Pick a Journal, Any Journal

Emily O'Hara, 2L

Emily O’Hara, 2L

Most students at William & Mary will join a journal after their first year of law school. William & Mary Law has five journals including: the William & Mary Law Review; the Bill of Rights Journal; the Business Law Review; the Environmental Law & Policy Review; and the Journal of Race, Gender, and Social Justice. By being members of a journal, students can improve their writing, advance their editing skills, and develop great friendships.

After spring exams, Journals invite first-year students to participate in the Joint Journal Competition. This week-long competition requires students to read through a closed-book packet of materials and write a ten-page paper on any subject of their choice. Students are graded based on organization, the clarity of their arguments, and their abilities to correctly cite sources. Along with the paper, Journals ask students to edit five footnotes in the correct citation format. Upon completing these tasks, students submit their materials. Students also rank the journals upon which they seek placement. Based on a student’s rankings and the student’s competition score, that student will match with a Journal. Journals notify first-year students of their placement over the summer.

BORJ Editorial

Members of the Bill of Rights Journal editorial staff discuss the upcoming issue

As 2L staff members, students cite-check sections of authors’ articles. During these cite-checks, students verify that the author’s footnotes were formatted correctly, confirm that the author correctly quotes phrases, and check the sentence structure and grammar of the author’s piece. Students also write a Student Note (a 15,000-word paper) on a topic of their choosing. A student may choose to submit their note for publication. All students who accept their Journal placement are required to perform these two tasks as a 2L staff member.

After the fall semester of their 2L years, staff members are invited to apply for editorial board positions. Editorial board positions allow students to gain more leadership experience and influence on their respective journals. Further, as members of the editorial or executive board, students work closely with one another in a team setting. For example, as the Senior Articles Editor for the William & Mary Law Review, I work with four other executive board members to oversee the editing and administrative processes of the Law Review. I also manage the Article Selection process by communicating with authors and coordinating with six Lead Articles Editors to choose well-written articles for Volume 61. During our meetings, we select, discuss, and vote on authors’ articles on which we would like to give offers. Through this experience, I have refined my analytical skills by evaluating an author’s writing style, organization, and legal argument. More importantly, I have worked closely with a lot of amazing people and formed great friendships that will continue to make this Journal experience a positive one!

Journal can be a lot of work, but it can also be a lot of fun. Getting to develop skills while working with talented individuals and creating long-lasting relationships is a great experience-and one I will fondly look back on for years to come.