No Sleep Til Publication

At the end of your first year at BU Law — at, literally, the last moment of obligatory 1L duties — you get the chance to do more work. You can take a 300-page packet home after your final final exam, work for the better part of a week on a hypothetical legal memo and a bunch of editing exercises, and cross your fingers that you’ll get picked for one of the six BU Law journals.

I, like more than a hundred of my peers, did just that a year and a half ago. I ranked the American Journal of Law and Medicine as my top choice, and they picked me. As a second-year student, I was busy basically every minute with classes, clinics, interviewing and applying for internships, and leadership roles in several organizations. On top of all that, I also had regular, intense journal “source coordination” and “tech check” assignments — the grunt work of the journal world. And on top of that, I had to write my “note.”

A law journal student note is a pretty standard part of law school. The amount of effort you put toward research and writing is up to you, though. Plenty do the minimum necessary to stay on their journals. Many others go the extra mile, writing papers that qualify for “cert” (BU Law shorthand for certification, which is shorthand for a paper written under faculty supervision that meets the 7,500-word, high-quality paper upper-class writing requirement). Everyone has to cert before graduation, but not everyone does so with a journal note; some people write a seminar or independent study paper that qualifies.

Some of us went above and beyond that, polishing our work until we were satisfied enough with it to start submitting it to journals for actual publication. That’s not to say that many of the basic or non-cert papers weren’t awesome. Publication is just not something everyone wants to pursue.

I knew I wanted to be published. I also knew I had to write on a topic that fit under the broad umbrella of health law, the subject of my journal. I was honestly only minimally interested in health law at the time, so I struggled a bit with this. I conferred with my faculty supervisor, a specialist in family law, about intersectional areas between the fields.

Then, I chose a thesis that I knew was likely to be a hot topic, an issue on the leading edge of family law with a grounding in psychological and physical health issues. It was time to write, and I was finally excited!

I spent a huge amount of time reading books and articles and writing and rewriting and rewriting my note until it was something I could be proud of. It qualified for cert, which was a relief after a year of hard work. In the late summer, I researched journals that would be a good fit (like my BU journal) and those that would be even better (child and family law journals), and began submissions, tailoring and editing as I went along to conform the note to each journal’s needs.

My note was picked up for 2016 publication as an article in the Whittier Journal of Child and Family Advocacy, a great fit for the topic and an exciting capstone to my legal education. I can’t say any more about my actual topic until the article comes out, but keep your eyes peeled in five or six months (or subscribe to the journal — it’s not on your average newsstand!). I promise it will be interesting.

 

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