Law Review Pros and Cons

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Governor S. Cranston
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Law Review Pros and Cons

Post by Governor S. Cranston » Sat Feb 03, 2018 7:41 am

Law Review Cons:

1) It's literally a waste of 2,000,000 law student hours per year
2) People on law review ghost into their own realm, never to be heard or seen regularly
3) The people who are on law review are in a special kind of lawcest, with the top students (who already know each other) working in the same office

http://insidethelawschoolscam.blogspot. ... views.html

Pros:

1) "Bolsters credibility"
2) Being able to say "I worked hard" (emphasis on sarcasm)
3) Adds further legal research and writing credentials onto a resume

https://abaforlawstudents.com/2014/03/0 ... rs-career/

Going into law school, I had zero interest in law review. Now, everyone I talk to (Career Services, my official "mentor" who is on LR, etc.) is basically saying "You're doing law review, right?" I honestly would much rather do Trial Team and work on my public speaking skills than cite checking.

I'm going the state court clerking route after graduation, or perhaps with a Federal district court judge.

BearCat
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Re: Law Review Pros and Cons

Post by BearCat » Sat Feb 03, 2018 11:15 am

I advocated for LR in a different thread, but since this is the primary purpose of this thread, I'll go into more detail.

To respond to the LawProf article
It's worth emphasizing in this context the utter absurdity of the law review publication system. Almost all law review editors have no academic training beyond an undergraduate education and two years of often intellectually useless and sometimes cognitively damaging law school classes. Almost none of them have ever edited anything. In other words these people are completely unqualified to do what they're expected to do, which is to evaluate literally thousands of submissions, written mostly by people who are neither lawyers nor academics but who are expected to pretend to be both.
First of all, the selection and curating of articles to be published is done by about a handful of people on the board. On our current board, it's about 5 people (basically the articles team). These are the only people for which "academic training" is relevant. I understand that the author used the phrase "almost all," but with respect to the articles team, this is patently untrue. While we were selecting the new board for next year, there were many applicants with PhDs, master's, and even prior publications in reputable journals. I can guarantee you that next year's articles team on my law review has all of the aforementioned credentials.

I have no comment on the "useless and cognitively damaging" law school classes beyond my belief that people--generally--come out of law school smarter than when they went in.

With respect to the responsibilities of most of the board and all of the 2L staff editors, editing work is 90% of it. And believe it or not, law school students are capable of finding typos, commenting on continuity of thought, and fixing comma errors. With respect to bluebooking, that is a learned skill that nobody acquires before going to law school. It is important to note that LR selection outside of grade-on (where the top 5% or 10% automatically get law review) relies on an editing and writing exercise, and at our LR, each written submission is graded by 3 different people. The editing exercise is graded vs a rubric. Aside from grade-on, LR specifically selects for better editors and writers, not people who are better at issue spotting (although I'm aware some schools include GPA in their consideration of all applicants).

Finally, I don't see how law professors--the vast majority of published authors--are "neither lawyers nor academics."
Why not simply have legal academics put their writing on the internet so that law students can do something more productive with their time?
If you've seen the state of articles selected for publication before they go through the LR grinder, you would know why this question is nonsense.

ETA - It looks like this article was written by Paul Campos? If that's the case, I'd be interested in his response ITT.

Personal thoughts

LR provides value to the students themselves:

1.) 2L staff editors - Everyone was one of these at some point. Of most significant note (no pun intended) and perhaps aggravation, 2L editors have to write a student note. This must be on a novel legal topic that is not preempted by existing literature. This exercise is handled by board members (notes editors). Often times, students are encouraged to meet with professors and discuss the topic of their paper. Almost all of the student notes that eventually get published have substantial input from law professors. This exercise in and of itself provides valuable writing training and experience to students. 2L staff editors are also tasked with doing the first round of edits for articles that will be published. They have to not only proofread and bluebook; they have to proposition check. They have to check whether the cited material accurately represents the proposition in the article. To do this, they need to read and at least understand a portion of what the article is saying. This exercise also provides valuable editing and cite checking skills that they can apply to their own work in the future.

