Law Review AND Law review contests

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wLaw_candidate
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Law Review AND Law review contests

Postby wLaw_candidate » Thu Dec 27, 2012 10:06 pm

Hi All:

Does anyone know any good resources to learn how to write on for law review, or even for law school writing contests?



My info: 1L(first semester completed), night time student, working(part-time: regular job with reduced hours).

I am curious does anyone know any books, websites, anything that can give me the guidelines for writing a good law review article?
Currently looking at previous 1st -3rd place student winners.
I'm kind of lost as I have been out of undergraduate for a while.

I saw previous posts but they didn't give me the information I needed, and I didn't feel like hi-jacking someone else's thread.

Thanks in advance:

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Gamecubesupreme
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Re: Law Review AND Law review contests

Postby Gamecubesupreme » Thu Dec 27, 2012 10:10 pm


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Nova
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Re: Law Review AND Law review contests

Postby Nova » Thu Dec 27, 2012 10:19 pm

Gamecubesupreme wrote:http://www.amazon.com/Academic-Legal-Writing-Articles-Student/dp/1599417502

Only thing you'll ever need.


Legit. Thanks

wLaw_candidate
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Re: Law Review AND Law review contests

Postby wLaw_candidate » Thu Dec 27, 2012 11:42 pm

Gamecubesupreme wrote:http://www.amazon.com/Academic-Legal-Writing-Articles-Student/dp/1599417502

Only thing you'll ever need.


^Thanks, I will look into it.

Now that I have the attention of at least two people. Has anyone ever used this book before ? http://www.amazon.com/Typography-Lawyer ... 1598390775

I want to buy it because I like typography, but I also want to know if it's actually useful. To state it better, does anyone recommend it for law school or for legal practice outside of school. The last option intrigues me because I read that in certain jurisdictions briefs are dictated by a certain font and style and there isn't much you can change for it.


@Everyone else: Feel free to chime in on the original question.

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A. Nony Mouse
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Re: Law Review AND Law review contests

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Fri Dec 28, 2012 12:38 am

I have heard really good things about the typography book, so I'm sure it's useful. There are an awful lot of situations when you pretty much have to follow a template, but as a clerk, I can tell you that if documents look like crap, the reader is more inclined to assume they're crap. And anything that makes it easier for your reader to follow your point, quickly, will help you.

As for LR stuff, I agree - Volokh is it.

Also, coming from a LR with a write-on process, seriously, a lot of what a write-on tests for is willingness to put in the work.

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Doorkeeper
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Re: Law Review AND Law review contests

Postby Doorkeeper » Fri Dec 28, 2012 12:44 am

My school's write-on competition has a significant note section. Could anyone with experience elaborate on this? Obviously each school will be different, but general insights would be much appreciated!

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A. Nony Mouse
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Re: Law Review AND Law review contests

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Fri Dec 28, 2012 1:31 am

What do you mean by significant note section? Do you mean citations/technical editing? If so, the main point is to see if you'll be able to do cite-checks/technical edits reliably, without someone else basically having to redo them completely. The actual essay is usually weighted more heavily but there is a lot of value to having people on the LR who are meticulous about getting fine details correct even if they can't write a very interesting essay, so a really high score on this can help you.

That said, it's all based on my school (T1, so yours is probably better!) and its write-on scoring process, which tends to get debated/revisited each year anyway, so I'm sure it totally varies. But really, I think the point of having a write-on competition rather than going purely off grades is to look for as much evidence as you can that someone is actually going to put in the work and make your (the 3L's) life easier. Reliability, competence, thoroughness can take you further than raw brilliance (or at least, almost as far?). Again, IME, YMMV, etc.
Last edited by A. Nony Mouse on Fri Dec 28, 2012 1:33 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Nova
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Re: Law Review AND Law review contests

Postby Nova » Fri Dec 28, 2012 1:32 am

wLaw_candidate wrote:
Gamecubesupreme wrote:http://www.amazon.com/Academic-Legal-Writing-Articles-Student/dp/1599417502

Only thing you'll ever need.


