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February 17, 2022 Articles

A Roadmap to Making Law Review

Three components of the law review admissions that can help demystify the process.

By Brian M. King
Being a part of a law review or journal is an invaluable experience for the career of a lawyer, legislator, and judicial law clerk.

Being a part of a law review or journal is an invaluable experience for the career of a lawyer, legislator, and judicial law clerk.

Credit: pixelfit

Finals, on-campus interviews (OCIs), and law review are some of the events that bring law students the most anxiety. Success on finals, at OCI, and law review can open many doors, including judicial clerkships, government honors attorney programs, and summer associate positions. This article provides guidance for law students who aspire to join law review, highlights what to expect on law review, and discusses the influence that the American Bar Association Judicial Internship Opportunity Program (ABA JIOP) has on the law review process.

Toward the end of 1L year, many law students endure the process of applying for law review. Law review and law journal admission requirements and procedures vary depending on the law school. (Other law review board members and I jokingly defined the law review admissions process as “walking over hot coals, blindfolded, while carrying our 1L year textbooks.”)

The secrecy embedded in the culture of each law review stirs mixed feelings in applicants and members of the law review. Applicants often characterize this process as something like joining a legal fraternity or sorority and seek to unmask the mystery behind the law review process. Applicants work tirelessly toward receiving the coveted law review acceptance letter but also anxiously await the news of their acceptance.

In contrast, law review members attempt to protect the name and prestige accompanying their law review through the application process. Members stress to applicants the importance of continuing the legacy of their law review, while maintaining mystery of the competitive application process.

Guidelines for Law Review Applicants

A law review or law journal consists of rising 2Ls and 3Ls alike. Being a part of a law review or journal is an invaluable experience for the career of a lawyer, legislator/legislative bill drafter, and judicial law clerk. Below are three components of the law review admissions process that can help demystify the application process.

1. Seek advice and insight from current and/or former law review members.

Current and former law review members have insight that surpasses that of any applicant who may be going through the law review process. For example, members experience the same application process and can provide firsthand experiences to applicants seeking a law review invitation. Both current and former members can also introduce applicants to other members before the commencement of the formal application process and can coordinate informational interviews/sessions on expectations of a law review member.

2. Identify classmates and friends seeking law review admission.

Classmates and friends from your law school and other law schools are great resources for applicants. They can serve as a support group, which is particularly important to maintain during the law review application process. The law review application process is a bit more manageable when you have companions who are also applying for law review. Plus, going through the application process together often helps the cohort of applicants come together as a team and family.

3. Research the application requirements and procedures of your school’s law review.

Knowing the law review’s application requirements and procedures beforehand will save a great deal of stress during the process. Applicants vying for a spot on the law review are easily disqualified when they fail to follow instructions. Knowing the requirements and procedures can help prospective members avoid common pitfalls. As mentioned before, law reviews have varying standards. For example, some law reviews require its candidates to edit an article from a previous publication, and other law reviews require applicants to write a note on a pre-selected topic and/or sit for a Bluebook exam. Although it will be difficult, try not to burn your Bluebook after final exams. If you are unsure of what exactly qualifies as a “note” or “comment,” do your research before writing anything and always follow the instructions given by your law review. Familiarize yourself with the law review application procedures at your school to know what to expect.

If you are at the top of your class after final exams, then one thing to also consider is that many law reviews automatically accept applicants with excellent grade-point-averages or ranks.

What to Expect on Law Review

Newly admitted law review applicants can expect to check citations, edit articles, and perform other various administrative tasks. The Bluebook becomes a primary tool in a law review member’s toolbox to perform cite checks adhering to Bluebook standards. See McClurg, Andrew J., 1L of a Ride (2017).

Members can also expect to solicit article submissions from the legal community and discuss these articles for publication. Specifically, law review members consider articles based on their substance, writing style, tone, grammar, and—most importantly—Bluebook conformity. Other tasks and responsibilities include planning events such as writing and editing workshops, symposiums, guest speakers, fundraising, and law review competitions.

Law review membership is typically divided into staff members and editors. Typically, the first-year members are considered “staff,” while some or even all second-year members serve as “editors.” Students are expected to write a note or comment of publishable quality, although the article may not be published. Henricksen, Wes, Making Law Review. (2008).

Becoming a member of a law review is a rewarding experience that is a result of hard, consistent work. The power of law review does not rest in its membership status alone, but in the skills that you acquire during the membership. Law review members develop exceptional research, writing, and editing skills, which employers see as great assets of recent graduates. McClurg, 1L of a Ride (2017).

JIOP Influence

For ABA JIOP interns, judges and court staff provide much-needed, constructive feedback on the interns’ work product. The feedback sharpens the interns’ legal writing, research, and analytical skills. For example, becoming a JIOP intern before joining a law review can greatly enhance your writing and citation skills for your note or comment. In my case, I was selected for an internship before making law review. Another benefit of becoming a JIOP intern before joining a law review is exposure to the courts and numerous legal issues that can influence topics that you can write about or research for law review. The experience in ABA JIOP also exposes law students to the law review admissions process at other schools since many JIOP interns apply for law review at their respective schools. The connections that you form with other law students through JIOP creates networking opportunities and opens the door for future collaboration on articles, symposiums, and more. After the commencement of the ABA JIOP, law students return to their respective law reviews with enhanced legal research and writing skills that they can use throughout law school and their legal career.

Brian M. King is an attorney with the Texas Attorney General’s Office - Consumer Protection Division in Dallas, Texas. He was a JIOP intern in 2016.


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