Secondary Journal - Can I blow it off?

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Secondary Journal - Can I blow it off?

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Feb 25, 2017 12:05 pm

Making the decision of whether to go for a secondary journal. There is a chance to write on to Law Review, but I don't see it as even remotely likely. Is it worth the effort of enduring journal tryouts to put a secondary journal on my resume?

Background: 1L at T14, median, 6-10 years of professional work experience on resume, targeting secondary market Biglaw and have a 1L SA in a secondary market lined up for this summer. Will also have other law school involvement on resume (think affinity group, admissions involvement, SBA, etc.). I'll put myself through the pain if it really will matter, but I just don't see the value of putting myself through the process for something that gives the marginal return of tiny shot at law review or a secondary journal. I get the whole "you miss 100% of the shots you don't take" stuff about law review, but everything I've found here makes it seem like a secondary journal is only a resume stuffer that I don't feel like I'll need.

Appreciate the thoughts!

AZ123

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Re: Secondary Journal - Can I blow it off?

Postby AZ123 » Sat Feb 25, 2017 12:22 pm

I wouldn't, if I were you. Even though you're in a good situation and would probably be just fine without a secondary journal, why not do the tryout just to be safe? There are some employers out there who see the journal as a box to check, so why risk it? Journals really aren't that much work anyways (as long as you pick the right one). It's one crappy week/weekend for the tryout, and then a random cite check here or there the rest of the way. The work is pointless and annoying, but I think it's worth it just to be safe, IMO.

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Re: Secondary Journal - Can I blow it off?

Postby acr » Sat Feb 25, 2017 12:27 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Making the decision of whether to go for a secondary journal. There is a chance to write on to Law Review, but I don't see it as even remotely likely. Is it worth the effort of enduring journal tryouts to put a secondary journal on my resume?

Background: 1L at T14, median, 6-10 years of professional work experience on resume, targeting secondary market Biglaw and have a 1L SA in a secondary market lined up for this summer. Will also have other law school involvement on resume (think affinity group, admissions involvement, SBA, etc.). I'll put myself through the pain if it really will matter, but I just don't see the value of putting myself through the process for something that gives the marginal return of tiny shot at law review or a secondary journal. I get the whole "you miss 100% of the shots you don't take" stuff about law review, but everything I've found here makes it seem like a secondary journal is only a resume stuffer that I don't feel like I'll need.

Appreciate the thoughts!


Secondary journal is one of those things that doesn't help to have, but hurts to not have. If you have an offer for 2L summer lined up (i.e. if your 1L summer firm extends you a return offer), then you don't need journal. But there's no way of knowing that before write-on. And would you be happy at your 1L summer firm long term? Assume that you have a great semester grade-wise and want to "trade up" for a better firm or a firm in a different (more desirable) location at 2L OCI. Having a secondary journal would probably be beneficial for you. As the previous poster mentioned, it's probably a safe bet to just suck it up and do it.

My solution: half-ass write on, then half-ass journal. Journal sucks, but just be OK with putting the most minimal amount of effort possible into it. Once you lock up your 2L summer employment then consider dropping it if you hate it.

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Re: Secondary Journal - Can I blow it off?

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Feb 25, 2017 12:42 pm

OP here, and thanks for the insights. They're largely the same stuff I've heard from 2L/3Ls from my school, and I only wonder if it's a bit of confirmation bias that law students need a journal as a check in the box for hiring because people who get hired have journals on their resume. Kind of a chicken or the egg kind of thing.

I think you're right that I should just put myself through it just to get rid of any potential weaknesses on my resume, but it still really, really sucks that so much effort is put into what might amount to a silent check in the box at some firms.

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Re: Secondary Journal - Can I blow it off?

Postby AZ123 » Sat Feb 25, 2017 12:47 pm

It's quite possible that it's totally unnecessary and just confirmation bias or whatever, but since I only had one shot at getting a 2l SA, I decided not to risk it. I did have several employers ask about it during interviews though, FWIW. Not sure if they actually cared or if they were just running out of things to talk about haha.

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Re: Secondary Journal - Can I blow it off?

