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Writers' Guidelines

Bench & Bar is an official publication of the Minnesota State Bar Association (MSBA). It is published 11 times a year. Bench & Bar is distributed to 16,000 subscribers, most of whom are members of the Association resident within Minnesota. Its content is designed to appeal to the Association's diverse membership, with some emphasis on practical aids to lawyers in private practice.

Types of Articles Sought
Bench & Bar seeks to publish original articles that advance the education, competence, ethical practice, and public responsibility of Minnesota lawyers and that promote a sense of community among members of the legal profession. Its focus is on current developments and trends in the law and on ideas that are of professional interest to lawyers. Articles should emphasize practical issues of broad, current interest rather than theoretical or esoteric material.

Authors wishing to query interest in a subject before preparing a manuscript should submit a 150-word abstract or outline of the proposed article for review and comment by Bench & Bar. A final decision to publish will not be made until after the completed manuscript is received.

As you write, keep your audience in mind. The typical reader of Bench & Bar is a lawyer whose age is 38, who is in private practice in a law firm of 5 to 10 lawyers in Minnesota. Most readers are general practitioners; many others are in nontraditional settings.

Writing Style
Bench & Bar is a magazine that examines ideas and issues involving lawyers and developments in the law. Its focus is to analyze and interpret, rather than simply to report or to suggest what should be. Please avoid the style of law reviews, CLE materials, or legal briefs. An informal, journalistic style is preferred.

It is suggested that articles open with an interesting, "catchy" lead, followed by a "thesis paragraph" that tersely states the gist of the article. The exposition of the topic should then follow with a summary as the conclusion. Don't overwrite. If it only takes 8 pages to cover your subject, don't write a 12-page article.

Articles should be no longer than 3,500 words (about 19,000 characters or 12 typewritten pages, double-spaced in 12 point type), unless a shorter length is specified. If an article exceeds the specified length, it will be shortened to conform to available space.


Develop a working title for your article to keep it focused. The working title may be accepted as is or altered by the editors as they deem appropriate.

All articles are subject to editing by Bench & Bar. Articles will be edited to conform to the magazine's editorial style, which generally follows the Associated Press Stylebook. The editors will insert subheads, captions, and readouts as needed.

In submitting an article to Bench & Bar, authors thereby grant to the Minnesota State Bar Association (MSBA) the exclusive right of first publication of the article worldwide as part of Bench & Bar and the nonexclusive worldwide right to publish the article and to license or syndicate use of the article in any medium or form of electronic communication now existing or hereafter developed, to others. This paragraph shall apply unless other arrangements are made in writing.

Notes and Citations
Citations to cases and other references should be in the form prescribed by A Uniform System of Citations. Endnotes should be few in number and limited to citing specific authorities; "string" citations and discursive notes are discouraged. The author is responsible for ensuring the completeness and accuracy of all references and citations.

Photo and Biodata
At the end of the article include a 2-3 sentence biographical statement setting forth your name, your occupation and city, and other affiliations or perspectives that may merit disclosure regarding your authorship of this article. This statement may be shortened. Submit with your manuscript a recent black and white portrait photograph of yourself suitable for publication with your article.

Manuscripts should be typewritten in a standard (not all italic or all capitals) typewritten face on letter-sized (8 1/2 x 11) paper. Allow two spaces between sentences (double-space) and one-inch margins. A copy produced on a letter-quality printer or a good photocopy of such an original is acceptable. A cover letter should accompany the manuscript, indicating your name, address, and telephone number. Include a self-addressed stamped envelope if you want your manuscript returned. Manuscripts submitted in this form will be reviewed by the editor. Outside readers may be asked to review and comment on unattributed copies of an article before acceptance. Manuscripts that have previously been published or that are simultaneously under review by other publications will generally not be considered for publication.

Manuscripts generally should be submitted at least two months in advance of the desired publication date. Decisions as to the placement of an article and when to publish will be made by the editor.

Bench & Bar will obtain appropriate artwork or photographs, if any, to illustrate articles accepted for publication.