(1) What is Law Review?
A law review is a scholarly, generally quarterly, student-run journal that publishes work by professors, judges, attorneys, and, fortunately for you, students. Some journals, such as the SMU Law Review, cover a wide-range of legal issues. Others, such as the International Law Journal and the Science and Technology Law Review, focus their interests on a particular area of law. SMU actually has five journals within three organizations. A description of each organization is included in this packet to help you figure it all out.
(2) What if I’m not interested in practicing Aviation Law, International Law or Technology Law?
No big deal. It is not a requirement of any of these journals that you swear an oath to practice law in any one of these areas. However, you should understand that you will be required to edit articles and write on topics in this area of law. You may come away from the experience more convinced that you have no interest in that area of the law, or you may be surprised by how much you like Aviation/International/Technology law. In fact, these journals generally cover broad legal areas that may touch on more of your interests than you expect.
(3) What will I be required to do when I’m on Law Review?
In addition to attending orientation and regular meetings, every journal requires their staff members to perform three basic tasks: a casenote, a comment, and citechecking. While the requirements vary from one journal to the next, a casenote is generally a 10-12 page article, usually due mid-fall semester, that focuses on the impact of a recent judicial opinion or legislative action. A comment is a much longer (length varies between journals, for SMU Law Review it is at least 40 pages) and more in-depth article on a particular issue of law. A final draft is usually due early-to-mid-spring semester. Students have some discretion in choosing their casenote and comment topics, as long as it falls within the parameters of their particular journal, and each journal publishes some of their best student articles each year. Throughout the year, staff members are required to perform citechecks on articles that have been chosen to be published in their journal. Students review the writer’s sources, check the accuracy of the writer’s citations, and edit the article’s content.
(4) How will I benefit from being on Law Review?
You will gain valuable experience, broaden your understanding of the law, and improve your research and writing skills. In addition, law review participants receive 3 hours credit in their first year, 2 hours in their second year of participation, and the high admiration of all their peers. Law Review can also provide incredible opportunities in your search for summer and/or permanent employment. For example, the large law firms hire almost exclusively students with Law Review experience.
(5) Is the Write-On Competition an anonymous process?
Yes. Participants’ names are kept anonymous until selections are made. The names of those who are not selected remain anonymous in perpetuity.
(6) How are Write-On memos evaluated?
Each association will receive an anonymous copy of the student’s memo, citation exercise, and editing exercise. They will independently evaluate the entries based on writing ability, facility with the legal issues, editing ability, and citation accuracy. The emphasis given to each factor is entirely up to the individual associations.
(7) Can I be selected for more than one journal?
Yes. Each journal independently evaluates each memo and makes their own decisions concerning offers. In this way, each participant has three chances to be selected to a journal. In the past, it has not been uncommon for selections among the three associations to vary substantially. You will receive a phone call from each journal that decides to extend you an offer. If you receive multiple offers, then you will select one journal to accept an offer from and email each journal to accept or decline.
(8) If I don’t Write-On this year, can I try again next year?
Yes, but you will no longer be eligible to “Grade On” as a rising 3L. Rising 2Ls and 3Ls are eligible to participate in the competition. However, if you would like to do Law Review, it is highly recommended to write-on in May of your 1L year (as a rising 2L) to receive the full benefits of Law Review status.
(9) “Writing On” v. “Grading On”
“Writing On” simply means to receive an offer from a journal based on your score for the Write-On Competition Packet alone. Regardless of grades, except that (in the past) to receive an offer to SMU Law Review, you also had to have been in the top 50% of your class after 1L year.
“Grading On” to a journal (in the past) has been satisfied by a (1) good faith effort of high quality on the Write-On Competition Packet and (2) being in the top 10% of your class for SMU Law Review or being in the top 25% of your class for International Law Review or being in the top 25% of your class for Science and Technology Law Review. A student can earn a spot on a journal by “Writing On” or “Grading On.”
***But see the current year’s Competition Packet to see the “Grade On” percentage requirements for any given year