Writing onto Law Review

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BruceWayne
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Writing onto Law Review

Postby BruceWayne » Mon Jan 10, 2011 3:23 pm

For those of you who've pulled off this amazing feat (borderline impossible at my school) can you give any advice about doing well in write on competitions including bluebooking?

stayway
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Re: Writing onto Law Review

Postby stayway » Mon Jan 10, 2011 3:25 pm

+1

Interested as well. (just in case)

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Big Shrimpin
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Re: Writing onto Law Review

Postby Big Shrimpin » Mon Jan 10, 2011 4:23 pm

I think it's going to depend on your school's competition format. For instance, competitions are often either an "abbreviated case note" (e.g. like a 28-page document with footnotes...no separate bluebooking but that ends up being a huge part of your grade in the grading criteria for the note) or a hybrid of writing/bluebooking (e.g. like a 5-page in-text-citation "abbreviated case note" format with a separate bluebooking test). I've done both, so these are my insights:

On Format, Generally:
The longer one: I prefer this to the hybrid test any day. It gives you more "elbow room" to cultivate your position on an issue by laying down a tight-knit analytical framework.
The shorter one: The bluebooking was easy. Getting my analysis to fit into 5 pages was not.

Strategies:

Everyone works differently. I had the same preparatory approach to both competitions. I would begin by organizing the materials by separating cases, LR articles, etc... First, do an initial cursory reading of the news articles/LR articles for background/context and to fill yourself in on the issues, generally. Second, read the cases (oldest first) to develop a sense for how the law has evolved over time and/or contemporaneously in different districts/circuits, etc... I took lots of notes on onenote at this point, as well as margins on the cases. After reading the cases, I went back and read the LR articles very closely to see if my view of the law comported with the articles, to categorize the positions and "camps" on each issue, and develop my ultimate opinion on the issue. At that point, I took lots of notes as well.

With a body of notes for each authority, I would look at the "noted" case again (forgot to say, I had read that in the first round of case reading...the "noted" case is the case upon which you'll be writing your note) and mark the printed copy up to show where the court used certain rules/precedents, how the court applied those rules, whether those conclusions followed, whether the court left anything out, and whether the court added anything new.

After a LOT of reading and digesting material (I always took about half the competition time to do so...didn't write until halftime), I would begin to write. Start with the facts, then the analysis sections. At that point, writing is so easy because you've done so much prep.

After writing, edit. Edit again. Edit again. Edit again...then edit again. There should be no grammatical, citation, or formatting errors.

Other tips:

1. Create a clear heading system - and "theme" it if possible. This makes it easier for the reader to follow your argument. Moreover, if you've got a cool title with headings that follow your title's "theme," the reader might especially remember your note (caution: don't be cheesy).
2. Footnotes are your friend - I love footnoting. It shows the reader that not only did you recognize the pertinent rules/procedures at issue, but that you've also recognized and analyzed the lay of the land w/r/t that point of law (e.g. you state a rule or holding, then in the footnote discuss how/why that holding was important, other court's views if not important enough to put in the main text, evolution of the law, scholars' positions on that holding, ad infinitum).
3. Edit many times.
4. Don't sit down and work for too long. Take breaks. Go for a run. Eat. Don't spend time on TLS.


The short paper/bluebooking test:

I sort of hated this one. It was the same amount of reading (like 500 pages) as the other one, yet for a TINY bit of paper space to flex your knowledge. I don't know why this competition was structured as such, but it was quite frustrating. I still prepped as before, but the writing was much more concise. Brevity was key.

In the end, I wrote on to the longer competition (my 1L school), but not the second (my transfer school). I think the longer note was much more difficult to write, but it was also a more enjoyable experience (especially in the end). The shorter one was easier to write, but it was a huge mindfck. Moreover, with so many transfers competing for like 2 spots on LR, I pretty much knew it would be a low probability venture.

Final thoughts:

This is pure speculation, but I feel like the entire grading process for these things is pretty subjective. I mean, surely they have grading sheets and the grammer/bluebooking stuff is objective. Substantively, however, I feel like it's possible one might write a note that weaves a waterproof analysis, but the reader either disagrees on policy points or read the cases differently. In either case, the reader might ding the writer on strength of analysis when, in fact, the analysis was quite good.

Fro me, the key in the competition was how badly I wanted to be on LR. I know SO MANY other people that gave up during the competition. I'm sure that's fairly common. Bottom line - put the time in and be vigilant about reading, taking notes, writing, and editing. Landing a spot as a write-on LR is tough, but it pays dividends at OCI (especially if your school is a grade-on LR...you'll have shown that you can out-write the "other 90%" of the students...notwithstanding the subjectivity in the whole process lol).

GL!

