Soon, you’ll finish your final 1L exam. Hooray! Overcome with joy (or something), you’ll head downstairs on a path that you hope will lead you to the most delicious beer of your life. Not so fast! Smirking 2L’s will greet you near the tower’s exit. They’ll stuff a monstrous packet of paper into your hands, the writing competition, which will occupy almost the entirety of your first week of “freedom.” My initial advice: grab the packet and go get that delicious beer. The writing competition will still be there the next day.
Let me back up. Next year, I will be serving as the Editor-in-Chief of BU’s International Law Journal (“ILJ”). A few weeks ago, the other EIC’s and I were able to speak at the law auditorium to a crowd of you overworked, overtired 1Ls. I realize that I probably wasn’t able to answer all of your pressing questions.
First Question: Why shouldn’t I just put that writing competition in the recycling where it belongs?
Well, maybe you should. But first take a moment to consider everything a journal has to offer. Working on one of BU’s legal publications provides you with technical experience that is difficult to obtain elsewhere. On the ILJ, for instance, you’ll spend at least two weeks in the fall pouring over the bluebook, fixing citations, and editing articles to perfection. That may sound tedious, but at the end, you’ll be a bluebook master. After next year, the citations in any paper, brief, note, or memo that you write will go down like aged whiskey. You’ll have more time to focus on the content of your arguments, and you won’t have to worry so much about the finicky, technical aspects of legal writing. This will come in handy at that fancy law firm you’ll be working at after graduation, or when you’re saving the world from itself with an NGO in a faraway land.
Beyond developing your writing skills, you’ll also get the chance to work with your peers in publishing important contributions to legal scholarship. The ILJ publishes articles on topics ranging from international human rights to international business written by professors and practitioners all over the world. If you have a specific area of interest in international law, you’ll likely get the chance to learn more about it on the ILJ.
Still not convinced? Well, a journal isn’t for everyone. But it does look good on your resume. Now, I’m no advocate of suffering through the writing competition just for a better job offer (there’s no guarantee of that anyway). Although a job is important, journal work is difficult, and it’s even more difficult if you don’t really want to be there in the first place. All the journals at BU work tirelessly and selflessly to put out their publications. If raw academics are not what you’re into, don’t forget about your other job-acquiring curricular and extra-curricular options. I like to think that law students should follow the “Rule of Two.” That is, pick at least two out of three of the following: journal, moot court, and clinic. If you do all three, you might be a superhero. But if you’re unsure of where you want to end up, remember that employers like to see any of those three things. A combination of your two favorites will give you a lot more to discuss enthusiastically in interviews.
Second Question: Will I ever have free time again?
That’s entirely up to you and your schedule. On the ILJ, however, we work hard to strike a balance between our staff members’ journal work and their other studies. For instance, the ILJ publishes twice per year. This means that all of your editing assignments will take place in the fall semester. Each editing assignment lasts one week. You’ll edit once in September and again in October/November. That’s about it. If you’re thinking about joining the ILJ, keep this in mind when registering for classes next year.
Also, don’t forget that you have to write a note! The note is a 30-40 page legal research paper that you must write and finalize by the end of March 2015. Because 2L ILJ editing all happens during the fall semester, you will have almost your entire spring semester to finish your note. We do this on purpose. It cuts down on the amount of things you’ll have to focus on, and we hope that it will allow you the time to turn out a quality work product.
Third Question: Should I be stressed out?
No! Take solace in the fact that hundreds of students before you have finished the writing competition, completed their journal assignments, and written their notes without loss of life or limb.
Last Question: What do you like about the ILJ?
Almost everything (I would say everything, but only the Sith and non-lawyers deal in absolutes…). Through the ILJ, I became close friends with students that were interested in all sorts of things. It’s not just an academic experience; it can be fun. For example, every time the ILJ has a mandatory meeting, we host a social after that’s paid for by the journal. Also, although we’ll be losing our 18th floor office, we’ll still have a space in the annex just for our staff where you can work, relax, or eat lunch. Finally, the ILJ’s note requirement allows you to explore an area of international law in great depth. You’ll also have the chance to publish your note as a 3L. The ILJ publishes four student notes per year.
In all seriousness, good luck on your exams! The incoming ILJ Board very much looks forward to reading your writing competition submissions and meeting our new 2L editing staff. If you have any questions about the ILJ, please feel free to leave them in a comment. Also, you can learn more about our journal here (Note: We will have our own website up and running by September 1st!). See you next year!