USD Law Journal Write-On Competition

by Michelle Irick, Senior Executive Editor, San Diego Law Review &
Tim Hance, Research Editor, San Diego Law Review

A word is not a crystal, transparent and unchanged; it is the skin of a living thought and may vary greatly in color and content according to the circumstances and time in which it is used.  —Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

The nature of words, in all their mercurial power, can be deceiving. Simple words, mere ink on a page, can make a revolutionary impact on our world—they are powerful, democratic tools. It cannot be emphasized enough how pivotal legal journals are to the law’s changing landscape. For anyone who has felt immense passion for change in the law or who has stalwartly defended a point of view as the most sensible route, the San Diego Law Review, San Diego International Law Journal, or the San Diego Journal of Climate and Energy Law would be like home. It is true, journal membership is prestigious—mention of law review or other journal membership garners instant appeal in the eyes of any employer, and your resume will leap to the top of the stack. However, it truly is more than this; it is a place for individual members to speak, to have their point of view heard and respected, and to help make a real difference in the legal community.

Speaking on behalf of SDLR, new members play a crucial, invaluable role in SDLR’s goal of publishing a top-notch scholarly journal. Our journal publishes four issues in each volume, and 2L members will help to ready articles for publication. This involves making sure that an author’s assertions are sufficiently supported and that the text and Bluebook citations are fit to print. Through this active engagement in editing legal writing, 2L members will find their own writing abilities honed and their critical acumen sharpened. And we remind you this is no small thing; you will win or lose your cases because of these skills. Upon publication, every SDLR member’s name will be credited in the print issues, viewable by the entire legal community. It is indescribably satisfying to see and touch the tangible result of your efforts, which will be memorialized in the enduring history of our esteemed publication.

Another experience SDLR members engage in is writing a thirty-page student comment. The comment can be on a topic of your choosing, regarding a controversial or developing area of the law. This is truly an opportunity to have your voice heard. The San Diego Law Review appreciates scholarly, innovative work, and this appreciation extends to the intellectually rich, diverse viewpoints spanning our many members. By deeply engaging in scholarly research and writing, each member has the potential to show learned expertise on a chosen legal topic. Each 2L member will be paired with a faculty advisor and comments editor who both will offer personal guidance throughout the comment-writing process. The San Diego Law Review will select a few outstanding student comments for publication, an excellent opportunity for beneficial exposure in the legal community. Additionally, successful completion of a student comment satisfies the writing requirement for graduation.

As the annual Write-On competition nears, we strongly encourage each rising 2L to participate. The Write-On competition gives students the option of applying to all or one of the three San Diego law journals, and the application process consists of completing one closed memorandum and a Bluebook exercise. Students will have the week of May 13 to May 20 to complete their applications, and they will pick up their application packets at noon on May 13 in LRC 132. The packets they will pick up contain a fact pattern that poses a legal question, and it will contain all of the research they will need to complete a ten-page closed memo answering the question posed. After students answer all issues presented to them in their memos and correct the twenty footnotes in the Bluebook exercise, they will turn in their packets to LRC 132 between 6:30 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. on May 20. Students who are not in San Diego during the drop-off date also have the option of e-mailing to receive permission to turn in their packets electronically via TWEN.

Students should view the Write-On as an opportunity to put into practice all of the skills and lessons they learned in their Lawyering Skills classes throughout the year. Because students cannot use any outside sources nor consult with any other person during the competition, the Write-On challenges students to work independently on a complex legal problem and work their way to a conclusion. Completing the problem is an accomplishment in itself, but students who demonstrate excellent research and writing skills will be offered a membership invitation on one of the three journals. The feeling of pride and accomplishment one receives when offered a spot on a journal is a special and rewarding experience surpassed by few others in law school. 

The doors of opportunity are open to every rising 2L; we beseech you to step through them. Participants of the Write-On are eligible for invitations to all three campus legal journals: the San Diego Law Review, San Diego International Law Journal, and San Diego Journal of Climate and Energy Law. It is entirely possible to receive invitations to each journal, and no participant must accept an offer until all offers are sent out. We wish everyone the best of luck and look forward to welcoming our new 2L members.

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