Sunday, January 27, 2008

2 more months

Dear UCLA 1Ls: (post doesn't necessarily apply to other schools)

So, I usually save Law Review discussion for closer to the spring writeon. But I felt that this post is important now for 1Ls since they are considering right now whether or not to spend spring break doing the writeon competition. Law Review will also be beginning their recruitment/publicity efforts soon.

I am not anti-Law Review as some people would like you to believe I am. I am merely against the notion Law Review tries to sell that everyone needs to do the Law Review writeon.

There are some legitimately valid reasons to do Law Review:
1. I aspire to be a law professor.
2. I want a federal appellate clerkship.
3. I want to help influence legal scholarship.

But there are also some extremely poor reasons to do Law Review:
1. Because I think that it is prestigious.
2. Because everyone else is doing it.
3. Law Review members tell me to do it. (any surprise?)
4. I will regret it if I don't try.
5. Being on Law Review will get me a biglaw job.

The last point that mere Law Review membership alone will get you a biglaw job or that Law Review is required for biglaw is the biggest myth perpetuated by Law Review. Since its aura of prestige is maintained only if students continue to view being on Law Review as valuable, why not make impressionistic 1Ls believe that they need Law Review in order to get a job?

To debunk the whole Law Review=Biglaw myth, let's do a simple study. We will pick a large representative L.A.-based firm, and see whether or not current 2Ls needed Law Review to get hired (in a bad economy, no less) .

How about the L.A. firm of Latham & Watkins? (1) It is UCLA's largest employer, (2) it is the highest ranked West Coast based firm, according to Vault, (3) it was surveyed this year as a popular firm among students, and (4) more UCLA students did on-campus interviews with them than with any other firm.

So below, are the numbers of students going to each Latham office and the numbers of Law Review members out of the total number. Example: 2/5 means that out of 5 total people going, 2 of them are on Law Review. If people are splitting between offices, they are counted in the office where they will spend the majority of the time. This list includes most, but probably not all, of the summers. (How do I know so much about Latham? Hmmm...)

Los Angles: 1/10
Orange County: 1/2
San Francisco: 1/4
San Diego: 1/3
Chicago: 0/1
Washington DC: 1/1

Total: Out of us 21 Latham 2008 summers, only 5 are on Law Review. I think this ratio alone debunks the myth that you need Law Review to get a biglaw job.

So, in conclusion, you 1Ls have 2 months until the writeon. I'm not telling you not to do the writeon. During these two months, I merely want you to ask yourself, "What do I want to achieve after law school and will being on Law Review help me accomplish those goals?"

(Oh, in case Law Review tries to convince you that Latham is an exception, consider the following--it is also the firm where the 2008 Editor-in-Chief of the Law Review spent her 2L summer. And where the 2007 Editor-in-Chief spent his 2L summer.)


Blogger TunnelVision said...

Here's one reason to not waste time on Law Review: It's stupid.

If your school has a journal that focuses on a specific area of the law that you want to practice, that may be a good journal to try to write on to. That is what I did and since the journal that I am on has such a narrow focus, being on it has helped me connect with lawyers in my particular field of interest. Even if you don't make it, at least during the "write-on" process you got smarter in an area of the law you are potentially interested in.

If not, then I think your time is much better spent either working and getting "experience" or doing pro-bono work. Either of these can take you a lot further in the job hunt then just being on "Law Review".

8:41 AM  
Blogger M.T. said...

Generally agreed.

I think it is more difficult to get the "ultra prestigious" jobs if you don't have law review, but not overwhelmingly different.

What you should stress more, however, is grades. If you have good grades, journal membership doesn't matter. If you have a 3.7+, law review is basically as valuable as an honor society on your resume. If you have a 3.3, it might say more about you to make it on.

9:54 AM  

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