Publishing in Law Reviews and Journals

Publishing in law reviews and journals-home, deciding where to publish, article submission services, author rights, sharing and depositing your papers, conferences and symposia, books, articles and other resources, writing competitions, videos of classes and presentations, tutorial and quiz, getting help.

Have you thought about trying to publish in a law review or journal?  This guide contains a variety of resources to help you in that process.  

Submit to DASH, Harvard University's open access repository

Fill out our form  to submit your paper to Harvard University's open access repository, DASH  

This guide is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License .

You may reproduce any part of it for noncommercial purposes as long as credit is included and it is shared in the same manner. 

Comparing Law Journal Impact Factor/Prestige

Over the years, many ranking systems for law journals have evolved, incorporating a variety of methodologies and factors, including frequency of citation, prominence of author, etc..  Although such rankings can be useful for getting an idea of the prestige or "impact factor" of a journal, they should be taken with a grain of salt and in consideration of other factors that might be important to you.  Ranking of journals is frequently a subject of articles and blog postings.  Play close attention to how the data was compiled---e.g. through database searches, opinions of experts in the field, etc..

Law Journal Submissions and Ranking The Washington & Lee Law School Library produces this site that lists law journals by subject, country and other factors, and allows users to rank journals by impact factor or immediacy index. (Both are based on citation counts more or less, see ranking methodology ). Provides contact and submission information.

Allen Rostron & Nancy Levit,   I nformation for Submitting Articles to Law Reviews & Journals  (2021).

Michael Goodyear,  Information for Submitting Articles to Specialty & Non-Flagship Law Journals  (2021)

Nancy Levit et al,  Submission of Law Student Articles for Publication  (last updated 2016).

ISI Journal Citation Reports (Harvard ID and PIN required) Ranks journals in a wide range of disciplines including about 100 law journals. Rankings are based on citation counts in thousands of journals in the sciences and social sciences. From the initial screen, select Social Sciences Edition and View a group of journals by Subject Category (the default). On the next screen, select Law and View journal data by either Impact Factor, Immediacy Index, or Cited Half Life.

Most Cited Journals on HeinOnline This top 100 list is based on HeinOnline's citator feature called ScholarCheck. You can also use ScholarCheck to create your own metric. They also have a collection of most-cited law journals .

Eigenfactor This is a relatively new system that ranks journals as Google ranks websites (mapping relationship structures). The coverage of law is not comprehensive, but it is useful for looking at journals in the context of the social sciences generally.

Google Scholar Metrics Google Scholar launched publication metrics in April 2012. They provide five-year h-index and h-median numbers for ranking purposes.

Bryce Clayton Newell, Meta-Ranking, Law Journal Meta-Ranking 2020 Edition, Meta-Ranking of Flagship US Law Reviews 

Measuring Quality - Writing for and Publishing in Law Reviews (Choosing Where to Submit and Publish)   A great guide compiled by the Gallagher Library at the University of Washington Law School, explaining the most common ranking factors, including important an extensive selection of articles and surveys.

Brian T. Detweiler, May It Please the Court: A Longitudinal Study of Judicial Citation to Academic Legal Periodicals

U.S. News To Publish Law Faculty Scholarly Impact Ranking In 2021

Accessibility of the Content

Is the journal available in places where scholars will find, and hopefully cite to, its contents? Some considerations include:

Is it open access or freely available?  Check the journal's website for contents and the journal's policy.   You can also check the  Directory of Open Access Journals , but the coverage for law is not extensive. 

Is it in Westlaw, Lexis and other subscription databases? 

Is it indexed by Legaltrac (a.k.a Legal Resource Index)? See title list .

Is it indexed by Index to Legal Periodicals and Books? Consult journal directory . Select Index to Legal Periodicals and Books, then Display List.

Is it included in Tables of Contents Services, such as Current Index to Legal Periodicals? (See title list .)

