Independent Publication vs. Being on Journal/Law Review

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Independent Publication vs. Being on Journal/Law Review

Postby HardcoreTroubadour » Fri Apr 09, 2010 4:10 pm

Hey all,

Just curious what all of you sages here at TLS thought about how much being on a journal helps your prospects for biglaw and federal clerkships. I'm a 1L in my second semester at a t-40 law school. After my first semester I would safely say I am in the top-10% of my class, but I am not sure since grades do not come out until the summer. Obviously, I aspire to someday work for biglaw and would like to clerk for a federal judge before that.

However, I was wondering how much being on a journal would help in achieving those goals? To be honest, being on a journal seems like a time-consuming and downright boring thing to do. Call me crazy but I can think of only a few things more excruciating than searching the stacks of some library for some obscure book in order to verify the citation of some legal scholar who should have the intellectual honesty and integrity to have cited correctly in the first place. I spoke to my career office about this, and while they said that journal experience would be helpful (but not necessary) for biglaw, it should most certainly be on my "To Do" list if I want a federal clerkship.

Over winter break I was able to submit 2 papers/articles to scholarly journals that were accepted for publication in their next issues. One article will be published in an American History journal (a hobby of mine). The other is a legal journal (where my paper focused on the development of the Takings Clause and Eminent Domain and argued for a new legal/policy approach to using eminent domain to spur economic development in lower-income areas). I'd like to try and publish at least one other work before my law school career is over.

Sorry for the long-winded post, but I thought it would be best to explain my situation. Anyway, any thoughts on how necessary/helpful being on a journal is for biglaw and federal clerkships? Or are independent publications enough? I'd like to think that such publications show I'm smart enough to write publication-worthy material without having to do the grunt work of being on a journal/law review.
Last edited by HardcoreTroubadour on Fri Apr 09, 2010 4:22 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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Re: Question re: Journals

Postby vanwinkle » Fri Apr 09, 2010 4:16 pm

Without being on Law Review, you have no chance of getting a COA clerkship. You might not have much of a chance from your school even with LR, but not having LR will pretty much mean it's not happening.

Journal may help for getting a federal district court clerkship, though it won't help nearly as much as LR would. LR is going to be strong preference there with any other journals a distant second.


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Re: Independent Publication vs. Journal/Law Review?

Postby Alyosha » Fri Apr 09, 2010 4:23 pm

For biglaw, you need the journal in my opinion. Firms want to know you are willing to do tedious, detailed work for long hours, and the journal shows them that. At a T40, with no journal I think it will be hard to get biglaw even with the publications and top 10%. Take a look at the associate bios at the firms you are interested, see how many newer associates were on a journal.

Having publications about topics you are interested in does not show a firm you are willing to work long hours on tedious projects, which will be a substantial portion of your job as an associate. Do the journal.

COA clerkship is probably out even with law review, unless you finish your 2nd year in top handful of students in the class, as vanwinkle pointed out.

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Re: Independent Publication vs. Being on Journal/Law Review

Postby TTT-LS » Fri Apr 09, 2010 5:00 pm

Last edited by TTT-LS on Sun Jul 11, 2010 4:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.


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Re: Independent Publication vs. Being on Journal/Law Review

Postby jhett » Fri Apr 09, 2010 6:31 pm

I generally agree with the above posters, especially if you want to clerk. What is clerking? Well, it involves looking up cases, double-checking citations, and generally doing the grunt work that ensures the judge's opinions are a polished piece of jurisprudence. Being on a journal gives you experience in that.

However, if you write a scholarly article that is in the field of law you want to practice then that is worth more than being a journal member (excluding clerkship considerations). For example, publishing an article about some IP issue will appeal much more to IP firms than simply being a journal member on an IP journal. It shows you have in-depth knowledge about that area of law.

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