STATEMENT ON ARTICLE LENGTH
In 2004, we adopted what has been called the "Virginia Experiment," a policy of reducing the length of the articles published in the Virginia Law Review. That policy states: "We strongly prefer Articles under 25,000 words (including footnotes). We will publish manuscripts over 25,000 words only under exceptional circumstances." We are pleased that many of our peer institutions have indicated a desire to pursue a similar goal, and we endorse their efforts to that end.
The following statement reflects the commitment of 12 leading law journals across the country to play an active role in moderating the length of law review articles. Specifically, law reviews at Columbia, Cornell, Duke, Georgetown, Harvard, Michigan, Stanford, Texas, Pennsylvania, UC-Berkeley, Virginia, and Yale have endorsed the statement below.
In mid-December, the Harvard Law Review conducted a nationwide survey of law faculty regarding the state of legal scholarship. Nearly 800 professors completed the survey and submitted their feedback. Complete tabulations of the survey will soon be available on the web. Importantly, the survey documented one particularly unambiguous view shared by faculty and law review editors alike: the length of articles has become excessive. In fact, nearly 90% of faculty agreed that articles are too long. In addition, dozens of respondents submitted specific comments, identifying the dangers of this trend and calling for action. Survey respondents suggested that shorter articles would enhance the quality of legal scholarship, shorten and improve the editing process, and render articles more effective and easier to read.
The law reviews listed above are very grateful for the constructive feedback and wish to acknowledge a role in contributing to this unfortunate trend in legal scholarship. To the extent that the article selection or editing process encourages the submission and publication of lengthier articles, each of the law reviews listed above is committed to rethinking and modifying its policies as necessary. Indeed, some have already done so. The vast majority of law review articles can effectively convey their arguments within the range of 40-70 law review pages, and any impression that law reviews only publish or strongly prefer lengthier articles should be dispelled.