Law Reviews

Choosing the next editor of the law review.

It so happens that we are right in the middle of election season for law review boards. At top law schools around the country, 2Ls who want to be Supreme Court clerks — or Supreme Court justices, or even presidents — are finding out if they’ll be able to include “Editor in Chief: Law Review” on their résumés for the rest of their lives. At less prestigious schools, 2Ls are hoping that a place on the editorial board of their school’s law review will help them get a job upon graduation.

(And people who are not on law review have another week or two to get hammered and enjoy the fledgling spring before they need to hunker down and cram for finals.)

The people involved in law review elections take the popularity contest selection process very seriously. At many places, the debates over whom to pick last well into the night, and the election takes many ballots before a winner is declared. The process at many places is so ritualistic, it’s a wonder that newly minted editors-in-chief don’t adopt new names when they win, just like the Popes. Can’t you see it now: Homosextius I of the Harvard Law Review?

Of course, if there are winners, there have to be losers. And some losers don’t take their losing lying down. Thanks to the magic of forwarded emails, we are able to bring you one such story of law-review-losing bitterness…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “2L Bitter Over Law Review Snub Illustrates Why He Wasn’t EIC Material”

[N]eedless to say, I have not read the nineteenth edition. I have dipped into it, much as one might dip one’s toes in a pail of freezing water. I am put in mind of Mr. Kurtz’s dying words in Heart of Darkness — ‘The horror! The horror!’ — and am tempted to end there.

— Judge Richard Posner, in a scathing Yale Law Journal review of The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation (19th ed.).

(For additional discussion and funny excerpts, see Paul Horwitz, Ilya Somin, and Eugene Volokh.)

Ed. note: This is the latest installment of Inside Straight, Above the Law’s new column for in-house counsel, written by Mark Herrmann.

First, a story; then, an attempt to find a job for an unemployed former editor-in-chief of the Chicago-Kent Law Review.

Here’s the story: After I wrote The Curmudgeon’s Guide to Practicing Law, I thought about how to maximize sales of the book. I had the clever (if I do say so myself) idea of sending free copies to the editors-in-chief of a bunch of law reviews. I figured that those folks were likely to (1) read a book and (2) be “opinion leaders” on their respective campuses, so word of the book would spread.

But there was a fly in my ointment. If you send a law student a book, the student is likely to read the book and pass it on to a friend, who will do the same in turn. That generates readers (which is nice), but it doesn’t generate sales (which is nicer).

How do you prevent this?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Inside Straight: Hire This Unemployed Chicago-Kent Editor-in-Chief!”

Home to the Lord of all law reviews, Gannett House on the HLS campus.

All law reviews are not created equal. We all know this.

But the prestige of your law review isn’t directly correlated to the prestige of your law school. One obvious case of that is the fact that the Harvard Law Review is widely considered to be the most prestigious law review, even though Yale has a better law school (according to U.S. News… and people who don’t like crowds).

Unfortunately, U.S. News does not rank law reviews — at least not yet. One day, U.S. News will rank everything from high school debate programs to cremation operations; for now, we are left with only our general assumptions about who has the best law review.

But not anymore. The good people at Concurring Opinions have found a website that puts together a fairly competent rating of the nation’s best law reviews. Finally, students who edit the best law reviews, and professors who publish in them, can point to a list when they are trying to use their prestige to pull digits at a bar.

And this list passes the smell test, which is to say it pretty much tells us what we already think we know…

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We’ve been doing a series of posts looking at whether women and minorities are adequately represented on the mastheads of the nation’s law reviews. The subject is definitely a contentious one, and our posts have generated a high number of comments.

Perhaps we should shift our focus to underrepresented minorities (URMs) — sayonara, Asians — since women are actually doing just fine for themselves. And you don’t have to take our word for it. This conclusion comes from a report (PDF) that was just released by Ms. JD, which conducted a study of law reviews at the 2009 U.S. News “Top 50″ law schools for the 2008-2010 academic years. Based on the study, Ms. JD made the following findings:

  • The overall percentage of women who are members of law reviews, 44.3 percent, correlates strongly with the number of women awarded law degrees during the same time period, 45.7 percent.
  • The percentage of women in leadership positions on law reviews, 46.2 percent, also correlates strongly with the number of women awarded law degrees during the same time period, 45.7 percent.

But there was one area where women remain underrepresented….

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Earlier this month, roughly around the time that newly minted law review editors were hearing the good news, we raised the issue of how many minorities and women are being selected for law review.

It’s not a new debate; whether underrepresented minorities (URMs) and women are adequately represented on the nation’s leading law journals has long been a subject of controversy. But in light of the tough legal job market, in which credentials like law review membership are more valuable than ever, it’s certainly a subject worth revisiting.

We kicked off the discussion with this tip:

You may want to investigate proportions of URMs [underrepresented minorities] and women at some top 5 law reviews. I hear that [one school] took 29 1Ls, but only 7 women and no African-Americans. [Another school] took 45 first-year editors, about even male/female, but only 2 URMs in the bunch.

Which law journals are being referred to here? And how are URMs and women doing at other law reviews — perhaps yours is mentioned — around the country?

UPDATE: Please note that a few updates and corrections have been added since this post was originally published. Check them out after the jump.

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It’s early August. Law students are getting ready to go back to school. And some students — lucky or unlucky, you be the judge — are going back earlier than others, to work on their schools’ law reviews.

