Law Review Online Companions: A Scholarly Publication Opportunity for Faculty & Law Students

If you are searching for an opportunity to publish your scholarly work in a “short form” scale — and a relatively quick publication time frame — a law review online companion may be just the option for you.  The first law review online companion, Yale’s The Pocket Part (now called The Yale Law Journal Online or YLJ Online) was first published in 2005.   When Matthew Bodie wrote his essay on law review companions two years later for the launch of Connecticut Law Review’s CONNtemplations there were eight online companions.   Today, there are over 50.

While variations exist, law review online companions generally have the following characteristics:

  • Short (sometimes very short) in length.  The range is anywhere from 1500 words to a maximum of 10,000 words; a fairly typical average is around 3000 to 4000 words.  A few limit by page number, 15 pages being about average.
  • Lightly footnoted.  Note that the word count above generally includes footnotes.
  • Timely, relevant pieces.  Online companions publish shorter pieces with more immediacy than is possible in the traditional law review process.
  • Quick acceptance and expedited publication.  Again, turnaround varies, but because of the desire for timely, newsworthy pieces, the process is expedited.  Some may notify authors as quickly as within a week of submission, if selected.  A few are more stringent and have a longer more rigorous review process (e.g., North Carolina Law Review’s Addendum).
  • Rolling submissions and frequent publication.  A good number accept submissions on a rolling basis and publish often throughout the year.
  • Submission via email to the editors of the online companion rather than through an online submission service such as ExpressO or Scholastica.
  • Traditional print law review citation to works.  Publication to the website may also be formatted and paginated like the print volumes, but not always.
  • Online publication only — no print versions.  Pieces are placed permanently on the law review companion website.  A growing number are now available on Lexis and Westlaw, and a couple appear on HeinOnline (PENNumbra and Addendum).

The goal of online companions is primarily to provide a forum for thoughtful responses to traditional print law review articles and for the inclusion of shorter forms of original legal scholarship on timely current legal issues.  Here’s what some online companions have to say about what their mission is:

  • Maryland Law Review’s Endnotes looks to “facilitate more robust discussion of [their] print articles and quickly disseminate commentary on important judicial decisions, legal policy issues, and legislative developments.”
  • The California Law Review online companion, The Circuit, states it seeks to publish a “wide variety of timely legal commentaries, essays, response pieces, reviews, debates, and student work.”
  • de•novo, Cardozo’s online companion, says it is a “home for shorter articles on timely legal issues … [and] also hosts ‘mini-symposia’ that feature articles from professors and practitioners across political and sociological lines in order to create a lively debate on a selected legal issue.”
  • Southern California Law Review’s Postscript notes that their online companion permits them to “publish a wider variety of worthwhile material than [they] can accommodate in [their] printed journal.”

The actual content accepted by individual companions can vary quite a bit, although most seek to publish a wide variety of timely legal commentaries, essays, response pieces to print journal articles, reviews, debates, and student work.  Some are more restrictive and may limit pieces to responses and reactions to articles published in their print journal or limit pieces to state-specific and/or federal circuit legal developments and issues.  Texas Law Review’s Dicta, for example, is quite specific — it focuses solely on reviews of “recently published books that are of interest to the legal academy.”

For more complete details, consult the helpful lists below:

  • Colin Miller’s Submission Guide for Online Law Review Supplements, Version 6.2 is available on SSRN.  His list of 46 online companions includes the journal title and link, types of pieces accepted, submission information, and submission format.
  • Texas Wesleyan School of Law maintains a PDF list that includes not only online companions, but also law reviews with blogs, and online-only law reviews (of the over 100 listed, 55 are identified as online companions).  The list provides the publication name, website URL, identifies type of publication, description of works accepted, and whether available on Lexis and Westlaw.  Also, when available, the list indicates whether the online companion is limited to responses and comments, whether it allows creative pieces, how frequently it is published, timeline for response to a submission, information on the submission process, and word length limit/recommendation.
  • Weidener School of Law publishes a list of 43 law review online companions.  The list includes the URLS for the print journal and for submission to the online supplement, the name of the online companion, and a brief description of the submission requirements.

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