By Amanda Chan • November 06, 2017
1. They don’t have to be a big time commitment.
I was uneasy about signing up for yet another commitment during my 1L year, especially given that free time is especially rare as a 1L. But after attending the interest meeting for the Journal of Law and Gender, I realized that my time commitment all depended on my own choice. I could choose to do minimal work, which is just attending the subcite. (The subcite is when you doublecheck BlueBook citations on the article and proofread the article for grammatical and spelling errors).
For those who want to do more than just the bare minimum, you can sign up to be a line editor. I didn’t choose to pursue this, but my friend did. She said the journal provides training to be an editor. Along with her training, she has opened herself up to opportunities for leadership in the future. The 2L and 3L students are far more busy with the journal, as they are the article editors and senior team. But this can vary from journal to journal, depending on the size and allotted resources.
2. They can be a good way to meet other law students in other years with the same interests.
Some journals host dinners in small groups for the journal members to get familiar with each other. I visited someone’s apartment for pizza and just chatting. It was pleasant and I left dinner with some career advice and insider knowledge about Early Interview Week. It can be difficult to expand your friend group outside of the people you take classes with, since you’re stuck with them for so many hours in a day. But joining the journal introduced me to other law students, of all years, who share my interests.
3. They also have socializing events.
The journal should have a budget for socializing events. This way, students who want to learn more about the journal’s vibe and culture before signing up to join can do so. Getting to know your classmates is an essential part of law school, at least if you want to start make meaningful connections with people in your field, so I appreciate that journals provide a space to do that.
4. Subcites don’t have to be boring.
At the subcite I attended, breakfast (bagels!) and lunch (thai food) were provided, so free food is always a plus (there’s candy and Gatorade and A LOT of coffee too). But during the actual subciting, I liked practicing the BlueBook under the guidance of the more experienced 2L’s and 3L’s. Usually, they are very receptive to questions and will appreciate that you’re trying to do an accurate and thorough job. There’s good music playing too. The journal wants you to have a good time, so that you will go back to next semester’s subcite.
5. You don’t have to stick with it.
Sometimes it feels like a waste of time to sign up for something just to later leave it. But that’s not true. I think that 1L is a great time to explore your own interests and then narrow your commitments to just a few things that you can dedicate yourself to. So if you join too many journals or you just decide that this particular activity doesn’t do it for you, then there is no shame in walking away. Like I said, you don’t have a lot of free time in 1L, so you better spend it doing something that serves you well.
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