^Thanks, I will look into it.

Now that I have the attention of at least two people. Has anyone ever used this book before ? http://www.amazon.com/Typography-Lawyer ... 1598390775


I know nothing about anything :mrgreen:

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Doorkeeper
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Re: Law Review AND Law review contests

Postby Doorkeeper » Fri Dec 28, 2012 1:47 am

A. Nony Mouse wrote:What do you mean by significant note section? Do you mean citations/technical editing? If so, the main point is to see if you'll be able to do cite-checks/technical edits reliably, without someone else basically having to redo them completely. The actual essay is usually weighted more heavily but there is a lot of value to having people on the LR who are meticulous about getting fine details correct even if they can't write a very interesting essay, so a really high score on this can help you.

That said, it's all based on my school (T1, so yours is probably better!) and its write-on scoring process, which tends to get debated/revisited each year anyway, so I'm sure it totally varies. But really, I think the point of having a write-on competition rather than going purely off grades is to look for as much evidence as you can that someone is actually going to put in the work and make your (the 3L's) life easier. Reliability, competence, thoroughness can take you further than raw brilliance (or at least, almost as far?). Again, IME, YMMV, etc.

No, I mean that you're supposed to write a note about recent CoA/SC case.

I guess that's the "actual essay" that you're referring to?

Thanks for all of your input so far!

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A. Nony Mouse
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Re: Law Review AND Law review contests

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Fri Dec 28, 2012 2:38 am

Ah, sorry, I misunderstood!

Different schools take totally different approaches to the note/essay. I think most have a closed universe of materials you can consult, but I can't guarantee that all do. From my experience grading these things, you get a smallish percentage of people (15-20%?) who write technically sound, well-cited and well-organized notes with a clear, well-supported, and interesting/creative thesis, a smallish percentage of people who turn in a hot mess (15-20%?), and then a big mishmash in the middle that pretty much all say the same thing. (This may depend on the subject/case you're writing about - the one we used lent itself to a few very generic arguments - but if everyone's addressing the same case, people will likely all end up writing the same things.)

On the one hand, having a really creative/interesting/unique thesis can be a good way to stand out from the pack. On the other, I tend to think that really creative ideas/analysis can't make up for deficiencies in the basic writing (organization/support for thesis, primarily), but that you can get away with not being quite as creative/interesting if everything else is impeccable (but it really has to be impeccable). However, some schools/graders might weight creativity/insight more heavily than I tend to. Again, for any given year you probably want both people who can offer great legal insights and people who can offer great technical skills, so sometimes it will depend on the batch of essays in that particular pool.

(I mean, obviously legal brilliance + technical skills combined is ideal, but it's surprising how rare this is even among very smart people. Although the ability to take a law school exam is quite different from the ability to write legal scholarship, which most people don't come to law school knowing how to do, so maybe it's not that surprising.)

It sounds really dumb to say, have a specific thesis, be able to support it with very specific material from the resources you're given, and organize the material in a manner that best supports your thesis, because that's what all good writing should do, but that's really all you need to do. One thing people seemed very bad at was arguing the other side of their thesis (even though you always have to do this in exams!), so I would make sure to address opposing arguments (there are always opposing arguments). Also, given that there is usually some kind of word/page limit, I think it's better to address one argument in quite a bit of depth than try to say a little bit about everything - the more focused and specific your argument, the more interesting and original it's likely to be. So (this is a bad example made up off the top of my head) if the case was Heller, you wouldn't want to survey the whole case and everything that does/doesn't work in it, but maybe write something more focused about the use of historical dictionaries as a source and why that does/doesn't work.

TL;DR - read Volokh. Also, my school gave only the teeniest tiniest boost for grades - you couldn't grade on - so again, YMMV.