Postby White Dwarf » Sat Feb 25, 2017 3:39 pm

3 people on my secondary journal quit in the first couple weeks of the semester after getting an offer from a firm. Not going to endear you to the journal board, but it's an option.
Last edited by White Dwarf on Sat Feb 25, 2017 3:40 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Secondary Journal - Can I blow it off?

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Sat Feb 25, 2017 3:39 pm

acr wrote:Once you lock up your 2L summer employment then consider dropping it if you hate it.

Unless your journal doesn't require a 2 year commitment and you mean quit after 2L is over, please don't do this. It's really obnoxious to the people who are running the secondary, as well as the people who might have wanted to get on it in the first place. Either don't bother doing one or suck it up and get through it, but don't try to have your cake and eat it too. (Some journals will actually notify your employer if you do this, though I don't know how much an employer will care.)

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Re: Secondary Journal - Can I blow it off?

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Feb 25, 2017 3:46 pm

Not op. I'm on a secondary journal at my T14 and it is an absolute breeze. For the entire year (we are all done now with editing), I spent a total of probably 4 hours on it. We had 1 article, I was assigned 9 pages, I read those pages, put in my comments, then a few months later did comma/punctuation editing, which took like an hour.

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Re: Secondary Journal - Can I blow it off?

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Feb 25, 2017 3:49 pm

A. Nony Mouse wrote:
acr wrote:Once you lock up your 2L summer employment then consider dropping it if you hate it.

Unless your journal doesn't require a 2 year commitment and you mean quit after 2L is over, please don't do this. It's really obnoxious to the people who are running the secondary, as well as the people who might have wanted to get on it in the first place. Either don't bother doing one or suck it up and get through it, but don't try to have your cake and eat it too. (Some journals will actually notify your employer if you do this, though I don't know how much an employer will care.)


OP here, I agree and I would never drop after I've committed to doing it. The time commitment isn't that insane from what I understand. I guess I'm just internally pushing against the notion that being on a secondary journal will bar/help in my ultimate employment. Like, if a firm dings me because I'm not on a journal, I'm hesitant to think I want to even work at a firm that values it that way. Especially considering how often people have treated these journals here as, "lol, no one cares about your secondary journal cred."

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Re: Secondary Journal - Can I blow it off?

Postby Loquitur Res » Sat Feb 25, 2017 3:59 pm

White Dwarf wrote:3 people on my secondary journal quit in the first couple weeks of the semester after getting an offer from a firm. Not going to endear you to the journal board, but it's an option.


Careful about trying this, depending on your school's policies. If you have LR or journal on you resume during OCI, then quit before the end of the year (or before completing all editing and a student note), my school requires you to notify the employer that you were not actually on LR/journal.

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Re: Secondary Journal - Can I blow it off?

Postby Monochromatic Oeuvre » Sat Feb 25, 2017 6:54 pm

TCR is to be on one but put almost zero effort into it.

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Re: Secondary Journal - Can I blow it off?

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Feb 25, 2017 9:30 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
A. Nony Mouse wrote:
acr wrote:Once you lock up your 2L summer employment then consider dropping it if you hate it.

Unless your journal doesn't require a 2 year commitment and you mean quit after 2L is over, please don't do this. It's really obnoxious to the people who are running the secondary, as well as the people who might have wanted to get on it in the first place. Either don't bother doing one or suck it up and get through it, but don't try to have your cake and eat it too. (Some journals will actually notify your employer if you do this, though I don't know how much an employer will care.)


OP here, I agree and I would never drop after I've committed to doing it. The time commitment isn't that insane from what I understand. I guess I'm just internally pushing against the notion that being on a secondary journal will bar/help in my ultimate employment. Like, if a firm dings me because I'm not on a journal, I'm hesitant to think I want to even work at a firm that values it that way. Especially considering how often people have treated these journals here as, "lol, no one cares about your secondary journal cred."


This is stupid. Secondary journal is just a minor signal that you're a diligent hardworking law student. It isn't going to help you, but if you're one of the only folks at OCI without a journal on your resume, you look bad in comparison. Put it this way: if you have two median candidates with similar resumes and one callback to give our, you'll probably give it to the one who has secondary journal. That's not a bad reflection on the firm, they just need something to differentiate between candidates.