Selected Directories of Law Journals

In addition to Washington and Lee's Law Review Submissions and Ranking website , there are several directories that can be used to find out more information about law journals that are currently being published.

Short-Form Publishing

Many law reviews now have blogs and websites that accept shorter submissions. See Colin Miller's Submission Guide for Online Law Review Supplements, Version 7.0  and Information for Submitting to Online Law Review Companions by Bridget J. Crawford :: SSRN  Washington & Lee also lists selected ones on its   Law Journals: Submissions and Ranking website .


Scholastica pilot program.

The Harvard Law School is piloting a program to subsidize Scholastica journal submissions for current students with publishable academic work. 


To access this support, you must receive sign-off from your faculty supervisor that your article is ready for submission and/or that submission will further your academic goals.

Before we activate your account, please attend a Library workshop or set up an appointment with a librarian to discuss strategy and how to select journals for submission. We also encourage you to review the  Law Library’s Guide to Publishing in Law Reviews and Journals.

How to Participate

Send a request using your Harvard email to [email protected] . Include or separately forward the approval from your faculty supervisor. 

How it Works

Once we receive your request and faculty approval and you have attended training or met with a librarian,  Library staff will add you to our Scholastica account. Once you acknowledge our invitation, you will be free to begin your submissions. Your account will remain active through the end of the pilot unless you reach your maximum number of submissions

Submission Levels

Note:  Please keep track of your journal submissions and notify us when you reach 50, as Scholastica does not limit them automatically. 

NOTE: ExpressO shut down its services.  The last date for Law Review submissions through its service was March 31, 2021.  Its complete shutdown of services was June 30, 2021.


Allen Rostron and Nancy Levit compiled a table of journal policies for publication, Allen Rostron & Nancy Levit  Information for Submitting Articles to Law Reviews & Journals  (2021).

Sherpa/RoMEO  is a searchable database of publisher's general policies regarding copyright and the self-archiving of journal articles on the web and in Open Access repositories.  Each entry provides a summary of the publisher's policy, including what version of an article can be deposited, where it can be deposited, and any conditions that are attached to that deposit. 

How You Can Submit an Article

Journals have different policies for receiving submissions.  Your best starting place is to check the journal's website, which usually provides details about its policy.  We have collected on this page some potential resources that you can use for submitting an article.

Learn about Author Rights

If you do get an acceptance for publication, you might be asked to sign an author agreement/contract with the publisher.  Some standard agreements require things such as transferring copyright or prohibiting what you can do with your own work.  See Benjamin J. Keele,  Advising Faculty on Law Journal Publication Agreements  for a brief basic review of terms to consider.

SPARC Author Rights

Scholar's Copyright Addendum Engine

Hosted by Science Commons, you can enter the article information and choose the rights you want to retain and generate a standard addendum on pdf  to provide for the publisher's consideration.  

Keep Your Copyrights

Developed  by the Kernochan Center for Law, Media, and the Arts and the Program on Law & Technology at Columbia Law School , this website provides a good introduction to author rights and samples of contract language.

Creative Commons Licenses

Resources to learn about journal copyright and self-archiving policies.

Journal publication agreements vary widely, but there are some resources that help authors get an idea of what a journal's standard policy has typically been.  While the journal publication agreement itself must always be reviewed, looking at these resources at the time of submission can be helpful, particularly if it is important for you to retain certain rights in your work.  Regardless of what a publisher's standard agreement states, you can always try to negotiate different terms. If the publisher is unwilling to budge from its position, you then need to decide how important it is to you to publish in that particular journal.

Working papers and self-archiving

Regardless of your plans for formal publication of your work, you are encouraged to deposit your student papers with the university's open access repository, DASH . Doing so will enable you to share your work with other members of the Harvard community, as well as the world at large.  If you are concerned about making your content available open on the Internet, you also have the option of submitting only the metadata (e.g. title, your name). See HLS Student Papers Series in DASH for details.

