The Advantages of Joining Law Review, Part II

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The Advantages of Joining Law Review, Part II

District Judge Dana M. Sabraw, who sits on the bench of the United States District Court, Southern District, in San Diego, CA, says that though it's not a prerequisite, he often seeks out law clerks with law review experience for several reasons. First, he believes that handling law review tasks is ''a good indicator that a person can write well, which is extremely important since lengthy and detailed opinions are issued at the district court level.'' Second, law review membership implies that individuals ''knew how to write well before joining the law review and that they've since improved their proofreading and cite skills.'' Finally, Judge Sabraw says students who serve on law review are usually ''highly motivated people who work hard, try to excel in school, and are always looking for excellence in what they do.'' Like most jurists, Judge Sabraw served on law review while he was in law school.

In contrast to judges and practicing attorneys who are quick to note the positive work ethics of students with law review experience, current law students addressing the advantages of serving on law review often accentuate the stimulating legal environment that surrounds them on a daily basis. Ian Millhiser, a 2L serving on the Duke Law Journal, said he especially values two aspects of his membership on law review. ''I like the camaraderie of being part of a community 'in the trenches together,' and I appreciate the chance to review many of the articles that come in which address some of the hottest ideas in current legal scholarship.''

Thiru Vignarajah, a 3L currently serving on The Harvard Law Review said,
''I think I've derived three main sets of benefits from serving as an editor of The Harvard Law Review. First and most important, the Law Review is a vibrant intellectual and social community. We regularly discuss a wide range of topics ranging from reality TV to presidential politics. Second, Law Review offers a series of opportunities to engage in substantive writing projects; editors are given three distinct opportunities to select topics of interest to them and turn their ideas into law review articles of their own. In fact, our own student-written articles are submitted to a dozen editors who provide collaborative and constructive feedback. Finally, Law Review work gives its members a sustained opportunity to really develop their editing skills.''
Mr. Vignarajah added, ''Editorial work on law review [also] exposes members to cutting-edge legal scholarship. We receive nearly 2,000 articles each year, although we are only able to publish a fraction of those pieces.''

Upon graduation, Mr. Vignarajah will serve as a law clerk for Judge Guido Calabresi of the Second Circuit Court of Appeals.

What does all this tell you, the already over-worked student? Get ready for more ork, because from the practicing attorney, judge, and student points of view, it might be wise to try to join a law review. On a personal level, it helps develop core legal skills, builds personal relationships, and exposes you to the latest legal ideas. The nice part for you is that no matter what you end up doing with your degree, you will increase your personal value. In addition, employers see membership on a law review as a good indicator that the potential employee possesses traits and skills they want.

Still, be sure that you can commit to the endeavor. Doing so will ensure that you enjoy the extra work or at least have not fooled yourself into thinking you can sign on, do the smallest amount necessary (which is still quite a bit), and receive a gold star to impress future employers. Remember, lawyers ask questions, and if they probe and then think you were merely a ''joiner,'' all that work will have been for nothing. So be honest with yourself about the tremendous benefits to joining a law review, the many hours of hard work needed to gain those benefits, and your personal goals as an attorney. From there you will be better able to make the decision that is right for you.

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