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The following discussion thread excerpt is from an ongoing law.com online seminar, “Making the Most Out of Law School,” moderated by Cameron Stracher. For more information on this program and other law.com seminar offerings please visit law.com/seminars. Cameron Stracher, Attorney at Law, New York, N.Y. There’s been a lot of good advice about how to survive and thrive in law school. I’d like to focus a little more specifically on 1L’s and 2L’s. Should law students be gunning for law review? What happens if you don’t make it? Are there alternatives, and if so, which ones are the best? Amy Halloran, Weintraub Genshlea Chediak Sproul, Sacramento, Calif. I think it depends what your goals are. During the end of my first year, as I was agonizing over the writing competition for law review, I realized that I had no interest in being involved in law review and that I had been caught up in the “you have to be on law review” attitude. So, I quit writing and participating in the competition. But I knew that I didn’t want to practice at a traditional big firm where such experience would matter. Not being on law review freed me to participate in moot court competitions, which I found to be more enjoyable, as well as to experience law clerk positions with different practitioners. In my opinion, having the opportunity to work with practitioners in areas in which I was interested was a much better use of my time. My frustration with law school was my feeling that the atmosphere catered to those who knew they were headed for big firms and, therefore, knew they needed to be in the top 10 percent and law review. I think it takes a lot more effort to carve out law school experiences that represent the other 90 percent of the class and alternatives to big firm practice. I would say never do anything just because everyone else is or because “you’ll never get a job if you don’t.” It’s just not true — I’ve had great employment experiences without law review on my resume. Audree Crites, College Student, North Central College, Naperville, Ill. When you say law review in regards to first- and second-year law school students, what do you mean? I am an undergraduate student who is not familiar with that terminology, but I’d like to know what to expect when and if I attend law school. John McCaffrey, Kronish Lieb, New York, N.Y. I think we need to bring the activity of law review into context. To answer the question posed by Audree Crites above, “law review” is a phrase we’re using to refer to a publication put out by a law school. Sometimes they go by “law journal” (e.g. at Yale). The publication consists largely of scholarly articles, notes, comments and book reviews authored by law school professors (in the case of articles and book reviews) and the students on the review (in the case of notes and comments and some book reviews). The law review differs from school to school, but being on it often requires a competition of some sort: some law reviews have an automatic GPA contest, some have writing competitions at the end of the first year, some use both. In any event, the final element to understand is that because there’s a competition, some prestige attaches. The prestige is going to vary, depending on the prestige of the school and the quality of the publication. Again, depending on the school, there may be other journals or activities. At some schools the writing competition is the same for all the journals, at some you may have to enter a number of different competitions or go through interviews. The decision therefore has to be made in reference to the other choices: What about moot court or the other journals? What are the odds of making it on to law review? Are the odds worth going through the effort of the competition? I don’t think “might as well” would be a sufficiently strong reason for me to research and draft something on my free time. There’s little doubt that being on law review can be a plus on your resume, but it won’t be much if all you’re going to do is be a staff editor (that’s who does the ” Bluebooking”). A staff editor is responsible for looking up and verifying the supporting references in a piece (cite and substance checking) and putting them into the standardized format ( Bluebooking). These are your required activities for the first year, and then you’re encouraged to join various committees. At the end of your 2L year, positions on the editorial board of the journal open up and there’s further competition for those roles. If your school has a publication, a clinic, or an activity other than law review that really interests you, and you think the demands of work and school work make the two activities mutually exclusive, you should think twice abut committing yourself to the review. I would think it far more interesting that someone was a moot court finalist because they were really passionate about that activity or ran a student committee (for example) than that they simply passed the days on law review. Some law schools have rules against journal editors participating in clinics. You need to look into these as well. Being on a journal can be rewarding and fun, but it’s something you do in lieu of something else, because your time is limited. Finally, even if you don’t have to choose between the variety of other activities your school may have to offer, at the very least the review will cut into your free time. A number of participants have validly mentioned the difficult balancing act that you have to perform in law school. Being on the