Ask around, find the journal that requires he least amount of work, do that. That is the only correct response here.

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Re: Secondary Journal - Can I blow it off?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Feb 27, 2017 10:56 am

Anonymous User wrote:
A. Nony Mouse wrote:
acr wrote:Once you lock up your 2L summer employment then consider dropping it if you hate it.

Unless your journal doesn't require a 2 year commitment and you mean quit after 2L is over, please don't do this. It's really obnoxious to the people who are running the secondary, as well as the people who might have wanted to get on it in the first place. Either don't bother doing one or suck it up and get through it, but don't try to have your cake and eat it too. (Some journals will actually notify your employer if you do this, though I don't know how much an employer will care.)


OP here, I agree and I would never drop after I've committed to doing it. The time commitment isn't that insane from what I understand. I guess I'm just internally pushing against the notion that being on a secondary journal will bar/help in my ultimate employment. Like, if a firm dings me because I'm not on a journal, I'm hesitant to think I want to even work at a firm that values it that way. Especially considering how often people have treated these journals here as, "lol, no one cares about your secondary journal cred."


I'm a senior associate at a V20, been an interviewer in a major market for years, and I can definitively say that there have been candidates to whom we haven't given callbacks/offers because they lacked a secondary journal. It's not an absolute dealbreaker by any means, but I remember many times over the years that we've said, "she was great, but why didn't she do a secondary journal?" and dinged someone. (FWIW, I think that's essentially a rhetorical question -- I've never asked in an interview why someone didn't do a journal because I don't know what, if anything, would persuade me as a good answer for why not.)

I see where you're coming from about you don't want to "work at a firm that values it that way," but I think that's a mistaken view. It's not a reflection on firm "values" that we like to see a secondary journal, and it doesn't speak to the way that work will be once you get here, it's just an easy heuristic for helping us make a decision. Candidate A chose a little extra work that signals diligence and (theoretically) gets him working on legal research and writing more; Candidate B chose more free time in his life. That's the way it can come across, at least, so it's no surprise who gets the tiebreak.

ETA: I'm generally talking about litigation. If you're corporate-focused and there's at least something on your resume that seems like a quasi-substitute for a journal (like a corporate extracurricular or I know that some schools have corporate-oriented clinics and other projects), I think that would eliminate the risk of not doing a journal.
Last edited by Anonymous User on Mon Feb 27, 2017 11:42 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Secondary Journal - Can I blow it off?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Feb 27, 2017 11:20 am

Was also median at a t14 and blew off write-on to go on a nice overseas vacation. Ended up just fine, with multiple offers in major and secondary markets. I also had plenty of other interesting things to talk about during interviews -- prior work experience, competitive 1L summer job, competitive fedgov externship for 2L fall -- which it sounds like you more or less have as well. Will caveat by saying I wanted nothing to do with litigation or clerking, and sold myself as a corporate guy/gal at OCI and callbacks. No one I interviewed with gave a shit about lack of journal.

If you're leaning corporate, don't want to clerk, and are confident in your interviewing skills, I say skip it. For me, the last thing I wanted to do after second semester of 1L was spend a week doing something I absolutely despised, in order to qualify to do the same thing for the next two years. Fully aware that there will be plenty of work I despise in biglaw, but you're probably never going to get free time like you have in law school until you retire, so why not take advantage of it? The tradeoff is an ever-so-slight increase in risk of not getting a job, provided you qualify with what I said in the first sentence of this paragraph.

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Re: Secondary Journal - Can I blow it off?

Postby Phil Brooks » Mon Feb 27, 2017 12:26 pm

Think beyond the next two years. If you go into litigation a very easy way to rack up billables is to develop a reputation as a good cite-checker, and you develop those skills by working on a journal.

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Re: Secondary Journal - Can I blow it off?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Feb 27, 2017 12:42 pm

OP again. Thanks for everyone's input, it really helped. I think I've been convinced to just go through with it to avoid having that weakness on my resume. It sucks, but it sounds like it's worth it. And I'm certainly not willing to chance it being the thing that bars me from the job I want. Time to suck it up and get my Bluebook at the ready.



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