Writing for the JLS: Reflections from a first-year tenure-track professor

Qian Liu, University of Calgary, Canada

During my first semester as an Assistant Professor of Law and Society, I assigned David Engel’s “The Oven Bird’s Song: Insiders, Outsiders, and Personal Injuries in an American Community” in my upper-year course Research Methods in Law and Society. The excitement in the room during the group discussion in October 2021 motivated me to include a chapter on “lumping it” from Engel’s The Myth of the Litigious Society: Why We Don’t Sue in my first-year level introductory course in the Winter termRe-reading Engel’s works during a time when I was conducting research on intergenerational relationships and legal consciousness in China, I felt that stories of Chinese ageing parents and their adult children had an opportunity to expand our understandings of the reasons why sometimes people considered legal mobilization favourably but at other times bitterly opposed it. My usage of Chinese experience to contribute to the theoretical analysis of legal consciousness made the article a good fit for an interdisciplinary law and society journal that attracted an international audience. 

The Journal of Law and Society stood out as my top priority for the following reasons: first, several colleagues whose works I admired had chosen the JLS, an indication that it was a great outlet; second, I remembered someone mentioned at a law and society conference that the JLS had a relatively faster turnaround times from submission to editorial decision; third, although I might also have a chance by submitting my article to interdisciplinary regional journals, I considered law and society scholars to be my primary audience for this article. 

In February 2022, I saw on the JLS website that all submissions should be sent via emails to the Editor, which was too good to be true at a time when academic authors were frequently asked to create a detailed profile in order to submit our manuscripts. Unsure about the process, I contacted a mentor who published her work with the JLS and asked about her experience. She confirmed that she enjoyed the whole process and highly recommended it. 

I remembered I was also debating if I should email the editor to check whether the JLS would be interested in my article. I was reluctant to do so, since my understanding was that editors were super busy and would probably just ignore this type of inquiry. However, I drafted and sent the email after a bottle of beer. I had a sense that with the JLS, I would get an answer. And guess what? I got a reply from Professor Philip Thomas within a few hours, encouraging me to send in my paper for consideration.

I submitted my manuscript to the JLS in mid-March 2022 and received an invitation to revise and resubmit in early May. The comments from the three reviewers were detailed and constructive, which were extremely helpful in streamlining my key argument and contributions. I waited until 28 June to submit my revised version due to some travels with my family in between, which delayed the process a bit. On 18 July 2022, when I was on my way back from the Law and Society Annual Meeting in Lisbon, I heard from the JLS that my paper had been accepted for publication. (forthcoming in the 2023 Spring issue with the Journal of Law and Society)

Looking back, the whole process was smooth and enjoyable—I felt that my manuscript had always been in good hands and that the editorial team cared a lot about nurturing the next generation of law and society scholars, for which I have been extremely grateful. 

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