Get Published! Q&A with a Texas A&M Law ProfessorWilliam Byrnes, Esq. LL.M. | 2016-04-06
Howdy! I am a law professor of Texas A&M University, one of the largest U.S. public universities. Texas A&M students, former students, faculty and staff are commonly called “Aggies”, our university “Aggieland”, and the law school “AggieLaw”.
My field is taxation, which is like saying my field is “law” or “business”. Taxation is a very broad field, with many intra-silo specialties. The specialty areas may be, nonexclusively, based on industry (e.g., oil & gas, pharmaceutical), on country/region (e.g., U.S., EU, South East Asia), on type of taxation (e.g., municipal, international, VAT, federal, estate), and topic areas (e.g., transfer pricing, M&A, corporate). My field specialty, at least what my graduate education and fellowship dissertation reflect, is “transfer pricing”. During my practice, I expanded into an international tax comparatist. As an international tax expert, with agility I research and analyze the tax laws of countries then categorize the laws with added value annotation for meaningful reference for tax advisors.
I author and co-author eight law treatises and compendiums by LexisNexis which is one of the Big-3 law publishers (LexisNexis, Wolters Kluwer, Thomson), a two part ten-volume compendium by Wolters Kluwer, another Big-3, and three books and a treatise with a specialty publisher, National Underwriter/American Legal Media, that is dominant in its topic area. Moreover, I co-author a syndicated financial/tax planning weekly column, and a monthly tax newsletter for subscribers. The books sells between 20,000 and 25,000 copies annually, and the law treaties attract many thousand subscription users from around the world. Thus, it is fair to say that I am one of the best-selling legal authors in the tax professional market. By example, see my LinkedIn profile.
1) Where do you and your colleagues publish your work?
At Texas A&M University, my colleagues focus primarily on submitting publications to U.S. journals, though English language non-U.S. journals of high regard repute are also acceptable publication fora.
2) Should international authors publish in English-language journals?
Absolutely, it is necessary for non-English language speakers to publish in English, even if by translation, in English language journals. Such English language publication is critical for recognition of research, and for publications therefrom to be “discovered” by other countries’ academics and obtain citation. In an academic world dominated by ranking, citation and downloads are essential to tenure, status, compensation, and influence.
Given my background, I include chapters in English language books as well. For most disciplines, authorship of chapters in books as well as books/treatises is highly regarded for purposes of tenure and promotion, as long as it is in conjunction with having authored articles for academic publications as well.
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3) Would international scholars benefit from language editing services?
Absolutely! As a very time conscious gatekeeper, submissions with grammatical and style errors raise red flags about inexperience, lack of focus, lack of quality and it is highly doubtful the submission will continue to a full review. At least, in twenty years, a submission with errors has not made it past any review team that I have participated on.
4) What English language journals are most important in your field?
For U.S. legal academics, although it has little respect in other disciplines, it is critical to be published in student reviewed and student run law reviews, in particular from law schools ranked in the first tier by U.S. News. Colleagues will cite exceptions to this rule, as well as state that this system is highly flawed. The nature of the flaws include:
- these student law reviews are not peer reviewed;
- article selection is based upon how highly the submitting faculty’s members law school is ranked instead of originality, quality and relevance of an article;
- and the law reviews have very little regard, thus impact, for the general legal professional community.
Regardless of these flaws, very few U.S. non-tenured law academics who eventually achieve tenure at ranked law schools do so without having several law review articles in publications of other ranked law schools.
5) How do you write letters to editors to make your work stand out?
For the U.S. law review community, to capture the potential interest of a student reviewer who quickly scans dozens and even a hundred submissions in a couple weeks, the letter likely to be noticed will be on the letterhead of a highly esteemed university, contain an extremely catchy article title in its reference line, and a short abstract that the reviewing student can immediately contextually grasp so that it does not go into the “review later” box or “not worth the effort” box. Articles chosen by exception to the above usually are submitted by non-academics such as government policy makers or big firm partners. Sometimes lesser known authors partner with experienced well known authors in order to attract the requisite attention (and letterhead) for the submission process.
6) Who reviews your work?
I extensively use multiple reviewers. I author in highly complex, and litigious areas of tax and financial law. The treatises are relied upon by multinational counsel to inform their decision making process. The content must be contextually relevant to the counsel, and qualitatively add analytical value to their own thoughts and research, lest the treatises suffer the demise of discontinuation. I ask reviewers to provide criticism, to challenge, and to validate many aspects of an article, chapter or entire treatise, such as relevancy, structure, coherency, and value.
7) If you have reviewed manuscripts or books from international authors in your field, what do you think are their major challenges?
- Dry, or poor writing, that could be fixed with a professional stylistic editor
- Lack of relevancy for market
- Lack of practical understanding of the industry for which the book is focused upon
- Lack of name recognition within an industry
Too many authors think “if I write it, persons will buy it”, without establishing who the “persons” are, how these persons will be informed, and a clear value added “must have it” proposition.
8) What associations would you recommend other scholars in your field to join?
- International Fiscal Association
- American Bar Association
- Relevant, large State Bar Associations such as Texas, New York, California and Florida
About the author:
Professor William Byrnes (Texas A&M University School of Law), author / co-author of 20 tax books and legal treatises that have sold more than 120,000 copies and thousands of online subscribers, is "one of the leading authors and best-selling authors in the professional markets" according to Richard Kravitz (Editor-in-Chief of The CPA Journal). Professor William Byrnes is a syndicated author of tax and financial planning media articles and posts, now numbering nearly 1,000, that have attracted hundreds of thousands of readers.
“In the field of international tax, Prof. William Byrnes is among LexisNexis’s best-selling authors and a leading authority in the fields of anti-money laundering and FATCA compliance.” Ray Camiscioli, Esq., Director, Product Strategy & Development for Tax, Accounting and Estates/Elder Law, LexisNexis, Inc. In 2015, the FATCA Compliance Guide reached #2 for print/digital revenue for Lexis. The FATCA Guide and several of his articles may be freely downloaded from SSRN.
After peer review, the Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board (FFSB) and the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs (ECA) selected him for the 2013-2018 Fulbright Specialist Roster for the areas of comparative law and for taxation. India’s National Board of Accreditation bestowed its 2012 Education Leadership Award on Professor William Byrnes, stating: “Professor William Byrnes’ leadership and contribution to the field of education is well known.”
Before full-time academia, William Byrnes served in a senior position with a Big 6 firm. Connect with him at LinkedIn.
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