Tuesday, August 26, 2008

2L year begins

This is surely the longest I've gone without writing since I started this blog and to be honest, for a few days last week I wondered if I'd ever find the time. Alas, I miss it, the writing, and so I return, for whomever cares to read about my law school experience.

As the old law school cliché goes: The first year, they scare you to death; the second year, they work you to death; and the third year, they bore you to death. I've begun the "work" part, in earnest, and it likely won't let up for many months, if not until the end of my 2L year. Before I say more about this year's workload, let me make one thing perfectly clear, however. This — as in law school, William & Mary, Williamsburg, Virginia — is absolutely where I want to be. I still do not regret my decision to come here one bit. It is not what I expected, of course, because I never could have known what to expect. In any big transition, attitude and the people make all the difference. I am in good spirits and I love my people here, so I remain happy, tough as this year may ultimately be.

This summer I found out that I had made the William and Mary Law Review, the flagship journal at W&M. It is both the most prestigious and the most work. Because of the competitive nature of law school, I might have kept this announcement off my blog but then the administration went and posted our names — all 39 of us — on the front door of the law school. Many of my friends have made one of the four journals at W&M. For us, training began a week ago, and our first cite-check was due today. Briefly, the editorial process works like this:
  1. Hundreds, if not thousands, of authors submit their articles for review by the W&M Law Review.
  2. Our articles editors pore through the articles, and selects articles for publication.
  3. The editorial board divides the articles into pieces for cite-checking.
  4. The cite-checkers (that's us) locate the many sources used by the author. The numbers vary widely, but generally seem to be in the neighborhood of 75-125. We find most of them with online resources, but often the sources are books, journal articles, microfilm, microfiche, newspapers, etc. In those cases, we get the source from our library, the undergrad library or via interlibrary loan.
  5. The cite-checkers make copies of all the sources. This kills a lot of trees, but it's necessary to verify the accuracy of the information in the article.
  6. Where the authors are missing sources, cite-checkers add additional support, retrieving more sources as we go.
  7. The cite-checkers make all other editing and legal citation corrections to the article that we can find.
  8. The cite-check is passed on to the editorial board, and the editors clean up after us.
  9. The ed board consults with the author on the changes.
  10. A new issue is published. (We publish six issues per year, about 2,400 pages.)
Obviously I'm leaving out a few things — for example, I know the ed board does a lot more work than it may seem from what I've written. Overall, I must say that the whole process is way more work than I thought possible but it's also quite new to me, and new things can tend to overwhelm at first. Anyway, my first cite-check is done. The next one starts tomorrow.

The other part of working for a journal is writing a note, perhaps for publication. I'll write more about that later.

Because of journal and the job search for next summer, which is ongoing, I'm taking a lighter class load this semester. I have three classes: Evidence, First Amendment and Criminal Procedure II. The first is a necessary course for the Bar exam, though not technically required by the school. The latter two are constitutional law courses, and should be a lot of fun. I'm excited about all three. Oh, and of course there's Legal Skills — more writing, interviewing, and in the spring, trial practice. In addition, I'll be doing eight to ten hours of research per week for a constitutional law professor.

As for the job search, most people are interviewing at firms. The firms send interviewers to campus, and my friends leave class in suits to go to the library basement, where they sit and chat with lawyers for half an hour, hoping to land a job. Soon, many other 2Ls will be flying to various parts of the country, to do the same. I've decided not to apply to any firms, which was a hard decision but for me, a necessary one. I didn't come to law school to work for a firm; to be honest, when I came here, I wasn't even sure what they did. I want to do public service, that hasn't changed. So I'm applying with federal government agencies, non-profits, public defenders and legal aid societies, primarily in D.C. I've had one interview so far. We'll see.

I have a few other extra-curriculars on my plate, including the spring break trip to New Orleans and the ACLU. I make time for these because I enjoy them as much as anything else at law school.

It's good to be back. I definitely miss some of my friends who graduated, who've all taken the Bar and now anxiously await their results. There's also a new 1L class, including one of my two new roommates. They're probably great people, the 1Ls, but most of us 2Ls will be working too frantically to notice them. That's how it's felt so far, at least.

Now that I'm caught up on the nitty-gritty, hopefully I can get back to more substantive posts about what's happening here. This year will fly, but there's always time to write.