Editor’s Note: Jennie Davis is the incoming Editor-in-Chief of the Boston College Law Review. Despite prior engagements such as final exams and learning how to run an entire publication, Jennie was kind enough to author a post about the academic journals at BC Law, and the writing competition that plays so prominently in membership selection. We are very pleased to present her letter about the rewards of working on a journal, and how interested students can get involved.
Being a member of Boston College Law Review has been the most challenging and rewarding experience of my career thus far. As a result, I would encourage all law students to take advantage of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to get to know your peers on a different level, learn what professors do outside of class, and push yourself to become the best writer you can be. To help you make your decision, I’d like to share with you a few of the reasons why I decided to join a journal here at BC Law and how the experience has shaped my legal education.
In the legal field, journals like Boston College Law Review serve the crucial role of providing a platform for attorneys, professors, students, and researchers to discuss and debate important issues of their time. So coming to BC Law, I knew I wanted to join a journal (if they would have me) because of my prior experience in academia. Just before law school, I completed a Master’s in forensic psychology. Although the experience ultimately steered me away from psychology and toward law, it instilled in me a deep respect for scholarly publications. For two years I worked alongside psychology and law professors and other students, conducting research, presenting studies at conferences, and publishing manuscripts in peer-reviewed journals and books. This intellectual exercise taught me the value of academic discourse, and I knew I wanted to contribute to the conversation.
Furthermore, I admit that I was drawn in by the prestige of the time-honored Law Review tradition. Boston College Law Review was established in 1959 and is currently ranked 23rd in the country by Washington & Lee’s Law Review Rankings. We put out five issues per year (as well as an online supplement) consisting of a mix of Articles by outside professors and pieces written by student staffers. Our publication examines a diverse array of topics of national importance. In addition, employers value the rigorous research and writing training that students receive on Law Review. Thus, I was excited about the prospect of joining such an influential and progressive journal!
However, nothing worth having comes easy, and the Law Review experience is no different. One of biggest challenges for me was the writing competition, the process through which students are selected for membership on one of the five journals at BC Law. The competition starts immediately after you take your last final exam of 1L year, at which point everyone is exhausted. Nonetheless, we picked up the materials and powered through. (Before you dive in, I would highly recommend taking a few days to blow off some steam!)
The competition is the first time that you write a legal memo without any guidance from professors, supervisors, or peers, which can be intimidating. It also forces you to get to know your Bluebook and all of its seemingly random citation rules that you spent all of 1L year avoiding. Yet when you pass in your competition materials less than two weeks later, you are a much stronger and more confident writer. Plus, the competition equips you with all of the tools that you need to be successful on a journal and in the office!
But once I made it onto the Law Review, I began to experience the benefits immediately. I am surrounded by 2Ls and 3Ls who are brilliant, motivated, and generous with their time and advice (and outlines). Additionally, being on a journal provides a unique and exciting opportunity to publish your student works. There were so many interesting legal issues that I wanted to tackle in my Note that it was hard to pick just one! And although 2L staffers’ writing responsibilities are substantial, I felt like I had an amazing support system. After attending a panel session put on by the 3Ls, talking to professors, presenting my ideas to at a peer symposium, and going back and forth with 3L editors, I finally settled on a topic that I am truly excited about. Further, I will be forever grateful to my 3L Senior Editors, who helped me through the writing process, as well as the 3L Executive Board members that cleaned up my Note for publication.
Because of the kindness and generosity shown to me by the 3Ls on Boston College Law Review, I decided to run for Editor-in-Chief. I look forward to working with outside professors who choose to publish their valuable insights in our journal. I am also eager to get to know some of BC Law’s esteemed professors better, as we often consult them for their opinions. In addition, I plan to pay it forward and help incoming 2Ls (and my fellow 3Ls) learn the ropes of their new positions next year. That way we can continue to put out a high quality journal that also manages to turn staffers into great writers. And finally, I hope to help raise the profile and reputation of Boston College Law Review and BC Law. Joining the BC Law community, and Boston College Law Review in particular, was the best decision I could have made for my career, and I hope that you will join us!
Jennie Davis is a rising 3L at Boston College Law School and the incoming Editor-in-Chief of the Boston College Law Review. This past academic year, she was a staff writer for BCLR. To contact her, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave her a message in the comments below.