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ndirish2010
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Re: Law Review AND Law review contests

Postby ndirish2010 » Fri Dec 28, 2012 7:16 am

I graded competition notes for our law review. Most everyone was pretty close to the median, and wrote about the same thing. It was a closed-universe assignment, and the way people actually distinguished themselves was by solid bluebooking and actually making an argument rather than simply writing a descriptive essay.

Gorki
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Re: Law Review AND Law review contests

Postby Gorki » Fri Dec 28, 2012 7:32 am

ndirish2010 wrote:I graded competition notes for our law review. Most everyone was pretty close to the median, and wrote about the same thing. It was a closed-universe assignment, and the way people actually distinguished themselves was by solid bluebooking and actually making an argument rather than simply writing a descriptive essay.


This. People who make it on spend a lot of time BBing and on the BB quiz. Usually less than 10% of the submissions are worth the paper they are written on beyond showing the writer's ability to BB. Thus, do not waste time writing some fancy legal mumbo jumbo when it means sacrificing great citations and sentence structure.

PS: LR is a flame, but depending on your school it is a flame that provides a good way to get otherwise unattainable interviews.

fluffybunny
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Re: Law Review AND Law review contests

Postby fluffybunny » Fri Dec 28, 2012 1:20 pm

From grading our write-on submissions:

About 10% were truly terrible. This is avoidable. Don't swear in the text, actually try to Bluebook, include some footnotes, and follow the directions.

About 10% were better than the others. For me, this means:
(1) Bluebooking is relatively clean (that is, the writer didn't make any mistakes that I could recognize without looking it up);
(2) there weren't typos and the writing wasn't terribly awkward;
(3) the background section was lean and only included information that the writer actually used in his/her analysis; and
(4) the essay made a legal argument rather than just writing 10 pages about how they feel about the main case.

The rest were a mish-mash in the middle.
Gamecubesupreme wrote:http://www.amazon.com/Academic-Legal-Writing-Articles-Student/dp/1599417502

Only thing you'll ever need.
^I found this useful.
A. Nony Mouse wrote:On the one hand, having a really creative/interesting/unique thesis can be a good way to stand out from the pack.
^Creativity is fine, but make sure it's a legal thesis. I definitely don't want to be able to hear your BA in linguistics or critical race theory or political science or whatever. That's at least true for our LR; I think more creative/interdisciplinary approaches might be appreciated by some of our secondary journals or by LRs at other schools. To be clear, I like interdisciplinary scholarship, this just isn't the time for it (at least at this school).

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A. Nony Mouse
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Re: Law Review AND Law review contests

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Fri Dec 28, 2012 1:47 pm

fluffybunny wrote:
A. Nony Mouse wrote:On the one hand, having a really creative/interesting/unique thesis can be a good way to stand out from the pack.
^Creativity is fine, but make sure it's a legal thesis. I definitely don't want to be able to hear your BA in linguistics or critical race theory or political science or whatever. That's at least true for our LR; I think more creative/interdisciplinary approaches might be appreciated by some of our secondary journals or by LRs at other schools. To be clear, I like interdisciplinary scholarship, this just isn't the time for it (at least at this school).

Oh, hells yes. I definitely meant legally interesting, not interesting interesting. I think what I really meant was what ndirish said: make a legal argument, don't write a descriptive essay. Given how many descriptive essays we got, an actual legal argument was de facto interesting/creative.

lawyerdown27
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Re: Law Review AND Law review contests

Postby lawyerdown27 » Fri Dec 28, 2012 2:01 pm

Everyone here has pretty much hit the nail on the head. One suggestion I would make would be to try to include some longer footnotes with explanatory material. Basically next to no one in our competition gave longer footnotes a try (every footnote was basically a one source cite only, maybe a parenthetical behind it), and just doing a handful of them well can really help you stand out because those long, complicated footnotes are everywhere in (1) the articles LR'ers edit and (2) the notes LR'ers have to write.

