If you’re anything like me, you probably had a vague idea of what law review was prior to law school. As former Impact bloggers have discussed, there are ups and downs and benefits and drawbacks. Those bloggers have covered a lot of ground, so I won’t go into all that again here. Simply put, you should definitely do some research to determine if joining law review is right for you (reading those earlier posts is a good place to start!).
That being said, I knew I wanted to join BC’s Law Review for a number of reasons. I wanted to improve my writing skills, wished to keep the door open for potential clerkship opportunities, and hoped to go into the on-campus interview process with a strong resume. Plus, BC’s Law Review does not limit you to writing within a specific subject area and I am excited to delve into an area of the law that truly excites me next semester. To me, these benefits outweighed any potential drawbacks.
Although I still know that joining Law Review was the right decision for me and I have appreciated the opportunity to work alongside great editors and staff writers, there was one factor I never fully appreciated: the pressure that accompanies getting published. Don’t get me wrong: I knew it would be an invaluable opportunity to join the legal conversation this early on in my career. But what if I had an embarrassing typo or misunderstood the law?
When I got to law school, the only thing I knew about law review was that Obama was Editor in Chief of the Harvard Law Review, and that sounded like a cool title. But I wanted to know more. So, a year and a half ago I decided to go undercover on BC’s Law Review. After toiling through the application process, getting accepted, and later sneaking my way onto the executive board, I’m finally able to publish my discoveries. Many of those I met and spoke with along the journey would only speak on background, but their accounts have been diligently verified by Impact‘s fact-checking team.
Law reviews (or journals; the terms can be used interchangeably) are the legal profession’s academic journals. They are the equivalent of medical or psychological journals for those respective fields, with a ranking system that is similar. Having your article published in Harvard Law Review is like having your study published in the New England Journal of Medicine. Authors, usually law professors, submit articles to the editorial boards of journals, which select the articles that are published. The difference for law reviews is that the editorial staff is composed almost exclusively of students, although some law reviews are run by practicing attorneys, or “adults.” According to the rankings, there were at least 1,529 (1529 in “Bluebook,” the language spoken by law review editors) law reviews in publication in 2017. Many of these are housed at law schools, and some schools have multiple journals. BC had four journals until two years ago, when they were consolidated into BC Law Review (BCLR). BC also has an independent journal, the UCC Digest, but I leave it to someone else to go undercover and pierce their corporate veil.
There’s no way around it: law school is arduous and stressful, even without law review. An average law student can expect to spend around 40 hours a week preparing for and attending class, and the average law review member can expect to add another 20 hours a week on top of that. If you’re one of the bold who would serve in a leadership capacity (editor in chief, senior editor, etc.), expect to add another 10-20 hours a week.
So why did I do it? It is not necessarily intuitive why someone would want to voluntarily subject themselves to such conditions, but serving as a member of law review comes with a lot of practical benefits.
People often ask me what’s different about 2L year compared to 1L year. Among other things, like more challenging classes and having a better handle on the way law school works, there’s one thing in particular that has made my 2L experience a whole lot different from my 1L year: being on a journal.
What’s a journal? At the end of their 1L year, BC Law students have the opportunity to participate in a writing competition in order to be on the staff of one of BC Law’s nationally-recognized law journals. Currently, there are five journals at BC Law: the Boston College Law Review (BCLR), the Boston College Environmental Affairs Law Review, the Boston College International and Comparative Law Review, the Boston College Journal of Law and Social Justice, and the U.C.C. Reporter-Digest (note: with the exception of the U.C.C. Reporter-Digest, at the end of this academic year all the journals will be consolidated into the Boston College Law Review, and each subject area will be given appropriate space for articles within BCLR). All 2Ls hold staff writer positions in the journal to which they belong, while the 3Ls hold different editorial positions.
Yesterday was a day of celebration for me and my fellow 1Ls. It was the day that the writing competition was due. It was the day that we could finally embrace summer.
While all of us are understandably eager to have a break from school, I always like to leave a little room for nostalgia. Below are a few anecdotes that I gathered from my 1L friends about their favorite memories from this year, to remind us of what made our first year of law school so special. Enjoy!
Editor’s Note: Erica Coray is the incoming Editor-in-Chief of the Boston College Journal of Law & Social Justice. Erica was kind enough to author a blog about the academic journals at BC Law, and why she chose to join JLSJ. We are very pleased to present our fifth and final letter about the benefits of being on a journal and why 1Ls should participate in the writing competition.
You’ve just finished the last exam of your first year of law school, you’re exhausted and elated at the same time, not quite sure of what just happened, and you follow the crowd upstairs to pick up the writing competition packet for journals. And it is huge. And long. That’s when you start questioning, “do I really want to do this? Two more weeks of research and writing? And Bluebooking? But I just finished, don’t I deserve a break?”
Yes, you do want to do it, and not just because it looks great on your résumé (though it does), but because being part of a journal your 2L year is an invaluable experience like none other in law school. Continue reading
Editor’s Note: Erica Novack is the incoming Editor-in-Chief of the Boston College Environmental Affairs Law Review. Erica was gracious enough to submit a post about the academic journals at BC Law, and what differentiates EALR from the rest. We are very pleased to present our fourth letter about the reasons to join the staff of a journal, and how students can apply.
I would like to echo what BCLR’s Editor-in-Chief Jennie Davis wrote in her thoughtful letter. The writing competition can be a trying experience, but you will get through it! And when you do, you will have the whole summer to unwind from this year. As you begin this competition, remember, you are all great writers, and you have proven it to your professors and to your peers (and to yourself) all year. Your experiences before BC together with your training this year have thoroughly prepared you for this competition. Continue reading
Editor’s Note: Aaron Williams is the incoming Editor-in-Chief of the Uniform Commercial Code Reporter-Digest. Despite being busy with things like the end of the second year of law school and taking the reins on the Digest, Aaron was kind enough to author a post about what sets his journal apart both functionally and culturally. We are very pleased to present the third in our series of letters about the rewards of working on a journal, and how interested students can get involved.
O Say Can U.C.C. ?
This year’s 1Ls are nearly next year’s 2Ls. By the time this is posted, the only hurdles left to clear will be a Criminal Law exam … and the writing competition. In theory, the competition is optional. In reality, it isn’t. Or, at least, it shouldn’t be.
I understand that the last thing you’re going to want to do mid-day on Friday is march on up to Stuart’s fifth floor and collect the competition packet, which will rival your Con Law casebook for thickness. But that’s exactly what you will do. Because you’re a law student and, thus, a masochist.
The reward for strong performance in the competition is journal membership. Joining a journal confers myriad benefits. You’ll develop your writing and editing skills. You’ll impress employers. You’ll eventually be able to hang a masthead on your office wall.
UCC Reporter-Digest membership, meanwhile, provides all of that and more. Our publication can be distinguished from BC Law’s traditional law journals in several important ways.
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. Continue reading