Law School Discussion

What is the effect of "writing on" to law review if one's grades are average?

My school's law review ("LR") accepts the top 15% of 1L and up to 2 "write-on" students who didn't make the cut but nailed a writing/editing task distributed to interested 1Ls after finals.

I recently skimmed the packet listing the firms participating in on-campus recruiting, and saw their standards (e.g. top 20%, law review).

What position would a student who is in the top 50% but "wrote on" to LR be in?

I imagine that it could have one of several effects, but I don't know which is most likely: (1) no effect at all, (2) a recruiter would look twice at your name when deciding who to interview (as opposed to skipping over you entirely, or (3) a recruiter would see that you clearly "wrote on" to law review, and must therefore be a fantastic writer with excellent attention to detail, a student who would likely be an asset to any firm.

Any thoughts?

I'm not sure about the exact effect but the most important skill employers are looking for is a law student who can research and wrtie well.  If you do write-on it will be a tremendous boost and while it still might be a stretch to get a big firm job you will have a much wider door open when compared to others around your rank. 

Law Review is quite a distinction in terms of writitng abilities and if you have the opportunity to give it a shot, do your best and it could REALLY help.  Good luck!

It seems to be a modern trend for Law Reviews to use the combo approach of grades & write on.  I was reading an article somewhere addressing this topic, and it was saying that over the decades, law schools started noticing that high grades alone did not necessarily mean that the student possessed a mastery of legal research and writing, thus the writing competition component.  Employers know this.  They want and need legal research & writing robots to drive the billables up. Grades are a good accomplishment, but don't speak towards the meat & potatoes that employers need - AKA: your ability to do legal research and writing.

Harvard law school, which literally invented Law Review, used to just require high grades to make it on, but now they've changed their policy to include high grades AND a mandatory write-on competition for everybody in order to make it onto their law review.


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Unless the interviewer went to your school and was on Law Review and just graduated a couple years earlier, the interviewer will not know whether you wrote or graded on to Law Review.  Each school uses different standards for acceptance onto the Journal, so an employer cannot generalize.  From the outside looking in, they just see Law Review.  On the other hand, if you are only in the top 70% of your class but are still on Law Review, the employer will realize that you wrote on if s/he thinks hard about it.  But, it is extremely rare for someone that writes well enough to get one of those coveted pure write-on spots to also be in the bottom half of the class.  More often, the person who writes on is also in the top 10% or something. 

Bottom line - Law Review is huge to have on your resume, though it will not make up completely for awful grades.


I'm in this exact position.

My grades are slighly below average due to a horrible first semester contracts exam.
I participated in the write-on competition, however, and was offered law review membership.

I have no idea whether or not employers will now be inclined to overlook my GPA, but fall
recruiting is coming up soon and I'll report back with my findings.