Attention all law students! Looking to distinguish yourself as you enter the internship and/or job market? One of the best and easiest ways to get yourself noticed by prospective supervisors and employers is to get an article published while you are still in law school. The benefits of getting published are many as a well written article demonstrates your ability to analyze complex issues of law, your dedication to your chosen profession, and your initiative.
However, despite the abundance of publishing opportunities out there, students repeatedly return to the idea that getting published is something that only “expert” or “established” attorneys can do. This is not the case. Although getting an article published is never “easy” it is also not as daunting as it may seem. In an effort to demystify this process, this blog post, and the series of posts that follow will provide guidance and tips on how successful law students (particularly in the New York area) can break into the publishing field.
To begin this series, below please find a list of Tips to assist in this process:
Tip #1-Be Fearless
Law school (and especially the Socratic method) reinforces the idea that student opinions do not matter. However, in reality students often go as the unacknowledged experts in very discrete areas of the law due to a variety of different real-world experiences (i.e. acting as a research assistant for a professor, a clinic assignment, internship project, etc.). As a student in law school the key to getting published lies in the following steps: 1) recognizing your level of expertise; 2) developing it; and then 3)exploiting it. The lesson to be learned here is that your thoughts do have value even as a student, so long as you put in the time, thought, and effort into developing a quality product.
Tip # 2- Reduce, Reuse, RECYCLE!
In law school students are required to write constantly. Most schools have a significant upper-level writing requirement, while many individual courses require students to write on a wide variety of topics. Instead of letting all of your research go to waste, try to retool or revamp that material into a publishable format. Upper-level writing requirements can be submitted to law reviews and journals (those that accept student submissions). Memos can be updated to newsletter submissions, and even that minor research note you wrote for your internship supervisor can be redone as a blog post. This is a fantastic habit to get into as most legal jobs expect their employees/associates to contribute to the scholarship in their particular field. This sentiment is mirrored in the Preamble of the ABA’s Model Rules of Professional Conduct. Moreover, written submissions may even have the added benefit of counting toward CLE credits as your enter practice.
Tip #3-Enter a Writing Contest
Did you know there are thousands of small to large writing competitions held every year? Hundreds of these competitions are in the legal field catering to law students, but many are general competitions open to any type of student. With a little research and creativity, you can either author a new article or adapt something that you have already written. The benefit of entering a competition is that winning entries (even 2nd and 3rd places) are often offered publication in highly reputable journals that would otherwise be unavailable to students. Competitions also have the added benefit of offering prizes. The only caveat to entering a writing competition is that all rules have to be followed and deadlines met. Keep in mind that even if you do not win you may have an opportunity to get your work published elsewhere!
Tip #4- When in Doubt Collaborate
Law students in some ways are tremendously fortunate as every day they are presented with the opportunity to work with some of the top minds in their respective fields. However, that being said, it is a rare student indeed who takes advantage of these prominent professors and attorneys. The benefits of collaborating with a professor or supervising attorney are many as students may: 1) have the opportunity to be published in a high ranking journal that is otherwise unavailable; 2) develop a mentor relationship to last a lifetime; and 3) improve upon their writing style and research techniques. The biggest challenge in collaborating with a professor or supervisor lies in creating or identifying the opportunity as opposed to just working with them in the capacity as a research assistant.
Tip #5- Think Outside the Box
As law students it is natural to feel that in order for your publication to count it has to be included in a legal journal, newsletter, or blog. However, in this day and age of interdisciplinary studies, this limitation is no longer in effect. As a result law students should expand their horizons to include searching for publishing opportunities in unexpected places. Some of the best places to look are in graduate and undergraduate level academic journals, newsletters and blogs. In the alternative, business, scientific and political magazines and journals are also frequently receptive to law studen pieces. This is especially true if the law student has some prior work and/or educational experience in these fields.
Below please find a list of some additional articles and resources encouraging law student publication:
Ian Scott, How to Publish While You Are in Law School (Feb. 18, 2012), http://lawyerist.com/publish-in-law-school/.
Mary Whisner & Ann Hemmens, Writing For and Publishing in Law Reviews (Jan. 3, 2012), http://lib.law.washington.edu/ref/lawrev.html.
Publishing, Columbia Law School, http://www.law.columbia.edu/careers/law_teaching/Publishing(last visited Mar. 31, 2012).