The Law Review Write-On Process

After a three-week long candidacy and a month of waiting around, I'm proud to announce that I am officially a Staff Editor for the Denver Law Review! 

Law review write-on has probably been one of the most stressful things I've done in law school. Even though we were given an extra week (due to pressures from COVID-19's effect on school and the editorial team didn't want those of us who wanted to join in on BLM protests to have to choose between protesting and finishing our write-on materials), it was still tough and I used every second of that extra week to continue editing my case comment and double-checking my Bluebook citations. 

I worked until basically the last minute--I believe I turned in my candidacy materials with twenty minutes to spare--and still spent those last twenty minutes anxiously checking and re-checking that my materials had actually successfully been submitted (yay anxiety!). 

I'm sure it may be different for other law school's law reviews, but for DU's candidacy process, we were required to write a case comment and to correct law review citations. The two components weren't weighed evenly, with the case comment weighing a bit heavier in considerations (which definitely makes sense with how much work needs to be put into it). 

I worked on the Bluebooking exercise first because I knew it wouldn't take as much time as the case comment. Let me be a bit honest, too: I definitely was a bit overwhelmed by the idea of writing the case comment, so doing the Bluebooking exercise first was partially a way to avoid getting started on the case comment. Plus, Bluebooking is pretty easy for me, at least with the practitioners' sections that we used most often in class. I found plenty of new sections of the Bluebook that I hadn't used before, but at least it was straightforward for the most part. 

The format of the Bluebooking portion was fairly simple: there were sixteen citations that we needed to analyze. We were required to edit the citations and make a note of every rule or table in the Bluebook we used in order to correct the citations. I'm kind of a nerd for Bluebooking since it feels like a puzzle to me, so I didn't mind this portion of write-on despite it being a little bit tedious. 

Like I mentioned above, the case comment scared me a bit. It just felt like way too much to do in the limited time we were given. After choosing the recent Supreme Court decision I was going to comment on, I spent two days reading through and taking notes on all the case comment materials, which includes the Supreme Court opinion, the transcript from oral arguments, anything cited in the opinion, and the three secondary sources offered (for my case, it was two law review articles and one podcast episode). 

Then I moved onto outlining, which took some time. The editorial board held some information sessions during the spring semester about the write-on process, so those of us who were writing on had a skeleton outline of what sections were needed in the comment and what they should include: an introduction, a background section, an overview of the case and the opinions and dissents within, your analysis, and a conclusion. And, honestly, I changed a lot of what was in my outline once I had my first draft written. I feel like I know plenty of people who changed up a lot of their comment once they began writing; I even had a friend decide a few days before the due date that she was going to change her entire comment. But, we all did what was necessary to turn in a comment that we felt comfortable with (and, yes, my friend also made it onto law review). 

Once I began writing my comment, things went more smoothly. I've always found that writing the first draft of anything is the hardest part, especially when you're staring at a blank page and realize you need to somehow fill up twenty of them with your supposedly brilliant ideas. But after you have something written down, it's just a matter of adding something here or changing the wording there, and, eventually, you have your comment. It's easier said than done though, to be candid. 

At the end of the day, I probably wrote ten drafts of my comment over the course of those three weeks, and, even though it's definitely not the best thign I've ever written, I was happy enough to turn it in. I don't think I've ever been so relieved, nor have I felt my adrenaline drop so fast after hitting a computer key. 

Because I've now gone through the law review candidacy process, I thought it might be a good idea to share some tips with you all that helped me get through those tough few weeks. 

Take Breaks

You may feel strapped for time, and that's totally fair. It's not a very long time at all to do all the work that goes into a case comment. But you shouldn't be sacrificing your mental health for a position. Plus, if you don't take those breaks, you may burn yourself out before the due date and it can affect anything else you're doing during the summer, such as a job or class. 

Get a Head Start

I needed every minute of those three weeks I had to feel comfortable with turning in my candidacy packet, and I'm glad I began on the first day of the write-on period. Attending those information sessions I mentioned above also helped me prepare. I heard advice from the editorial board and I knew what they were looking for in a candidacy packet. In addition, I followed their instructions in tabbing my Bluebook for the Bluebooking section, and it was definitely a good way to get ready for write-on. 

Double-, Triple-, Quadruple-Check Your Work

Your citations and your ability to make your argument in your comment are some of the biggest things that will be looked at while the editorial board reviews your candidacy packet. Make sure you're looking at everything you're going to submit several times to catch any little slip-up--citations require so much accuracy that it's not worth submitting incorrect citations when it's such a vital part of law review. 

Change Up Your Workspace 

If you're anything like me, you find sitting at the same desk in your apartment all day every day can get old real fast. While I was working on my case comment, whenever I found that I wasn't being productive at my desk, I would find a place to sit outside and edit my latest draft. It was a way to give myself a little bit of a break while still getting some work done. 

Give Yourself a Break 

Something that stuck with me from the law review information sessions I attended was that the editorial board understood that we were all crunched for time and that they weren't expecting perfection because of how short the candidacy period was. It was something I'd repeat in my head whenever I started to get down on myself for not being as far ahead as I thought I should be or when I just couldn't get a sentence to sound right in order to make my point. 




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