I'm currently finishing up my J.D., and I plan on practicing law for at least a few years. However, I'm also considering returning to school to study CS. In the meantime, I plan on researching and attempting to publish at least a few articles - perhaps some related to cyber law.

Given the less rigorous nature of law review, how would an admission committee view these?

Also, does the prestige of the journal matter - i.e. Harvard Journal of Law & Technology vs. Michigan State Law Review?


First, I don't agree much with aeismail's assessment that review articles “may carry less weight overall than a traditional research article”. A good review article is very hard to write, because this requires a very high level of understanding of the existing research and literature, as well as strategic thinking to discuss what will be of importance in times to come. To me, this is actually very much harder for a PhD student to have than publishing a “regular” research article. I think most committees would agree.

Now, how will the committee recognized a good review article? Ideally, by reading it and being impressed at the clarity and level of the discussion it displays. In the real world? Probably by the name and prestige of the journal it was published in.

So, my advice is: publish good stuff, in good venues. It matters more that you get to publish things, than what exactly you publish, as long as it is good! (Yeah, that sounds trivial, but you asked for it!)

  • Reading and synthesizing literature is one thing; applying it to do something new is another.
    – aeismail
    Apr 16 '13 at 18:27
  • I think the important part of this discussion is the distinction between what type of law review article is being published. Plenty of law review articles suggest new policy and procedure to alleviate existing legal problems. Is this not something new? I think these are the type that are difficult to write but also highly regarded (at least in legal academia).
    – Jester87
    Apr 16 '13 at 18:40
  • @aeismail synthesizing literature is not a review, it's a bibliographic notice; review involves some critical thinking
    – F'x
    Apr 16 '13 at 19:56

The higher the quality the journal you can publish in, the better—but that's a truism.

On the other hand, I don't know how much weight an admissions committee would give to a law review publication, because these tend to be synthetic papers rather than creative papers: that is, a law review acts much like a literature review paper, instead of a paper where you've done original research and found an interesting result. Consequently, it's not fully reflective of what you would be doing as a researcher, and thus may carry less weight overall than a traditional research article.

  • 1
    Many law reviews actually do publish original research, (I'm more aware of those typically oriented to some pertinent social science research, but that may just be because of my field).
    – Andy W
    Apr 16 '13 at 17:16

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