You might also want to deposit your paper (or its metadata) in SSRN or another working paper repository to associate yourself with the work and make it available for feedback from others in the field.  Scholars frequently make their "working papers" or drafts available for early feedback and reaction from colleagues.

The SSRN Legal Scholarship Network hosts research paper series for academic and other research organizations such as the  Harvard Law School, Public Law & Legal Theory Research Paper Series .  Scholars can publish their work in a large number of law-related e-journals within SSRN's Legal Scholarship Network's four areas including Law  & Economics, Public Law & Legal Theory, Legal Studies and Law Research Center Papers. 

Author Identification

Giving the proper author credit for research is the goal of Open Researcher and Contributor ID ( ORCID ) iDs.   ORCID is a non-profit, community-driven, Open Access effort to create a registry of unique researcher identifiers.

“ORCID provides a persistent digital identifier that distinguishes you from every other researcher and, through integration in key research workflows such as manuscript and grant submission, supports automated linkages between you and your professional activities ensuring that your work is recognized.”

As a benefit to our HLS scholars who regularly publish in SSRN , it is now possible to edit the personal information page in your SSRN account to link to your ORCID Record.  Register here for your new ORCID.

Research Profile Services

This resource tracks academic conferences worldwide, including ones concerning law.  E-mail alerts are available.

A Service from the University of Pittsburgh School of Law & University of Washington School of Law, which tracks Law-Related Calls for Papers, Conferences, and Workshops .  You can sign up for alerts of new additions.

Annuals and Surveys Appearing in Legal Periodicals

Selected books

how to write law research paper

Other Guides

Blogs/Current Awareness

HLS also offers many prizes for its students papers generally. See Harvard Law School Writing Prizes for more information.

Often included in many student writing competitions is the opportunity to have your work published in a journal. See Awards and Competitions (HLS Program on the Legal Profession) for a list of competitions.

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how to write law research paper

How to do legal research in 3 steps

Knowing where to start a difficult legal research project can be a challenge. But if you already understand the basics of legal research, the process can be significantly easier—not to mention quicker.

So, whether you are a student still in law school or a seasoned attorney with years of experience, having solid research skills is crucial to be able to craft a winning argument. This is why it is so important to know how to perform legal research, including where to start and the steps to follow.

Step 1: What is legal research, and where do I start?

Black's law dictionary defines legal research as “[t]he finding and assembling of authorities that bear on a question of law." But what does that actually mean? Essentially, it means that legal research is the process you use to identify and find the laws—including statutes, regulations, and court opinions—that apply to the facts of your case.

In most instances, the purpose of legal research is to find support for a specific legal issue or decision. For example, attorneys must conduct legal research if they need court opinions (that is, case law) to back up a legal argument they are making in a motion or brief filed with the court.

Alternatively, lawyers may need legal research to simply provide clients with accurate legal guidance. And in the case of law students, they often use legal research to complete memos and briefs for class. But these are just a few of the situations in which legal research is necessary.

Key questions to ask yourself when starting legal research

Before you start looking for laws and court opinions, you first need to define the scope of your legal research project. There are several key questions you can use to help do this.

What are the facts?

Always gather the key facts so you know the "who, what, why, when, where, and how" of your case. And take the time to write everything down, especially since you will likely need to include a statement of facts in an eventual filing or brief anyway. Even if you don't think a fact may be relevant now, write it down because it may turn out to be relevant later. These facts will also be helpful when identifying your legal issue.

What is the actual legal issue?

You will never know what to actually research if you don't know what your legal issue is. Does your client need help collecting money from an insurance company following a car accident involving a negligent driver? How about a criminal case involving the exclusion of evidence found during an alleged illegal stop?

No matter the legal research project, you must identify the relevant legal problem as well as the outcome or relief sought. This information will guide your research so you can stay focused and on topic.

What is the relevant jurisdiction?

