Law School Discussion

Law Review?

Law Review?
« on: May 24, 2004, 09:52:12 PM »
What is this this "Law Review"  I keep hearing so much about? 

Am I just hopelessly out of the loop?


BaseballJones don't take one of my scholarship positions or I'll kick you in the face!

Re: Law Review?
« Reply #1 on: May 24, 2004, 10:42:05 PM »
Law review is a legal journal that is published and ran solely by law students.  It's very competitive to get on law review, because as you can tell from my prior post only top students are invited on.  If you aren't in the top ten percent, then you have to compete in a write-on competition and hope your writing skills are good enough to carry the day.  I can tell you more about that if you want.

Anyway, the law review at USD publishes 4 issues a year of articles written by professors and students (very competitive to have your student work published).  Check out USD's law review website under the publications section of the USD law website.  Law review 2L members do all the citechecking of the articles, meaning they gather the sources, verify there is support for all the propositions, etc.  2L members are also required to write a student comment (at least 30 pages), which is a work of legal scholarship requiring lots of research.  If the law review board finds a 2L's comment to be exceptional, it will publish it in the law review.  Then in the spring of your second year, law review members may apply for law review board positions.  These are actual editor positions - meaning you do substantive and technical edits on the articles.  Very cool.  I was both a law review member and board member -- loved it.  Plus, you get course credit for doing law review (pass/fail so it cushions your GPA) and if you're on the board, you get a stipend (not a bad deal, but a lot of work).

Law review is very important for a couple reasons.  First, during recruiting season, top law firms (what people call Big Law) almost without exception require law review membership before they'll even interview you.  That's because, it's indicative of your class standing (for the most part). Second, law review is great from a practical stand point because it hones your writing and research skills, which will come in great handy when you work as a summer associate at a law firm after your second year and, of course, when you get into practice.  In short, law review is a high honor.

We also have an international law journal at USD -- it's much less competitive to get on to that, but it's also much less prestigous.  However, if you don't get onto law review, definitely do the international law journal because a journal is better than no journal.

Hope that helps.

Re: Law Review?
« Reply #2 on: May 25, 2004, 12:18:28 AM »
Wow, thanks for a great response.  I really appreciate your thoughtful advice. 

So, can one basically assume if they finish in the top 10% after the first year that there will be a spot on law review for them?

Re: Law Review?
« Reply #3 on: May 25, 2004, 01:09:08 AM »
Yep.  If you're top 5% after first semester, it's a guaranteed spot.  If you're top 10% after second semester, it's a guaranteed spot.  In fact, if you get onto law review based on first semester grades (meaning you're top 5%) and then have (God forbid) a horrible second semester that causes you to drop out of the top 10%, you still retain your law review spot.  How's that for incentive to kick some serious butt first semester?  I know a couple people who found themselves in that spot and were thanking their lucky stars they had a great first semester!   :)

With the write-on competition, there are no guarantees.  The law review board has discretion to decide how many people to invite on based on their submissions.  I think last year we had about 80-90 people submit memos for the competition and about 12-14 people were selected.  As you can see, margin is tough and it's subjective grading.  If the board doesn't think the submissions are that great, they could take say 8 instead, and vice versa if they think there are a lot of great submissions they could take say 16.  Usually, there's a natural cutoff in the quality of the submissions so it's pretty clear where to the draw the line.

Re: Law Review?
« Reply #4 on: May 25, 2004, 01:55:55 PM »
I really want to make Law Review, but I don't want to have to do so much work that my grades slip.  I don't want to come off as lazy, but can you be on Law Review and not do much?

Re: Law Review?
« Reply #5 on: May 25, 2004, 07:56:27 PM »
Oh, you're a funny one Baseballjones!  Law review is a lot of work; but that does not mean that your grades will slip.  It's all about planning out your schedule to account for the extra time you'll be spending on law review work.  During my 2 years on law review, my grades actually went UP -- yes, you read that right, UP.  That's despite the truly ridiculous amount of time I devoted to law review, especially as a board member.

Here's what I recommend:  If you make law review, make sure to take your lightest class load during the semester that you'll be doing the majority of the work on your comment.  Also there are several pass/fail classes that you can take to help cushion your GPA.  Some people's grades do slip from being on law review, but all of my friends that planned for it did not find themselves in that boat.  In fact, many that experienced a slip were in the write-on group, so they weren't in the top 10% anyway, so they really needed law review for their resume.  All that to say, yes you have to work, but if you're smart about it you can protect your grades.