2.) 3L senior editors - They do the same thing as 2L staff editors but without the note.

3.) 3L Board members - There are a lot of board positions so I will truncate this into one group. I've already talked about the article team's responsibilities. Most of the board is tasked with doing 2nd round and 3rd round edits of the articles selected for publication. The notes editors are specifically in charge with helping 2Ls write their notes by providing substantive feedback. The EIC manages the entire law review and is also responsible for every single article that is published. For board members who have a supervisory or managerial component to their responsibilities, they get that type of experience as well.

If you're going to be a litigator, it is important that your work be error-free and well cited. Law review trains you specifically for that. If you're going to be a corporate lawyer, it is important you can keep your eyes open while sifting through huge documents looking for misplaced commas. Law review trains you for that. Do you need law review to be a good lawyer? Absolutely not. But my point is that LR provides substantial relevant training for law students.

With respect to LR's contribution to legal academia as a while, LR provides editing services to law professors. This goes back to the original question of "Why can't they just publish on SSRN?" The articles we get that we choose for publication are in super rough draft form. There are blank citations that we fill, pincites missing, and very little proofreading done. Without LR, those 2 million hours will end up being spent by some poor RA somewhere. Either way, if an article is gonna get published, the editing needs to happen. I agree with the Hoffman article about how student notes are generally worthless, but that does not deprive the note writing process of value to the writer.

Lastly, hour requirements are formally somewhere around ~40 hours per credit. Editors get 1 credit/semester, while board members get 2. If you're a board member, you'll have dedicated ~240 hours to LR over the course of 2 years. Maybe I could have done some pro bono work during that time, but who would want pro bono work done by a cognitively damaged law student?
Governor S. Cranston wrote:
Sat Feb 03, 2018 7:41 am
Law Review Cons:

2) People on law review ghost into their own realm, never to be heard or seen regularly

3) The people who are on law review are in a special kind of lawcest, with the top students (who already know each other) working in the same office
I still hang out with my 1L friend group, most of which aren't on LR.

I don't think any new relationships have formed on LR. There are two people I know who started dating and are both on LR, but they met outside of any LR-related event.
Last edited by BearCat on Sat Feb 03, 2018 11:55 am, edited 1 time in total.

Governor S. Cranston
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Re: Law Review Pros and Cons

Post by Governor S. Cranston » Sat Feb 03, 2018 11:37 am

IPeeLaw: thanks and I appreciate your post, I'm going to digest it over the day.

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ilovesf
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Re: Law Review Pros and Cons

Post by ilovesf » Sat Feb 03, 2018 1:37 pm

Governor S. Cranston wrote:
Sat Feb 03, 2018 7:41 am
Law Review Cons:

1) It's literally a waste of 2,000,000 law student hours per year
2) People on law review ghost into their own realm, never to be heard or seen regularly
3) The people who are on law review are in a special kind of lawcest, with the top students (who already know each other) working in the same office
I do not think this is representative of everyone's experience. It is certainly not representative of mine. I suggest talking to people who work on LR at your school instead of getting advice here because I think different journals are structured pretty differently. At my school, as 2Ls, we did mostly cite check. It did not take THAT long and it didn't really bother me that much. As a 3L, there were a ton of different positions that did not include cite checking. For example, you could curate articles instead of actually editing them. Also, I went to a fairly large school, and I did not know most of the other people on LR, at least when I first started. Being on LR did not cut into my social life or my ability to be in other clubs. I also was in a clinic and on the moot court team. As someone who went to a low-ranked school, having LR on my resume helped me get a lot of interviews and I think helped me land my current job. I have no idea if it as helpful when you go to a highly ranked school.

Also, if you are clerking, I would think you might want to do LR to brush up on your blue booking. If you are clerking with a state court though, it will not matter because you might not be using the blue book. For instance, California state courts follow the california style manual.