Over the summer, rising 2Ls around the country received the rather important news: whether they made it on to their school’s law review. Serving on the school’s official law review can involve a lot of work. But it’s generally regarded as worth it, in terms of the prestige / résumé boost, intrinsic value of the experience, and networking opportunities with current and former editors. If you’ve been selected, congratulations!

New editors of the Harvard Law Review — former home of President Obama and still the nation’s most prestigious law journal, despite various incidents of ridiculousness over the past few years (scroll through our past coverage) — were notified last month, around the week of July 19. The good news was delivered primarily by phone.

The Yale Law Journal also welcomed its new editors last month, after selecting them through a Bluebook and editing competition. At a mixer I attended here in New York, for YLJ alumni and newly accepted editors, one joyous new recruit told me that he celebrated his acceptance by going out to Hugo Boss and buying shiny silver pants dress shoes. (“I went to Prada at first, but they did not treat me the way I should be treated!”)

Silver pants New shoes from Hugo Boss? Making law review is clearly a big deal.

But is the prize of law journal membership being distributed fairly? This year, at certain law journals, controversy appears to be brewing about the new editors….

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(And a question about minorities on law review.)

A younger Elena Kagan

It’s Elena Kagan’s “wise Latina” comment. Just as Court watchers dug up a controversial, eight-year-old statement by Sonia Sotomayor last year, they have unearthed a law review article that Kagan authored in 1995 when she was a young law professor at the University of Chicago. In it, she criticized the Supreme Court confirmation hearings as they existed then (and now) as a “vapid and hollow charade,” in desperate need of reform to get at a nominee’s true judicial philosophy and views.

Now the statement is being thrown back at Elena Kagan as she prepares for her own confirmation hearings. Such is the nature of the modern confirmation process, when everything one has said or written can be found in the immense digital file cabinet that is the Internet (which is not always a bad thing, as Lat and Kash argue in a Washington Post piece today on myths about the confirmation process). A search of “Kagan and charade” in Google returned over 5,000 results this morning.

This seems like an opportune time to take a more thorough look at the 25-page book review from which the sound bite comes, and to highlight other passages that shed light on a 35-year-old Kagan’s opinion of the confirmation process. Not all of it casts a dark shadow when brought to light today. Regarding a nominee’s qualifications for the highest court, she presciently asked:

Must, for example …, a nominee have served on another appellate court — or may (as I believe) she demonstrate the requisite intelligence and legal ability through academic scholarship, the practice of law, or governmental service of some other kind?

Perhaps by serving as Harvard Law School dean, and then as Solicitor General?

What other gems can be found in the 15-year-old document?

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UConn Law Logo.JPGWho hasn’t “killed off a grandparent” in order to obtain an extension on a paper? I had a friend who went through six grandmothers in four years of college.
But one University of Connecticut law student is not joking around. As we understand it, an editor of the Connecticut Law Review received an email this morning from a rising 2L who is trying to write on to law review. The submission is due tomorrow, but the 2L is seeking an extension because of troubles back on the home front. The 2L pointed the law review editor to this article in the Hartford Courant, which allegedly concerns the 2L’s parents (one of them a local lawyer):

Police continue to negotiate with an armed man who they believe is holding his estranged wife hostage and who claimed that his house is wired with explosives.

We hope the 2L received that extension — and that everything turns out okay.
For students who do not have crazy situations like parental terrorism taking place at home, I imagine your requests for extensions are weak.
Update (9:15 PM): According to the Hartford Courant, the hostage has been safely released.
Update (11 PM): Not surprisingly, the 2L received the requested extension. All’s well that ends well.
Hostage Drama Unfolding In South Windsor [Hartford Courant]
Hostage Situation May Involve Hartford Lawyer [Connecticut Law Tribune]

Cardozo school of law logo.JPGWe’ve been bringing you a number of stories about law students melting down as the recession, finals, swine flu, and a spate of year-end elections takes its toll on America’s next generation of lawyers.

The latest missive comes from a female Cardozo student who accuses the Cardozo law review board of gender bias. It turns out that this student lost an election to be Editor-in-Chief of the Cardozo law review.

But it also turns out that the executive board of the Cardozo law review has no female members.

The situation is so surprising that school officials have organized a meeting of all the law review 2Ls to discuss this matter. Unfortunately, the student who lost the Editor-in-Chief election will not be able to attend. Fortunately (for Above the Law readers), she decided to commit her thoughts to email:

I believe the journal does have a problem with gender bias in elections that we should address. It was striking that, for the second year in a row, the executive board does not have a single female member. It also stands out that, of all the editorial board positions with input into the article selection process for both the Law Review and de novo, not a single position is held by a woman.

The all-male composition of the most influential positions on the editorial board is at odds with the composition of the journal. It is also at odds with the objective performance of the female members of the staff. Of the thirty-seven Vol. 30 staffers, sixteen (43%) are women and twenty-one (57%) are men. The results of the blind Note-selection process mirror these statistics: of the sixteen Notes selected for publication in Vol. 31, seven (44%) were authored by female staffers and nine (56%) were authored by male staffers. Statistics are not available by which I could objectively assess the quality of staffers’ C&Sing work. However, the Note publication rates suggest that, when blind judging is applied, female staffers perform as well as male staffers. This objective fact regarding the quality of female staffers’ Notes is not reflected by the results of the past election. I believe there were well-qualified female candidates for the executive board and other editorial board positions who were overlooked.

Are law reviews still just an elaborate old boy network? You’d think not, you’d hope not, but this student provides other compelling stats after the jump.

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