Illinois Bar Journal Manuscript Guidesheet
Want to raise your profile in the Illinois legal community and earn MCLE credit and other benefits in the process? Consider writing for the Illinois Bar Journal, the Illinois State Bar Association's award-winning monthly magazine.
What are we looking for? With few exceptions, the Illinois Bar Journal publishes practice-oriented articles for Illinois lawyers. We are not a law review; we are "news you can use" for Illinois practitioners. If you're writing another kind of article -- arguing to courts for a change in the common law, for example, or to legislators for a statutory revision -- the IBJ is the wrong venue.
The ideal IBJ manuscript is written 1) with harried small firm/sole practitioners in mind (they make up most of our membership) 2) in a well-organized and conversational style, as if you were advising a colleague. Be sure to explain at the outset what the article is about and why our readers should care (e.g., "this is an issue you could confront, and here's what you can do about it"). Take a relentlessly how-to approach. If you write about a new case or statute, don't simply describe it. Explain what it means for practitioners and how they should respond. Important new cases, new statutes or regs, and other legal developments that matter to Illinois lawyers are all fair game.
Simultaneous submissions - Sorry, but we will not consider articles that have been simultaneously submitted to or published by another publication, including an ISBA publication. No topic may be reserved for an author. All manuscripts are considered on a first come, first served basis. Also, we reserve the right to edit all manuscripts - heavily, if necessary - for length, clarity, organization, and style.
Pending cases - We sometimes publish manuscripts that discuss cases in which a petition for rehearing or leave to appeal is pending or has been granted, but only if the treatment is balanced. We cannot publish an article about a pending case if an author is counsel for plaintiff or defendant or a member of the same firm as counsel for plaintiff or defendant in the pending case.
The Review Process
Volunteer-written manuscripts deemed suitable for review go to a panel of the Illinois Bar Journal Editorial Board. The panel decides whether to accept or reject it, based on the importance of the topic to practicing lawyers, breadth of appeal, timeliness, quality of analysis, clarity, organization, and other factors. The panel sometimes requires rewriting or editing as a prerequisite to approval. We reserve the right to reject even manuscripts we solicit if they do not meet our standards.
Length - Lead articles should be 1,500 to 3,000 words, including footnotes. Longer articles are rarely accepted. Very rarely.
Editing - articles may be heavily edited by ISBA for clarity and style.
Endnotes and citations - Any citations should be in endnote form, not in the body of the manuscript. Unreported cases should include docket number and court. Avoid lengthy footnotes, using them for citations only except in rare cases (no string cites, please). Citations should be consistent with the Style Manual for the Supreme and Appellate Courts of Illinois, http://www.state.il.us/court/StyleManual/SupCrt_StyleManual.pdf, which largely adheres to A Uniform System of Citation (the Bluebook).
Main heading - Compose a five-to-10 word main heading or title for the article; if you cannot convey the essence of your article in ten words or fewer you may need to sharpen its focus.
Summary - Include a brief summary of your manuscript with the main heading. (See a recent issue of the Illinois Bar Journal for examples - they appear at the beginning of the article.)
Charts, graphs and forms. We encourage authors to submit charts, graphs, forms (especially forms!) and the like that make your article easier to understand, underscore important points, or otherwise serve readers’ interest.
Biography - Include a one-sentence biography of yourself, including your e-mail address unless you don't want it published. Again, see recent issues for examples.
Author photos. We welcome your color photos, but make sure they’re high resolution enough for print (i.e., don’t just copy and paste them from LinkedIn or your website). For best results, email us 3" x 5" JPEGs at 300 dpi resolution.
Copyright - The Illinois State Bar Association requires all Illinois Bar Journal authors to transfer copyright ownership of their articles to the ISBA by signing our copyright transfer form.
How to Send Manuscripts and Get More Information
Send the article as an e-mail attachment to Mark Mathewson at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your complete contact information, including e-mail and office and home telephone numbers. Also contact Mark if you have questions about how the process works, whether your topic is appropriate, and the like.