What Is a Law Review and How Is It Important?

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You may have heard the term “Law Review” thrown around in popular movies like The Paper Chase and A Few Good Men, but what is it and why is having this phrase on your resume a benefit?

What a Law Review Is 

In the context of law school, a law review is an entirely student-run journal that publishes articles written by law professors, judges, and other legal professionals; many law reviews also publish shorter pieces written by law students called “notes” or “comments.”

Most law schools have a “main” law review that features articles from a wide variety of legal subjects and often has “Law Review” in the title, for example, Harvard Law Review; this is the “Law Review” addressed in this article. In addition to Law Review, most schools also have several other law journals that each focus on one particular area of the law, such as the Stanford Environmental Law Journal or the Duke Journal of Gender Law and Policy.

Generally, students join Law Review in their second year of law school, although some schools also permit third-year students to try out for Law Review as well. Each school’s process for selecting Law Review staff differs, but many have a write-on competition at the close of first-year exams during which students are given a packet of material and are asked to write a sample note or comment within a specified time frame. An editing exercise is often required, as well.

Some law reviews offer invitations to participate based solely on first-year grades, while other schools use a combination of grades and write-on competition results to select members. Those who accept invitations will become law review staff members.

Law review staff members are responsible for cite checking—making sure that statements are supported with authority in footnotes and also that the footnotes are in the correct Bluebook form. Editors for the following year are selected by the current year’s editorial staff, usually through an application and interview process.

Editors oversee the running of the law review, from selecting the articles to assigning work to staff members; there is often no faculty involvement at all.

Why You Should Want to Get on Law Review

The biggest reason that you should try to get on law review is that employers, particularly large law firms and judges selecting law clerks, love to interview students who have participated in Law Review, especially as an editor.

Why? Because students on Law Review have spent many hours doing precisely the kind of in-depth, meticulous legal research and writing that is required of attorneys and law clerks.

A potential employer who sees Law Review on your resume knows that you have been through rigorous training, and will likely think that you are intelligent and have a strong work ethic, eye for detail, and excellent writing skills.

But Law Review can be useful even if you don’t plan on working in a big law firm or don't plan on clerking, particularly if you plan to pursue an academic legal career. Law Review can give you a great start on the road to becoming a law professor, not only because of the editing experience but also through the opportunity of having your own note or comment published.

On a more personal level, participating in Law Review can also provide a support system as you and the other members are going through the same things at the same time. And you also might even enjoy reading the submitted articles and getting to know the Bluebook in and out.

Serving on Law Review requires an enormous time commitment, but for most members, the benefits greatly outweigh any negative aspects.

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Your Citation
Fabio, Michelle. "What Is a Law Review and How Is It Important?" ThoughtCo, Feb. 16, 2021, thoughtco.com/what-is-law-review-2154872. Fabio, Michelle. (2021, February 16). What Is a Law Review and How Is It Important? Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/what-is-law-review-2154872 Fabio, Michelle. "What Is a Law Review and How Is It Important?" ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/what-is-law-review-2154872 (accessed June 7, 2023).