Is Brian Leiter being too hard on the student editors of the Fordham Law Review? Fordham’s letter, which arrived in today’s mail, describes the elite law journals’ length policy, announced earlier this year, and then:
The Fordham Law Review . . . disagrees with this policy. We believe that quality is more important than quantity. Therefore, we will continue to focus only on merit in choosing what articles to accept. We seek to publish outstanding articles that will have a substantial impact on scholarly or public debate, without regard to a rigid page count.
Some of the tone of the letter, and some of its text, is far from perfect; Fordham is over-selling itself (“we will continue to focus only on merit”), and its rivals don’t deserve the implicit bashing.
But . . . the length policy did and does send the message to authors that length alone is a paramount consideration in the submission/acceptance process. I wondered at the time whether the policy created an opening for competition among journals: If you’ve got what you think is a solid piece whose subject matter justifies its length, then are there journals which not only will not discourage you from submitting it, but will welcome it? The answer turns out to be yes. Fordham’s message is delivered awkwardly, but in this case I think that the competition is a good thing.