LS-boundNYC
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Re: Law Review AND Law review contests

Postby LS-boundNYC » Fri Dec 28, 2012 2:05 pm

I skimmed the Volokh book a bit before the writing competition last year. It looked helpful but it was far too extensive for my taste - mainly, there were far too many sections I knew I didn't need and I didn't have the time to go poking around for the most useful information. I did read this book and found it pretty helpful for structuring my thinking going into the competition: http://www.amazon.com/Making-Law-Review ... 1594605203

Just give yourself time to absorb it before the competition. I didn't and once it started, the rules forbade using it.

Other tips/tricks I heard: Vary your citation style (e.g. throw in some see alsos so it's not just sees. Maybe a cf or a compare, too). Throw extra material into your endnotes (this was a lifesaver when I couldn't figure out how to cut down on space without sacrificing nuances in the argument).

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Doorkeeper
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Re: Law Review AND Law review contests

Postby Doorkeeper » Fri Dec 28, 2012 2:44 pm

How much are substantive edits looked at in relation to the grammar/style edits? I'm pretty technical and solid in my Bluebooking skillz, but I doubt that will be the area that separates me from the pack (Although from how people ITT are describing it, perhaps it will create separation). This being said, I'm curious to the extent that substantive edits can make a difference (if they were allowed on your school's competition)?

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A. Nony Mouse
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Re: Law Review AND Law review contests

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Fri Dec 28, 2012 2:59 pm

My school's write-on didn't include substantive edits. But I think you can assume they won't expect you to know very much about the topic (if it's typical of the specialized, highly-detailed/focused articles you tend to get in a LR), and so the editing stuff would be more for grammar/style than substance. That is, apart from typos/grammar errors, you could be expected to edit to remove redundancies, improve transitions, maybe restructure something for greater clarity, but I'd be surprised if you were expected really to edit for content (except perhaps to note where cites are needed, or possibly if an argument just doesn't make logical sense).

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Doorkeeper
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Re: Law Review AND Law review contests

Postby Doorkeeper » Fri Dec 28, 2012 3:54 pm

A. Nony Mouse wrote:My school's write-on didn't include substantive edits. But I think you can assume they won't expect you to know very much about the topic (if it's typical of the specialized, highly-detailed/focused articles you tend to get in a LR), and so the editing stuff would be more for grammar/style than substance. That is, apart from typos/grammar errors, you could be expected to edit to remove redundancies, improve transitions, maybe restructure something for greater clarity, but I'd be surprised if you were expected really to edit for content (except perhaps to note where cites are needed, or possibly if an argument just doesn't make logical sense).

I see. I ask because I have a lot of journal editing experience, so my thought is that if I can't separate myself in the Bluebooking, then maybe I could do so in the substantive edits, but I guess that's kind of up to what piece they give out.

Thanks for all the advice.

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A. Nony Mouse
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Re: Law Review AND Law review contests

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Fri Dec 28, 2012 5:21 pm

Doorkeeper wrote:
A. Nony Mouse wrote:My school's write-on didn't include substantive edits. But I think you can assume they won't expect you to know very much about the topic (if it's typical of the specialized, highly-detailed/focused articles you tend to get in a LR), and so the editing stuff would be more for grammar/style than substance. That is, apart from typos/grammar errors, you could be expected to edit to remove redundancies, improve transitions, maybe restructure something for greater clarity, but I'd be surprised if you were expected really to edit for content (except perhaps to note where cites are needed, or possibly if an argument just doesn't make logical sense).

I see. I ask because I have a lot of journal editing experience, so my thought is that if I can't separate myself in the Bluebooking, then maybe I could do so in the substantive edits, but I guess that's kind of up to what piece they give out.

Thanks for all the advice.

