Should you write for law review? I suppose that before I get into whether or not you should write for the law review at your law school, I should probably tell you what law review is.
Law review is the lawyerly version of a medical or scientific journal. Think of it this way, the Harvard Law Review is akin to the Journal of the American Medical Association. It’s a big deal if you can get an article published there.
Law review articles are authored by judges, professors, professionals, and even students, about various issues that may come up in specific areas of law.
The articles tend to be long, and oftentimes difficult to get through. I found myself falling asleep multiple times when I attempted to read some articles from various law reviews, and those were the sports and entertainment journals!
If you ultimately decide you want to write for your school’s law review, you just need to remember one thing: you aren’t going to actually be writing the articles.
It’s All About the Editing
Your first and most important job if you get into your school’s law review journal is to make sure the submissions get edited. You’ll be checking for grammatical and spelling errors, word choice, and most importantly—proper use of legal citation.
Legal citation comes from what is called the Blue Book. It’s a large book that contains nothing but references and rules for how to properly cite sources. Within its pages you’ll find how to cite case law, websites, books, and the like. There’s no sugar-coating this: it’s very tedious work!
So, if you’re considering law review, remember, your job will be to make boring material even more boring … (I’m only mostly kidding.)
Is Law Review Worth the Effort?
This is the million dollar question, really. In order to give you an answer, I want to ask this question in a slightly different way. Hopefully it will help to illustrate my point.
Is editing for law review the best use of your free time?
(And keep in mind: your “free time” will be in seriously limited supply in law school!)
Those arguing in favor of law review all say the same thing—big firms and judges like law review. It shows that you are intelligent. You have a good work ethic. It can help you become a professor. It shows you’ve gone through rigorous training. And it will give you a leg up on other students.
I just have one more question: Are there other equally effective ways to accomplish those goals?
The answer to that question is simple: it depends.
If you want to work in a judicial clerkship, or you want to become a professor, I suggest to look long and hard at getting into law review. Nothing says “potential professor” like having law review editor on your resume. In face, it’s often frowned on if you weren’t on law review.
However, as a general rule, that’s where the law review benefits stop being superior. If you want to do anything else in law, you’ll be able to find something to do with your time that will be equally beneficial. Things like internships, working for law firms, focusing on your grades—these will all give you as much of a leg up as law review will. (And will likely be a lot more interesting!)