Before arriving here, I had heard of law journals—or law reviews, as they are also known—but understood very little of how they really worked. I like to think I understand a thing or two now that I’ve served on the William & Mary Law Review for over six months.
W&M Law boasts five journals. Membership in any one begins with a write-on competition at the end of the first year. The competition has two parts: an editing portion and a writing portion. Students are selected for a given journal based on their performance in the competition and the order in which they rank their preferred journals.
Introductory matters aside, I’ve found my time on the Law Review equal parts rewarding and enriching. Staff members like myself have two duties: cite checking and writing an original note. Cite checking is essentially the process of editing the articles selected for publication. It requires the staff member to confirm the factual accuracy of the author’s statements, add authority to support the author’s assertions, and edit for proper grammar and citations. Though challenging, this process confers several benefits to the cite checker. I’ve worked on excellent legal scholarship, improved my research and writing skills, and learned of topics I otherwise wouldn’t have discovered.
Writing a note has been just as challenging and rewarding. A note is the law student’s version of an article that would appear in a journal (“note” is one of the many misnomers in the legal lexicon because the papers are typically over forty pages long). Staff members complete their notes over the course of the year, working closely with the journal’s Notes Editors to produce a work of publishable quality. I’m writing about the law of outer space as it pertains to asteroid mining. I’ve learned just how much research goes into journal pieces (spoiler alert: a whole mess) and the patience necessary to make it work.
Membership on a journal is a valuable component of the law school experience. The skills I have honed on the Law Review have translated usefully to other parts of my legal life. And no one in the profession can deny the purchase journal participation carries on a resume.
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