Geist13
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Joined: Sat Oct 10, 2009 3:21 pm

Re: Writing onto Law Review

Postby Geist13 » Mon Jan 10, 2011 4:40 pm

I've read good things about these two books. has anyone read them/recommend them?

http://www.amazon.com/Making-Law-Review ... 872&sr=8-1

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/159941 ... d_i=507846

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patrickd139
Posts: 2883
Joined: Wed Jan 14, 2009 8:53 pm

Re: Writing onto Law Review

Postby patrickd139 » Mon Jan 10, 2011 4:44 pm

Didn't write on to LR (graded on by the skin of my teeth), but I did read the book below and it is helping me immeasurably now that I'm writing my publication submission.

http://www.amazon.com/Scholarly-Writing ... 0314249095

Good luck to all who are (admittedly prematurely) thinking about writing on!

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mikeytwoshoes
Posts: 1117
Joined: Thu Jun 26, 2008 11:45 pm

Re: Writing onto Law Review

Postby mikeytwoshoes » Mon Jan 10, 2011 4:47 pm

Geist13 wrote:I've read good things about these two books. has anyone read them/recommend them?

http://www.amazon.com/Making-Law-Review ... 872&sr=8-1

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/159941 ... d_i=507846

Volokh=win
Other guy=meh

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BruceWayne
Posts: 2032
Joined: Sat Aug 14, 2010 9:36 pm

Re: Writing onto Law Review

Postby BruceWayne » Mon Jan 10, 2011 4:55 pm

Big Shrimpin wrote:I think it's going to depend on your school's competition format. For instance, competitions are often either an "abbreviated case note" (e.g. like a 28-page document with footnotes...no separate bluebooking but that ends up being a huge part of your grade in the grading criteria for the note) or a hybrid of writing/bluebooking (e.g. like a 5-page in-text-citation "abbreviated case note" format with a separate bluebooking test). I've done both, so these are my insights:

On Format, Generally:
The longer one: I prefer this to the hybrid test any day. It gives you more "elbow room" to cultivate your position on an issue by laying down a tight-knit analytical framework.
The shorter one: The bluebooking was easy. Getting my analysis to fit into 5 pages was not.

Strategies:

Everyone works differently. I had the same preparatory approach to both competitions. I would begin by organizing the materials by separating cases, LR articles, etc... First, do an initial cursory reading of the news articles/LR articles for background/context and to fill yourself in on the issues, generally. Second, read the cases (oldest first) to develop a sense for how the law has evolved over time and/or contemporaneously in different districts/circuits, etc... I took lots of notes on onenote at this point, as well as margins on the cases. After reading the cases, I went back and read the LR articles very closely to see if my view of the law comported with the articles, to categorize the positions and "camps" on each issue, and develop my ultimate opinion on the issue. At that point, I took lots of notes as well.

With a body of notes for each authority, I would look at the "noted" case again (forgot to say, I had read that in the first round of case reading...the "noted" case is the case upon which you'll be writing your note) and mark the printed copy up to show where the court used certain rules/precedents, how the court applied those rules, whether those conclusions followed, whether the court left anything out, and whether the court added anything new.

After a LOT of reading and digesting material (I always took about half the competition time to do so...didn't write until halftime), I would begin to write. Start with the facts, then the analysis sections. At that point, writing is so easy because you've done so much prep.

After writing, edit. Edit again. Edit again. Edit again...then edit again. There should be no grammatical, citation, or formatting errors.

Other tips:

1. Create a clear heading system - and "theme" it if possible. This makes it easier for the reader to follow your argument. Moreover, if you've got a cool title with headings that follow your title's "theme," the reader might especially remember your note (caution: don't be cheesy).
2. Footnotes are your friend - I love footnoting. It shows the reader that not only did you recognize the pertinent rules/procedures at issue, but that you've also recognized and analyzed the lay of the land w/r/t that point of law (e.g. you state a rule or holding, then in the footnote discuss how/why that holding was important, other court's views if not important enough to put in the main text, evolution of the law, scholars' positions on that holding, ad infinitum).
3. Edit many times.
4. Don't sit down and work for too long. Take breaks. Go for a run. Eat. Don't spend time on TLS.


The short paper/bluebooking test:

I sort of hated this one. It was the same amount of reading (like 500 pages) as the other one, yet for a TINY bit of paper space to flex your knowledge. I don't know why this competition was structured as such, but it was quite frustrating. I still prepped as before, but the writing was much more concise. Brevity was key.

In the end, I wrote on to the longer competition (my 1L school), but not the second (my transfer school). I think the longer note was much more difficult to write, but it was also a more enjoyable experience (especially in the end). The shorter one was easier to write, but it was a huge mindfck. Moreover, with so many transfers competing for like 2 spots on LR, I pretty much knew it would be a low probability venture.

