Law Review is a student-run journal that publishes articles written by legal professionals (law professors, judges, even law students). While it’s a great way to get experience and can help you stand out from your classmates, it’s also time consuming and might not be worth your efforts depending on your circumstances. Whether you’re thinking about applying or were already selected based on your GPA, here are some things to keep in mind when making your decision:
What Your Tasks Will Entail:
- When you first join, you will likely be asked to cite check footnotes. (Takes. Hours – especially when you first join.) For example, I think my first cite check, which was only 10 sources, took me twelve hours. This is because you are not only editing footnotes using Bluebook, but you are also verifying that the sources are accurately matching up with the author’s statements. In addition, during your first year, you are usually required to write a comment, which is typically a 25-35 page paper.
Benefits of Joining Law Review:
- Being a member of law review shows you have strong writing skills, a strong work ethic and a talent for being detailed – all skills an employer will recognize. Most law reviews also come with perks for school, like having access to an outline bank or maybe even being able to use a certain refrigerator at school.
Just to be selected to be on law review is an achievement in itself that will stick with you for the remainder of your law career. It is a great talking point in interviews and could be the reason why you’re selected for a job. It will also help you in terms of Bluebooking and you will have a new network and develop new friendships that you would not have otherwise had. Additionally, if you stick with the journal for more than a year, you could get academic credit for your work. Further, if your writing is among the best, you could also end up getting published.
Negatives of Joining Law Review:
- To be frank, being a part of the law review is the equivalent of adding an extra class and a half to your schedule. To begin, your acceptance is usually contingent on being committed for two years. This intense time commitment many underestimate and for some, it could negatively affect their grades. Personally, I had deadlines around finals time and was stuck choosing between studying a little more for that bar course or editing my comment again. Additionally, if you are looking to use your comment as a writing sample, some employers won’t accept or like them because they know how heavily edited they might be.
Consider Your Career Goals:
- Joining a law review should really come down to what you are hoping to do after you graduate. For example, big firms will likely notice law review and take it into account a lot more than if you are looking to work in public interest. Judges selecting law clerks will also likely prefer applicants who have had experience on law review. Similarly, if you’re hoping to break into academia, being on a law review shows you have the skills required for the role.
Reflect On Your Interests:
- Here, is where I went wrong. My school did not have a lot of options when it came to journals and I decided to join the Journal of International Law as purely something to put on my resume. In hindsight, I had no interest in international law, a fact that became very apparent for me when I was tasked with writing a comment on any topic that intersected with international law, and I could not bring myself to find anything that interested me. Consequently, I ended up dropping it and now I get to awkwardly run into my comment editor every Tuesday and Thursday in class. Moral of the story is – law review/journals are a great way to get involved in certain topics that interest you – not what you think will interest your future employer. If you have no interest in Law Review and want to do it solely for the resume builder – you’re likely wasting your time and taking the spot from a student who truly wants to be a part of it.
Ultimately, joining law review can be a great way to get involved with an extracurricular during law school while sharpening a skillset you need to be a successful attorney. However, keep in mind, if you don’t think it’s for you, it’s probably not and not being on law review won’t completely ruin your chances of that big law firm job or clerkship. The key to extracurriculars in law school is doing something you enjoy and something that matches your skill-set.
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