words — the equivalent of 60 law review pages — except in extraordinary circumstances."

Steve counted the articles in the most recent volumes of the Harvard Law Review and Yale Law Journal and found that none complied with these guidelines:

So are law review word limits just a joke? The problem is that after checking Harvard and Yale, I got bored. So I don't know if there are other journals out there enforcing the rules more strictly. At the very least, however, it seems that Harvard and Yale are just joshing us. So my advice is: Write the article to the length you need and ignore the word limits.

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