My second year at BU Law has been over for a few days now. Most students have finals for another week or two, and first-year students have journal write-ons after that. I have been told I’m lucky. I have been told to shut up — by a jealous classmate or two.
I made some unusual (and, I daresay, smart) decisions this year and managed not to have any final exams this semester. However, that’s not to say my workload was light. I am still in full swing on my caseload from my yearlong civil litigation clinic, for instance.
I also recently got a few comments on my “final” draft of my big 2L project: my journal note. The note writing process is unlike any other research or writing I’ve done before. I did not write a thesis, but I think it’s pretty different from that, too, because it’s not necessarily about something the writer has been studying for a long time.
In my case, I picked a journal strategically — I wanted to work on a prestigious title, but one that weighted writing and editing ability above grades. The American Journal of Law and Medicine, one of the best health law journals in the country, relies 100% on write-on competition performance for member selection, and fortunately, they picked me.
My strategy fell apart a little when it came to picking a note topic. A note has to be at least 30 pages, with a minimum of 100 footnotes. It needs to relate in some way to the subject of the journal you’re working for. And a faculty member has to agree to supervise your writing, which means it should be of interest to him or her, as well. For my own edification, I wanted to pick a topic that I was interested in, too.
My note was really fun to write, once I found a topic that my faculty note adviser and I could agree was both legally relevant and intriguing. Not everyone can say that about this process, but not everyone is writing “Two Divorced Parents, One Transgender Child, Many Voices: Proposals for Effective Use of Expert Witnesses to Demonstrate That Awarding Custody to a Supportive Parent Is in a Trans Young Person’s Best Interest”!
OK, I know that’s a mouthful. The elevator pitch isn’t quite down to 30 seconds, either. Basically, my paper says that parental figures who support trans kids’ right to live as those young people want to have had a very hard time getting custody of those kids over less supportive parents, and that they wouldn’t have quite as tough of a row to hoe, perhaps, if expert witnesses were better able to speak to the benefits of this course of action.
I want to practice family law, and this is an area of evolving philosophies and, sometimes, limited judicial understanding, so it was a great fit. Fortunately, since it deals with what’s sometimes understood as a medical issue (“gender dysphoria”) — though I understand that many trans people and experts do not see it as something best addressed by a medical approach — it was also within the purview of my journal.
I do have a few tweaks to make before I start trying to publish my note, but if I do, you’ll read more about it here.