Don't cast your net too wide when it comes to legal research—meaning, you should focus on the relevant jurisdiction. For example, does your case deal with federal or state law? And if it is state law, which state? You may find a case in California state court that is exactly on point, but it won't be very helpful if your legal project involves New York law.

Where to start legal research: the library or online?

In years past, future attorneys were trained in law school to do their research in the library. But now, pretty much everything from the library—and more—can be found online. And while you can certainly still use the library if you want, you will probably be costing yourself valuable time if you do.

When it comes to online research, some people start with free legal research options, including search engines like Google or Bing. But if you want to make sure your legal research is comprehensive, you will want to use an online research service designed specifically for the law, such as Westlaw . Not only do online solutions like Westlaw have all the legal sources you need, but they also include Artificial Intelligence (AI) and other tools that can help make quick work of your legal research.

Step 2: How to find relevant case law and other primary sources of law

Now that you have gathered the facts and know your legal issue, the next step is knowing what to look for. After all, you will need law to support your legal argument, whether you are providing guidance to a client or writing an internal memo, brief, or some other legal document.

But what type of law do you need? The answer: primary sources of law. Some of the more important types of primary law include:

Searching for primary sources of law

So, if it's primary law you want, it makes sense to begin searching there first, right? Not so fast. While you will need primary sources of law to support your case, in many instances, it is much easier—and a more efficient use of your time—to begin your search within secondary sources such as practice guides, treatises, and legal articles.

Why? Because secondary sources provide you with a thorough overview of legal topics, meaning you don't have to start your research from scratch. After secondary sources, you can move on to primary sources of law.

For example, while no two legal research projects are the same, the order in which you will want to search different types of sources may look something like this:

Keep in mind, though, legal research isn't always a linear process. You may start out going from source to source as outlined above, and then find yourself needing to go back to secondary sources once you have a better grasp of the legal issue. In other instances, you may even find the answer you are looking for in a source not listed above, like a sample brief that was filed with the court by another attorney. Ultimately, you need to go where the information takes you.

Step 3: Make sure you are using “good” law

One of the most important steps with every legal research project is to verify that you are using “good" law—meaning a court hasn't invalidated it or struck it down in some way. After all, it probably won't look good to a judge if you cite a case that has been overruled or you use a statute that has been deemed unconstitutional. It doesn't necessarily mean you can never cite these sources; you just need to take a closer look before you do.

The simplest way to find out if something is still good law is to use a legal tool known as a citator, which will show you subsequent cases that have cited your source as well as any negative history, including if it has been overruled, reversed, questioned, or merely differentiated.

For instance, if a case, statute, or regulation has any negative history—and therefore may no longer be good law—KeyCite, which is the citator on Westlaw, will warn you. Specifically, KeyCite will show a flag or icon at the top of the document along with a little blurb about the negative history. This allows you to quickly know if there may be anything you need to worry about.

Some examples of these flags and icons include:

Another bonus of using a citator like KeyCite is that is also provides a list of other cases that merely cite your source—it can lead to additional sources you previously didn't know about.

Perseverance is key when it comes to legal research

Given that legal research is a complex process, it likely comes as no surprise that this guide cannot provide you with everything you need to know.

There is a reason why there are entire law school courses and countless books focused solely on legal research methodology. In fact, many attorneys will spend their entire careers honing their research skills—and even then, they may not have perfected the process.

So, if you are just beginning, don't get discouraged if you find legal research difficult — almost everyone does at first. With enough time, patience, and dedication, you can master the art of legal research.

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  1. Legal Research Strategy

    Annotated codes are a great place to start your research. They combine statutory language with citations to cases, regulations, secondary sources, and other relevant statutes. This can quickly connect you to the most relevant cases related to a particular law. Unannotated Codes provide only the text of the statute without editorial additions.

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    How to Form a Reference List for a Research Paper in Law A reference page lists all the sources that are used in the research paper. Whether the information is taken from the book, websites, or journals, it should be correctly referenced, so that the reader can easily retrieve it.