No, if you have a lot of journal editing experience, I think it's pretty safe to say that you can separate yourself in substantive edits. :) I think familiarity with the conventions of scholarly writing - from more than just reading scholarly writing - can make a huge difference. (This conversation is sort of difficult because it's not always clear what people consider style/substance, so sorry if I've been confusing. It does probably depend on what kind of piece they give out, too, and how much of it - editing a few pages would probably lead to an emphasis on slightly different things than editing an entire article.)

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Re: Law Review AND Law review contests

Postby SilverE2 » Sat Dec 29, 2012 3:58 am

LS-boundNYC wrote:I skimmed the Volokh book a bit before the writing competition last year. It looked helpful but it was far too extensive for my taste - mainly, there were far too many sections I knew I didn't need and I didn't have the time to go poking around for the most useful information. I did read this book and found it pretty helpful for structuring my thinking going into the competition: http://www.amazon.com/Making-Law-Review ... 1594605203

Just give yourself time to absorb it before the competition. I didn't and once it started, the rules forbade using it.

Other tips/tricks I heard: Vary your citation style (e.g. throw in some see alsos so it's not just sees. Maybe a cf or a compare, too). Throw extra material into your endnotes (this was a lifesaver when I couldn't figure out how to cut down on space without sacrificing nuances in the argument).


I read this book too and wrote onto law review, for what it's worth. It's a short read, you can get through it in two or three sittings.

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jessuf
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Re: Law Review AND Law review contests

Postby jessuf » Sat Dec 29, 2012 5:37 pm

I recommend buying the red book or UT Law Review Manual on Usage and Style.

My school did blue book test + closed universe note. The blue booking, use of footnotes, and grammar/style were the most important factors for doing well. 99% of law review is editing, so that should be your top priority.

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Nova
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Re: Law Review AND Law review contests

Postby Nova » Mon Dec 31, 2012 4:40 am

Gamecubesupreme wrote:http://www.amazon.com/Academic-Legal-Writing-Articles-Student/dp/1599417502

Only thing you'll ever need.


Just wanted to point out, to anyone else who may buy this soon,

new edition, 40 dolla

old edition, 5 dolla

Gorki
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Re: Law Review AND Law review contests

Postby Gorki » Tue Jan 01, 2013 10:34 am

I assume by substantive edits you mean WHILE on law review, and not the writing contest?

I think 99% of 2Ls on my journal stopped doing substantive edits when we realized no matter how win or fail they were, they were all rejected every single time. It basically has to be some incredibly super common error made by an author that the 3L editor be comfortable bringing up to the author. I will make a change if its an incredibly obvious historical or factual discrepancy, but nothing more. It sorta sucked though. LR is way less thinking-intensive than one would think. Beyond writing your own note, you are a BB robot.

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Bildungsroman
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Re: Law Review AND Law review contests

Postby Bildungsroman » Tue Jan 01, 2013 10:57 am

Doorkeeper wrote:
A. Nony Mouse wrote:My school's write-on didn't include substantive edits. But I think you can assume they won't expect you to know very much about the topic (if it's typical of the specialized, highly-detailed/focused articles you tend to get in a LR), and so the editing stuff would be more for grammar/style than substance. That is, apart from typos/grammar errors, you could be expected to edit to remove redundancies, improve transitions, maybe restructure something for greater clarity, but I'd be surprised if you were expected really to edit for content (except perhaps to note where cites are needed, or possibly if an argument just doesn't make logical sense).

I see. I ask because I have a lot of journal editing experience, so my thought is that if I can't separate myself in the Bluebooking, then maybe I could do so in the substantive edits, but I guess that's kind of up to what piece they give out.

Thanks for all the advice.

What do you mean by substantive edits? The editing job of a LR staffer is about 100% Bluebooking (or Maroonbooking if your journal is preftigious) and checking spelling/grammar/Chicago Manual of Style. Nobody is looking for a 2L or 3L to make substantive edits (or even substantive recommendations) during the editing process. This may vary based on school and journal, but I'd be surprised if it varies by very much.




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