Dough-Bear
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Re: Law Review Pros and Cons

Post by Dough-Bear » Wed Feb 07, 2018 1:42 pm

IPeeLaw wrote:
Sat Feb 03, 2018 11:15 am

If you're going to be a litigator, it is important that your work be error-free and well cited. Law review trains you specifically for that. If you're going to be a corporate lawyer, it is important you can keep your eyes open while sifting through huge documents looking for misplaced commas. Law review trains you for that. Do you need law review to be a good lawyer? Absolutely not. But my point is that LR provides substantial relevant training for law students.
This is amazing. It is what people who sank endless hours into law review tell themselves to justify all the pointless work they put in.

Is there anyone actually practicing who can say law review "provides substantial relevant training for law students?"

For real?

Dough-Bear
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Re: Law Review Pros and Cons

Post by Dough-Bear » Wed Feb 07, 2018 1:44 pm

I mean lr provides benefit in that firms/judges like to see it when hiring but actual substantive training? lol

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Nony
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Re: Law Review Pros and Cons

Post by Nony » Wed Feb 07, 2018 2:33 pm

It gives you a bunch of practice at grinding away on minute details of stuff you yourself have no personal investment in!

(that said, I do think editing experience is useful given how much writing so many attorneys do.)

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Slytherpuff
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Re: Law Review Pros and Cons

Post by Slytherpuff » Wed Feb 07, 2018 2:57 pm

First year associate here - I definitely found journal work to be helpful. You need to know how to edit and bluebook. My firm also pushes us to work on publications (AKA do a bunch of research and write an article that a partner will ultimately get most of the credit for in some law journal), which is a piece of cake if you wrote or even substantively edited notes while on a journal.

Dough-Bear
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Re: Law Review Pros and Cons

Post by Dough-Bear » Wed Feb 07, 2018 3:12 pm

You learn bluebooking and editing sure. But really you learn the basics in LRW. My point is the marginal benefit from lr is not substantial. You don't learn some secret bluebooking from lr that you don't know from LRW. Sure you might be a better blue booker but in practice you mostly cite cases and statutes. Lr does not provide a "substantial" benefits. It provides a marginal benefit that really isn't worth the marginal cost of hours on end of editing.

And like I said lr is prob worth it just bc judges and firms like it.

But a "substantial" benefit in practice? I don't think so. Hey maybe that's just me

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Nony
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Re: Law Review Pros and Cons

Post by Nony » Wed Feb 07, 2018 3:15 pm

I'm always sort of amused by comments like "hours on end" editing because based on how often they come up my law review must have been a big outlier; it's really not a lot of work. (We also got credit for it.)

Dough-Bear
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Re: Law Review Pros and Cons

Post by Dough-Bear » Wed Feb 07, 2018 3:19 pm

Or maybe my lr was an outlier. It required more work than any class for a semester and a half. Could be my lr just made us work more than others idk

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ilovesf
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Re: Law Review Pros and Cons

Post by ilovesf » Wed Feb 07, 2018 9:50 pm

Nony wrote:
Wed Feb 07, 2018 3:15 pm
I'm always sort of amused by comments like "hours on end" editing because based on how often they come up my law review must have been a big outlier; it's really not a lot of work. (We also got credit for it.)
Same goes for me.

lolwat
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Re: Law Review Pros and Cons

Post by lolwat » Sun Feb 11, 2018 2:24 am

ilovesf wrote:
Wed Feb 07, 2018 9:50 pm
Nony wrote:
Wed Feb 07, 2018 3:15 pm
I'm always sort of amused by comments like "hours on end" editing because based on how often they come up my law review must have been a big outlier; it's really not a lot of work. (We also got credit for it.)
Same goes for me.
Yeah, I dunno. Not only did I get credit for LR, but it took fewer hours of work for those credits than an actual class would have taken.

To the rest of this thread--I didn't read the lawprof article, but I generally agree with IPeeLaw's post.

And I think those who think it's useless generally are either (1) getting out of it what they put into it or (2) go into practice doing things totally unrelated to the benefits LR provide anyway.

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