Extracurricular: Law Journal/Review


Now that the school year is coming to a close, it is a good time to post about extracurriculars law students can get involved with, especially during their 2L and 3L years. So for the next few weeks, I will be posting about common extracurricular activities such as journal/law review, moot courts, clinics, and leadership opportunities.

Starting off: Journal or Law Review
(Full disclaimer: I chose not to be on a journal, but I have many friends who are on journal)

What is it? Every law school publishes at least one scholarly journal that focuses on legal issues. Most schools will produce more than one- typically one that is generally about legal issues, and others that are more focused on a specific area of law, such as social equality, health law, or sports law. Legal scholars, particularly professors, will submit articles for publication. The journal will then decide which articles to publish from their submissions. 

Who does it? Typically, journal is a two year commitment. You begin as a 2L, when you may be referred to as an associate and continue on the journal into your 3L year, usually with some leadership position. 

What do you do? Your first year will be mostly spent checking citations in submitted articles. You may also submit a vote as to whether a certain article should be published. You will likely have to submit a Note, a student written article, that may or may not be published. Typically, your Note can be on any topic of your choosing, as long as it fits within your journal's general theme. Law reviews and journals can provide excellent leadership opportunities in your 3L year as you can be on the Board of Editors or serve as an editor. 

How do you get on journal? Almost every school has its own application process. Some want to see a resume, first year grades, and/or a personal statement. Others will focus on your writing skills and want you to submit a Note proposal or a writing sample. Others will ask you to edit a number of difficult citations. Some may also require an interview. Some will allow you to be selected for a journal based on grades alone. More than likely, your school will ask for a combination of the above. Most law journal or review application processes occur in the few weeks following the end of the 1L year (aka now). 

Why do journal? There are many reasons you should do journal, and everyone's reason for doing (or not doing) journal may vary. Many employers like to see applicants participate in either a journal and/or moot court. If you don't do one of these two (or both), you may be at a disadvantage when applying for jobs. Many judges, especially federal, require their clerks to participate in journal or law review. Journal is also a good way to hone your writing and citation skills. The theme of a certain journal may be of great interest to you. However, journal takes up an enormous amount of time, especially during your 2L year, which is why some students choose to not participate in a journal or law review.

One thing I've heard is that journal is for students who want to do transactional work, and moot court is for those who want to litigate. I disagree with this statement, as both journal and moot court require hours of in-depth legal research which is what attorneys spend a lot of time doing, albeit law review/ journal and moot court focus on different types of research. Moot court allows participants to engage in oral arguments, which can be great practice for those who want to litigate. Journal or law review does not tend to give this opportunity. While moot court provides the chance to participate in oral arguments, it doesn't necessarily mean that moot court is just for those who want to litigate and journal is for students who want to do transactional work. No matter what you want to do with your law degree, both journal/law review and moot court can help prepare you for your future work.

Next week, I will post about getting involved with moot courts- both internal and external. If you have any specific questions about my experience with it, drop a comment below and I will try to answer it next week!

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