Law School Discussion

Is law review really worth it?

Re: Is law review really worth it?
« Reply #50 on: January 25, 2011, 03:23:56 PM »
That makes sense. Honestly, I do not fully understand how law review works. I know I missed being automatically put on by 1%  :'(, but that is how it goes. I know it is good, but in reality I don't actually know what it does. Do you essentially choose a topic on anything you want and write on it? That is what I understand it to be and that would probably be good training. I just was not actually sure what it entailed. Probably a stupid question, but I truthfully don't know.

Bigs -

Sorry to read that. 

Law is unique in that it is the only field in which professional papers are edited by students.  This approach provides a ready source of eager minions, as well as cheap labor.

There are three (not just two) ways to get on.  [Some schools do combine elements of the first two.]  First is the "grade on," second is the "write on," and third is an open secret: write a publishable paper that is accepted.  (Some editors don't even know about this third option.  Check at your school.)

What is actually done?  The student note is supposedly the culmination, but in fact, for most, is a sidebar.

New law reviewers are given sections (usually) of draft articles.  Their task is to cite check.  That is, they spend hours confirming that every citation in the draft is correct.  Sometimes or, depending upon the author, there are a lot of "F/As," or "Find Authority."  In essence, you're to do the professor's job of finding authority for what it is they're asserting.  This is both interesting and frustrating, as you might imagine.  It's also heady stuff.  One of the articles I was responsible for was by Posner; he was, as with most true greats, better about editing than the lesser faculty demigods.

This is, in short, a job as a copy editor . . . but an OCD copy-editor.  You're not just checking cites, you're checking EVERY CHARACTER of every word of every sentence of every cite.  Fun?  (Hint:  This is what you'll do on the job too, unless your uncle is name partner.)

In second year, you either continue as a cite-checker, at a modest time investment, or you are elected/appointed/beauty-contested to an editorial position.  If so, you'll essentially be reviewing articles for inclusion, then for all those F/As.  Depending upon the school, editors can get some credit for this work, reducing their class load.

In sum, it's a few hundred hours additional work, putting most back up to something like a first year.  (Not quite, but closer than other 2-3Ls.)  Most do not then have part-time employment, or if they do it's modest--but in the summers they make up for it, big time.

About that sidebar, for most it's a big research paper.  Most will take a course and, essentially, get double credit for a bigger and cite-filled (but not always insightful) paper.  For those in the Top 5 interested in teaching, this IS a major start.  Choose your topic carefully.

Does this help?



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Re: Is law review really worth it?
« Reply #51 on: January 25, 2011, 03:53:04 PM »
Yes that does and is far more descriptive than Wikipeida or my school's law review website, which gave me the in-depth analysis below ::). Thanks for the post! I was honestly curious to know the details of what it consisted of and your post provided that.

Begun in 1969 as a non-traditional legal publication presenting the results of legally-focused public interest projects, today the Golden Gate University Law Review is a general interest legal journal. The Golden Gate University Law Review publishes scholarly writing on a broad range of legal topics, including constitutional law, criminal procedure, immigration law, contract law, and administrative law. Each edition of the Golden Gate University Law Review contains five to ten Casenotes, Comments, Articles, and Case Summaries covering cutting-edge legal topics written by judges, students, professors, and legal practitioners from across California and around the world.

Re: Is law review really worth it?
« Reply #52 on: January 25, 2011, 04:38:54 PM »
Law review is worth it for the "prestige" factor.  However, as for experience and "real world" value, it's (more often than not) just an exercise in intellectual masturbation which confers no extra benefit on either the author or the legal community. 

Law reviews used to be written by top legal scholars who addressed important legal issues.  Now, anyone with enough money/time can push an article out, call it a "scholarly" piece, and submit / have it published in one of the (literally - see hundreds of legal journals currently in publication.  Even the quality of "Law reviews" (not secondary journals) has slipped across the board.

In summation...
Would I do law review?  YES, for the prestige and resulting hiring bump.
Does it provide specialized training that you couldn't get from reading a bluebook, drafting briefs, and cite checking another's work?  No.
Do the articles add value to the legal world?  Most articles do not.  There are exceptions, however.  One example instantly comes to mind: Prosser's "Privacy" (48 California Law Review 383).  Very few modern journals are actually worth the paper they're printed on.