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To Journal or not to Journal: First Year Law Students Ponder the Question

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As anxious first year law students gather for classes to begin there is a decision they will face soon into the school year. Every Law School has a Journal that the law students, write, edit, and publish. The Journal is a great experience for Law Students who can write and do research with hopes of getting published. The Journal has a staunch time requirement and it offers credits toward the law degree.

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There is a big competition to join a Journal. Around February of each School year the Journals hold the competition by looking for the best. Students will have the opportunity to vie for only a few coveted places available on the Journal. Competition is stiff and many 1st year law students don't always know what it is all about, other than things they have heard from on campus visits, campus tours, and other law students.

This article takes a look at some of those statements in misalignment with the truth regarding the Journal.
 
  • Some students perpetuated the belief that membership on an academic Journal is a prize for law students
  • Journal is a ''rite of passage'' for first year law students. To participate one must spend their whole spring break barricaded in the law library
  • You have to devote 5 hours a week to Journal
  • To get a good position with a firm you must be a Journal member.
  • To get a clerkship for the summer you must be a member of the Journal

The Truth
 
  • Some first year students are clueless to the Journal their first year. Clueless students didn't know what it was and didn't compete.
  • The commitment is much greater than expected and a law student will put in some weekends and all nighters to write or edit for the Journal.
  • The truth is, if you get to write an article and get published, you get recognition. Otherwise you might spend all your time on the Journal editing.
  • You have to ask, is the Journal something that will allow you to shine? Is it worth the time for you? Would you be better in other competitions on campus like clinics that challenge lawyering skills?
  • Once Journal boards make their decisions on membership, the Law Students do not have another chance to make a decision to join.
  • Being hired for an internship or any legal position is not subject to membership to a Journal

What is the advice from Law Schools?

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It doesn't hurt to take part in the first year Journal writing competition. You can always turn down the offer to join. It is easier to explain to employers why you didn't join. One Professor by the name of Richards wisely said, ''I really believe in my no regrets approach to law school. Maybe you'll go up to bat and swing the bat and strike out completely... but you'll never have to wonder if you could have hit a home run.''

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