Final thoughts:

This is pure speculation, but I feel like the entire grading process for these things is pretty subjective. I mean, surely they have grading sheets and the grammer/bluebooking stuff is objective. Substantively, however, I feel like it's possible one might write a note that weaves a waterproof analysis, but the reader either disagrees on policy points or read the cases differently. In either case, the reader might ding the writer on strength of analysis when, in fact, the analysis was quite good.

Fro me, the key in the competition was how badly I wanted to be on LR. I know SO MANY other people that gave up during the competition. I'm sure that's fairly common. Bottom line - put the time in and be vigilant about reading, taking notes, writing, and editing. Landing a spot as a write-on LR is tough, but it pays dividends at OCI (especially if your school is a grade-on LR...you'll have shown that you can out-write the "other 90%" of the students...notwithstanding the subjectivity in the whole process lol).

GL!


WOW this is incredible! Thank you! You should get this put up under the students section of the main portion of the website.

CanadianWolf
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Re: Writing onto Law Review

Postby CanadianWolf » Mon Jan 10, 2011 4:58 pm

A poster above wrote "Don't sit down & work for too long." This depends upon the person. Also, I'm not sure that I agree with the statement that "Footnotes are your friend." My philosophy is that footnotes sometimes are evidence of a poorly constructed writing, but not always.

P.S. At my law school, long ago, we were required to qualify based on both grades & a writing competition. Not sure if this is still the practice, however.

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Big Shrimpin
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Re: Writing onto Law Review

Postby Big Shrimpin » Mon Jan 10, 2011 9:44 pm

Glad to help, and good luck when the time comes.

MrAnon
Posts: 1615
Joined: Wed Aug 25, 2010 9:08 pm

Re: Writing onto Law Review

Postby MrAnon » Tue Jan 11, 2011 2:55 am

Tip #1 is that you have to be an excellent writer under time pressure. If you are in here asking how to write on to LR at this point then you are likely not that.

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Mickey Quicknumbers
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Re: Writing onto Law Review

Postby Mickey Quicknumbers » Tue Jan 11, 2011 5:35 am

MrAnon wrote:Tip #1 is that you have to be an excellent writer under time pressure. If you are in here asking how to write on to LR at this point then you are likely not that.

wut?

Geist13
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Joined: Sat Oct 10, 2009 3:21 pm

Re: Writing onto Law Review

Postby Geist13 » Tue Jan 11, 2011 10:45 am

delBarco wrote:
MrAnon wrote:Tip #1 is that you have to be an excellent writer under time pressure. If you are in here asking how to write on to LR at this point then you are likely not that.

wut?


Oh he's saying that if you're asking about writing on, you didn't do well on your exams (because every single school in the country without exception determines LR membership primarily by grades). Since its impossible to be a good writer under time pressure and not be in the top 15% of your class, anyone asking about writing on necessarily lacks the chops to do well on the write on.

makes sense, right?

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Big Shrimpin
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Joined: Fri Oct 24, 2008 12:35 pm

Re: Writing onto Law Review

Postby Big Shrimpin » Tue Jan 11, 2011 10:48 am

MrAnon wrote:Tip #1 is that you have to be an excellent writer under time pressure. If you are in here asking how to write on to LR at this point then you are likely not that.


cool story bro

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BruceWayne
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Joined: Sat Aug 14, 2010 9:36 pm

Re: Writing onto Law Review

Postby BruceWayne » Tue Jan 11, 2011 11:39 am

Geist13 wrote:
delBarco wrote:
MrAnon wrote:Tip #1 is that you have to be an excellent writer under time pressure. If you are in here asking how to write on to LR at this point then you are likely not that.

wut?


Oh he's saying that if you're asking about writing on, you didn't do well on your exams (because every single school in the country without exception determines LR membership primarily by grades). Since its impossible to be a good writer under time pressure and not be in the top 15% of your class, anyone asking about writing on necessarily lacks the chops to do well on the write on.

makes sense, right?


LMAO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

jkay
Posts: 399
Joined: Mon May 03, 2010 2:47 pm

Re: Writing onto Law Review

Postby jkay » Tue Jan 11, 2011 2:38 pm

Geist13 wrote:(because every single school in the country without exception determines LR membership primarily by grades).


I actually aTTTend a school where no one stricTTTly grades on, everyone has to wriTTTe a "noTTTe" and the grading rubric takes into account GPA, LRW, and the wriTTTing sample.

How ouTTT of the ordinary is TTThis?

Geist13
Posts: 739
Joined: Sat Oct 10, 2009 3:21 pm

Re: Writing onto Law Review

Postby Geist13 » Tue Jan 11, 2011 3:16 pm

jkay wrote:
Geist13 wrote:(because every single school in the country without exception determines LR membership primarily by grades).


I actually aTTTend a school where no one stricTTTly grades on, everyone has to wriTTTe a "noTTTe" and the grading rubric takes into account GPA, LRW, and the wriTTTing sample.

How ouTTT of the ordinary is TTThis?


you missed a number of ts.




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