By Sarah Van Culin • January 26, 2013•Law School
Late last year, Ms. JD and the New York Law School released figures showing that female law students held only 31 percent of editor-in-chief positions at law reviews at ABA-approved law schools. As editor-in-chief of my school’s law review, the numbers surprised me; I had thought female law students would be better represented. I considered writing a post musing about the reasons behind the statistics but, instead, I thought I’d offer the musings of an EIC coming to the end of her journal life and share some tips and insights into life on the law review board. If nothing else, I hope to take away some of the mystery surrounding the law review board application process and to encourage those of you reading who might be considering running for EIC to get involved.
With law review board applications looming, it can be hard to decide what position to run for. Don’t discount running for editor-in-chief just because you think someone else is a shoo-in for the role. Much like first semester 1L grades, these things never work out the way you think they will. No-one applying for the role has more experience than you do because no-one has edited a law review before. While you can work on gaining all the editing experience possible prior to applying for the board, there is an inevitable learning curve involved with any role. Your current board knows this because they went through it too. If you’re interested in the EIC role, put your name forward, be professional about your application, and be confident. You have as much right to apply for the EIC role as anyone else on law review.
While the application process varies from school to school, there is a good chance that there will be an interview as part of the process. Although you’ve spent the past year working with the people interviewing you, remember to be professional and take the process seriously. The EIC role requires that you can communicate with everyone from fellow students through to seasoned attorneys and law professors, so you want to show that you have the communication skills to deal with any situation you may find yourself in a professional manner. Editing law review is a lot of work so the board will be looking for someone who will step up and make sure the work gets done, even when classes and outlines are taking up time. Sadly publication deadlines won’t disappear just because it is finals time.
Despite the title, an editor-in-chief doesn’t just edit. Around a third of my time spent on law review is spent directly editing articles for publication. The rest of my time is spent negotiating contracts with authors, working with the law school on administrative issues, addressing any staffing or timing issues, reviewing articles before offers are made, as well as anything else that might arise in the course of taking an issue from article offer through to final publication. You need to be able to multi-task and be aware that you are making a substantial time commitment to law review by running for EIC.
Editor-in-chief is not the most glamorous of roles day-to-day but it is probably the thing I have most enjoyed and most valued from my time at law school. I’ve had a chance to work with some incredibly talented attorneys and law students as we’ve worked to publish their articles. I’ve had the chance to make friends with a group of law students who I respect and who I truly enjoy working with and I’ve been able to hold a copy of the USF Law Review in my hands knowing that I contributed—in some small way—to our school’s academic reputation. I hope that more female law students will get the chance to experience the thrill of serving as editor-in-chief.