The University of Chicago Law School has three student journals - the Law Review, Legal Forum, and the Chicago Journal of International Law (CJIL). Students serve as the full staff for these journals - editing and managing the publications, as well as writing some of the pieces included in them. Beginning in late August, before classes start, the 2Ls who have just joined the journal join the 3L editors for what is lovingly called "boot camp." This is an Orientation of sorts, as well as a concentrated time to get to work on the business of putting out a legal journal. As Gus Hurwitz, 3L and an editor of CJIL, says, "The staffers are the backbone of each journal. They ensure the substantive accuracy of the articles we publish, and perform basic editing to put the articles into the stylistic and typographic formats used by each journal. The journals offer a quid pro quo in exchange for this labor. The journal credential offers a leg up in the job market---sometimes even hiring bonuses. And board membership can be an essential step to a clerkship or teaching career. But the real benefit underlying these 'perks' is that journal work is a uniquely good way to become a better writer."
Legal Forum is a symposium journal, meaning that it comes out once a year and all the articles are on a single topic (the staff and editors run a symposium on the same topic in November). Devon Hanley, a 2L on the staff of Legal Forum, said about boot camp: "The editors laid out the schedule for the year, and it seemed like at least a handful of the staffers, myself included, were surprised to learn that our schedule would be quite busy with journal work for the three weeks leading up to the start of classes. We had three rounds of Topic Proposals and Analyses to get through, all while we were supposed to be wowing recruiters on a daily basis during OCI."
Jake Linford, a 2L on the Law Review staff, had this to say: "Perhaps the most pleasant surprise about Law Review is that there is a sense of interdependence. The topics I proposed were analyzed by other staffers, who check to see whether a topic is substantive enough to be worth publishing. (The unfortunate conclusion is that none of my topics were up to snuff). We staffers take the responsibility to verify that scholars have accurately researched and attributed their scholarly works." Gus Hurwitz says: "Anyone can write prose; and any law student can become a better legal writer and researcher just by writing class papers. The journals offer lots of this sort of practice---each staffer on CJIL, for example, typically edits four articles each year, and writes one of his own. But the work goes beyond practice, adding a new critical skill to the staffers' writing and editing toolboxes. And this all starts that one day in August when the new staffers return to school for boot camp."
For more about our journals (including our three faculty-edited journals) click here.