Alright all of you upperclassmen... I just noticed that with other schools approaching finals, they're starting to have journal tryouts soon as well. I have absolutely no interest in a journal, but I figure that it would be dumb not to try out just because there might be some random arbitrary benefit in the future (especially in the case of LR).
How does the timing for this shit usually work? What if we are starting our summer jobs the Monday after finals end? How much of a time-sink are the tryouts, and what even is a "write-on"? (I read this
, but what is the format of the "Topic Analysis"? It seems like a closed-memo format... is that right?) Would law firms really care if someone is not involved in a moot court / journal / other random thing for 2L and 3L years?
Also, on a scale of 1 to lots, how much does it actually suck to be on a journal?
Instead of trying to figure all of this out during a really crappy time of the semester when they have the info session (in May), I figured it'd be better to ask about it now. After all, as many of you know, I like to plan ahead
LR member here.
You should really start by figuring out if, and why, you want to be on a journal. Is it for the resume? Do you want to clerk? Answering those kinds of questions will help. For some, LR is the only journal worth doing. For others, no journal is worth it. It all depends on you.
The timing may change depending on what the LR decides to do this year. Last year, they emailed the writing competition packet on the last day of finals, I believe at 4pm. You had two weeks to complete two tasks - writing a topic analysis based on a closed-group of cases and articles (couple hundred pages, max) and doing a citecheck, where you looked for Maroonbook errors. The competition takes a significant amount of time, and in my experience, the more time spent, the better (especially on the citecheck side, which counted 50% for the LR, though much less for other journals). A lot of people do not start their summer job until the next week, and devote that first week to the competition. Students that have to start working immediately are at a significant disadvantage, though it can be done.
Remember that this can all change. There is always the chance the competition goes to a week or is done on the weekends. Also, worth noting that it is 2/3rds grade on. If you get on that way, all you need is a "good faith" effort.
As for if law firms care...it depends. If you have 180+ grades, and are not on LR, I'm sure you would get asked about it. Otherwise, I think journals are a small bump, with LR being a much larger bump by virtue that it signals very good grades (unless you write-on with mediocre grades). At some firms LR is likely mandatory (Munger, W&C), and at others, preferred. For the most part, you can not be in a journal and do absolutely fine at OCI.
I laughed at the "how much does it suck" comment. I think it is very personal. You are primarily doing citechecks and writing your Comment - and if those things appeal to you, then it's fine. If not, it can be really tough. The hardest part is time management. The common saying is "1L they scare you to death, 2L they work you to death, 3L they bore you to death." That can be true when on a journal, especially LR - since it publishes 4 times a year (as opposed to 1 for Legal Forum, and 2 for CJIL) you are doing more work, often during finals. There have been multiple times when I had to tell professors not to call on me because I was in the middle of a citecheck and was unable to properly prepare for class. They are totally cool about it, but it goes to show how much work it can be. Overall, I'm glad I did it and would do it again. But it is certainly not for everyone.
If you have more questions, feel free to PM/fire away here.