Ahh, law review. What is there to say about our dear friend law review. There is such a love hate relationship with becoming a member of your school’s law review. But you wouldn’t know it unless you were in the trenches. So how can you know if it’s right for you, before you are even chosen?
First things first, depending on your law school there are multiple ways to become a member of law review. Some schools allot a specific number of slots to the top percent of students. The remaining slots are allotted based on a student’s Write On Submission. Well what in the world? A write on submission is a try-out so that the law review board can see what your academic writing skills are. But don’t get too overwhelmed, you are given some parameters so you won’t have to go write a dissertation on the Proximate Cause Debate – we all know Justice Andrews was wrong.
What is a “write on”?
Your law review board will send out a packet which will state the issue you will write about, and, most times, provide you with case law, newspaper articles, scholarly articles and the like to weed through and come up with your take on the issue presented. It would actually be exciting if it wasn’t a competition (in my opinion).
The hardest thing about this packet is your own stamina. In my case, my school gave us the packet on the weekend of July 4th. A true test of commitment they like to say. And, I was perhaps one of the luckier students. Some schools provide the packet right after finals when your brain is exhausted and your attention to detail is nonexistent. Both things you need to overcome the tedious materials to be combed through. But there are always tips and tricks available to help walk you through the different processes.
Should I Write On?
So now that I may have dissuaded you, let me tell you why a sleepless night is worth it. The skills you gain through law review last for life. The reality is that in your career you will likely provide articles for websites, or journals or another secondary avenue providing your colleagues insights on law topics they don’t have time to dive into themselves much more than you will argue in front of the United States Supreme Court (I’m looking at you moot court).
Getting onto law review may be the propeller you need to get through the rest of law school. Now, I’m not saying that you will have a red carpet to any firm if you make it. I’m not saying if you don’t make it that you won’t walk a red carpet. But, membership on a school law review will give you a prestige that no other extracurricular carries – even if that mindset is a bit outdated. It can give you a great leg up in the job market.
I’d say that the biggest question to keep in mind when deciding to write on to law review is what kind of career you want after law school. If you don’t know yet, then what better time to consider it than now.
A huge question to ask before you spend multiple hours, and get a crick in your neck leaning over a bluebook, should be where do you want to see yourself employed after you graduate. If it is a big firm, then get your heating pad out because you should definitely try for law review. Big firms notice law review because clients specifically like to see that the lawyers at the bigger firms stand out and tradition holds law review is what does that. Even though times have changed though, the BigLaw mentality is slow to catch up. So, law review is a big bonus. Judges selecting law clerks also put an emphasis on law review. They prefer applicants who have had experience on law review because it shows a wide variety of writing skills. And when you’re a clerk, you are writing day in and day out.
However, if you are more interested in working for a non-profit, or becoming a prosecutor or public defender, or even work in a mom and pop shop, law review will be less important. If those types of jobs appeal to you, then there are plenty of other curricular’s you can get involved in that would impress those types of employers.
Ask an Upperclassman
One of the most useful tools you can use to determine if law review is right for you is to ask 2Ls and 3Ls in your school how they decided. Specifically, it is helpful to look at those who are following paths you are interested in. Often times, the law review puts on multiple events throughout the year to show you what types of activities they have, and, as we all know, a 2L or 3L or any lawyer for that matter loves to tell you about themselves. If you want a more extensive look at what law review is to start your decision, there are plenty of tips here.
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