Writer's Guidelines

The Federal Lawyer is the only magazine written by and edited for lawyers who practice in federal courts or have an interest in federal law as well as judges who sit on the federal bench. Published 10 times per year, The Federal Lawyer features editorial content that covers a broad range of topics that fall within federal jurisdiction. Through the magazine's extensive and up-to-date editorial coverage of these legal issues, federal practitioners are able to obtain the latest pronouncements and theories of importance to the federal legal system.

Types of Articles Sought
The Federal Lawyer seeks to publish original articles that offer diverse coverage of the federal legal profession, which encompasses attorneys in private practice who specialize in areas of federal law, career service attorneys practicing within the federal government, judges who preside in the federal circuit and district courts, and lay people and law students who may have substantial interest in the practice of federal law. Rather than law review type treatments of narrowly defined subject areas, the Editorial Board seeks articles that meet one or more of the following criteria:

  • Does the article engage the reader's interest in a concise, yet descriptive, manner?
  • Does the article provide practical information that would be applicable in the day-to-day practice of federal law?
  • Does the article address a subject of timely importance to the reader?
  • Does the subject contribute to the education, competence, ethical practice, and/or public responsibility of federal practitioners?

Please note that previously published articles and those under consideration at multiple publications are not typically accepted for publication in The Federal Lawyer.

Writing Style
A wide variety of writing styles is accepted, including how-to articles, interviews, opinion pieces, legal analyses, and first-person accounts. Please avoid using "legalese" and writing styles used in legal briefs and law review articles. A more easily readable, journalistic style is preferred. The Federal Lawyer follows the Associated Press Stylebook and Libel Manual (AP Style); articles will be copyedited to conform accordingly. The editors and production staff reserve the right to alter or rewrite headlines, insert or delete subheads as needed, and edit text to conform to space limitations.

Preferred length varies by the type of article submitted:

  • Recurring column: Columns should be at least 1,300 words and no more than 2,300 words.
  • Judicial Profile: Judicial profiles can vary in length; however the preferred length is between 1,400 and 2,500 words.
  • Feature article: Feature articles can be anywhere between 3,000 and 8,000 words. Please note the citation requirements below.
  • Letter to the Editor: Letters should not be more than 600 words.
  • Commentary/Opinion Piece: If you have an opinion to express that cannot be encompassed easily in a letter to the editor, you may submit a commentary, which can be between 1,000-1,500 words.

Notes and Citations
Citations to cases and other references should be in the form prescribed in the latest version of The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation. Citations should be formatted as endnotes, placed at the end of the article. Endnotes should be few in number and limited to citing specific authorities; "string" citations and discursive notes are discouraged. Cites to one source in the same paragraph should be given at the end of the paragraph rather than at the end of every sentence. The author is responsible for ensuring the completeness and accuracy of all references and citations.

All authors will receive a copyright release form with their proof prior to publication. Authors can choose to assign copyright to the Federal Bar Association or to retain their own copyright, ensuring that all reprint requests will be forwarded to them directly. Author-held copyrights will be duly noted when the article is published.

Graphic Guidelines
The production staff for The Federal Lawyer will obtain appropriate artwork or photographs to illustrate materials accepted for publication. Writers are encouraged to submit any relevant photos, graphs, or charts that they feel may add visual impact to the presentation of their written pieces. Please note that all graphics/photos should be submitted in electronic format at high resolution (300 dpi or greater). Graphics and photos embedded in Word documents are not acceptable.

Submission of Materials
Authors should submit the following materials via email to tfl@fedbar.org:

  • Manuscript in Microsoft Word document
  • A two- to three-sentence biographical statement 
  • A headshot photo suitable for publication (see Graphic Guidelines above) 
  • Feature articles: A two- to three-sentence introductory paragraph providing an overview of the article

Approval Process
Members of the Editorial Board review all article submissions for appropriate and timely content. Typical turnaround time is approximately two weeks; however, because of the volunteer nature of the board, delays may be encountered. While under review with The Federal Lawyer, please do not submit articles to other publications as we would like first right of refusal. All submissions will be answered with a final decision; at this time, articles that have been accepted for publication may have additional changes or edits that are required prior to publication. Unless submitted for a specific theme issue or to coincide with a special event (e.g. a judicial profile planned to coincide with a retirement ceremony), all articles are published in the order in which they are received. Wait time from acceptance to publication varies, but can be as long as six to eight months.

Please contact Managing Editor Zebley Foster at zfoster@fedbar.org or (571) 481-9102 for more information or with specific questions regarding publication.