Top Law Reviews to end “Exploding Offers” and Provide 7 Day Period

April 19th, 2011

This interesting joint letter from a number of elite law reviews (including Boston University, Chicago, Harvard, Minnesota, Stanford, William & Mary, and Yale) have pledge to stop offering exploding offers, and will give every author at least 7 days to accept an offer of publication.

From an institutional perspective, this is quite interesting. First, I am amazed that editors from these journals (and not others) have managed to work together to overcome any collective action problems and free rider issues. The exploding offer cartel only works so long as everyone abides by it. If a few journals drop it, then others will have to drop it in response. This may give modest proposal to wean law reviews off of the bluebook feasible.

Second, I am surprised that parties have actually halted the race-to-the-bottom that is the expedite game. The journals recognized that this process, though it may benefit individual journals that get lucky, has a “highly corrosive effect on all of us.” Further, they recognize that it benefits established authors and hurts new authors: “has led many law journals to establish a twotrackprocess for article review: a fast track for widely recognized authors, whose submissionsare more likely to elicit exploding offers; a slower track for younger authors and authors whoteach at lower-ranked institutions. Many deserving pieces in the latter category never get to thefront of the line.”

Third, let’s look at the journals not on the list: Columbia? NYU? Virginia? Michigan? Nortwhestern? I’m curious at what point negotiations with those journals broke down, and whether the collective action problem was just too string.

Fourth, I love the risk taking. The Law Review game is a hot mess, so it takes so risk to improve it:

No doubt giving up a practice to which we’ve grown accustomed entails some risk. Butwe are confident that the risks of continuing the present race to the bottom are substantially greater. We invite all other student-edited law journals to join this letter, and we welcome anongoing discussion with both journals and authors about how best to work together effectively.

Fifth, will any others join now? Perhaps even Columbia and the others that did not join this initial batch?

H/T TaxProf Blog

Update: Jack Balkin links to a statement from the California Law Review regarding their decision not to join this statement.