Advice for getting on a legal journal

LegalJob was recently asked about advice concerning participation on a legal journal.  Below are some thoughts:

Definitely join a journal.
The more you can demonstrate writing experience (particularly technical writing) to a potential legal employer, the better off you will be.

Consider in advance of the write on competition which journal (or journals) that interests you.
Prestige of the journal is important (so it generally makes sense to join the law review if you are able) but so is the topic area.  

Some items to consider:

  • Experience with the subject matter from your undergraduate education or prior work experience
  • Interest in working in the particular area of law that is the focus of the journal

Review the latest edition of the journal (or journals) that interests you.

  • Note the format and style as well as the substance
  • Do you want to spend your time thinking and writing about these issues?

Reach out to one or two people on that journal or journals.

  • Ask why they chose the journal
  • Ask about how they think the journal fits into their career plans
  • Ask for general and specific (style and substantive) suggestions for the write on competition

General writing tips.

  • Once you are finally comfortable that you have your final draft, make that draft your FIRST draft
  • Appreciate that every word should carry freight.  If the word or words are not necessary to make your point, consider deleting. So be concise as possible and get to the point quickly.
  • Try to help the reader by summarizing up front the point of your essay/article/memo
  • One format is to summarize what you are going to say, say it, and then summarize what you just said (in a slightly different manner that the initial summary)
  • Do not leave any crumbs; make sure you have sufficiently addressed and supported your legal arguments
  • Consider presenting the merits of both sides; know that the conclusion is less important than demonstrating your cogent analysis and awareness of the facts that are helpful to each side
  • Assume the reader is a layman with no background or training in the area