review is going to take away from something. You need to make sure that it’s not taking the place of something you value more than what the review offers. Jessica Horvath, Second-Year Law Student, Hofstra University School of Law, Hempstead, N.Y. I personally think that the way other students behave is ridiculous when it comes to their achievements. While it surely is beneficial for a student to make law review, it is not necessary, yet the grand majority of our classmates walk around this campus trying to make everyone else feel that they are inferior for not attempting to write for a journal. The most important thing is to focus on what interests you, and the area of law you would like to practice in. If writing for a journal is something you want to do, then you should do it; if you prefer to use your time for other things, then do that instead. Most importantly, don’t pay attention to those who try to make you feel that you are not doing enough or living up to your potential. Monica Monroe, First-Year Law Student, Catholic University School of Law, Washington, D.C. Lawyers and law students are so privileged. Our professional options are almost limitless with a law degree. By making law review or one of your school’s journals you step up a notch. I entered law school with every intention of getting good grades and trying for law review. My 2L and 3L friends that are on law review are honest when they tell me it is not always fun. Not even sometimes fun: It is tedious, mind-numbing hours upon hours of cite-checking. You develop an intimacy with the beloved Bluebookthat your partner will be jealous of. Not fun … but most of us in law school want to be lawyers or enter another profession that involves analysis and writing ability. Law review gives you instant credibility: It is like wearing a sign that says “I am among the best writers at my law school.” This credential is yours for life. I go to a lot of legal seminars, lectures, and networking events here in D.C. and whenever a lawyer or judge is introduced as a speaker, in the course of extolling the virtues of his or her career; law review participation is ALWAYS mentioned (even if it was 40 years ago). It’s like: Yes, we know he or she is brilliant NOW. Look how this person has filled this room with other lawyers waiting to hear what he or she has to say. But, now there is the proof that this person was brilliant way back while in law school. Whether in three years I go to work for the SEC, DOJ, FBI, or BIGLAW, I will be competing for these jobs with other graduates that have made law review. I think by not at least trying to make review or a journal one would be doing him/herself a disservice. Luigi Vigliotti, Third-Year Law Student, Hofstra University School of Law, Hempstead, N.Y. I think that law review is certainly something that all 1Ls and 2Ls should consider. However, as was mentioned in one of the above messages, it is very often a time-consuming, tedious and frustrating experience. I am not on law review, but I can see the effects that it has on some, if not most, of my fellow students who are on law review or another journal. If a student gets onto law review or another journal, it will open new doors and provide innumerable opportunities for future employment and in addition, it will help students become stronger writers. One thing to keep in mind, however, is that law review is not necessary for all types of employment. It seems to me that most big firms, particularly corporate law firms, want law review students. Someone going into a small firm or perhaps trial advocacy has nothing to fear. I think each student needs to figure out what he/she likes and in which direction he/she wants to go. That’s a tough thing to figure out in the first and maybe sometimes even in the second year of law school. But for those students that know right away that they don’t want to get into a field of law that prefers its practitioners to have been law review students, try out for it anyway. You never know what you may like until you experience it. If you’re satisfied with not being on law review and you could care less, then that’s OK too. The vast majority of lawyers practicing today were not on law review. And many of them have had very successful careers in every field of law, notwithstanding the fact that they never got that little membership card that says: “LAW REVIEW MEMBER: I’M ABSOLUTELY BRILLIANT, NOW HIRE AND ADMIRE ME!” No offense to anyone on law review. The point that I’m trying to convey is that while law review is a great opportunity maker, not being on it does not in any way foreclose your future in law, and likewise, being on it certainly does not guarantee future success. Ruta Stropus, Assistant Dean for Educational Services, DePaul University School of Law, Chicago, Ill. I think we need to think of skills fostered by law review in a broader context. One of the questions I was always asked on a job interview was “are you a good writer?” Being on law review was only one [way] to demonstrate this ability. However, law review articles do not necessarily translate into the ability to write different types of law documents. Therefore, I think law students should keep a broader perspective. Are you a good writer? If so, what do you have to prove it? What type of writer are you? How good are you at producing different types of documents? Can you draft a contract, write a memorandum in support of a motion to dismiss, or are your skills limited to producing a commentary or case note?

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