The Basics

What is the time commitment for 2L members?

Editorial responsibilities for 2L members begin on Monday, July 22. For the first month, staff training and work are expected to occupy three to five full days each week, taking into consideration other obligations such as EIP. Once the fall semester begins, the workload decreases, with members generally responsible for two or three assignments per week and each assignment taking between four and eight hours. To improve the flexibility of members’ work schedules, the Review has a debit/credit policy that allows members to pick up an extra assignment during a week when they have extra time and drop an assignment in a particularly busy week. Assignments end well in advance of final exams. In addition to editorial responsibilities, first-year staff members are required to author a student Note for possible publication in the Columbia Law Review.

Although the time commitment is significant, members of the Review still have time to participate in a wide variety of other activities during their 2L year. Each year, staffers serve as leaders of student organizations or coaches and editors of first-year moot court programs. They also work as interns, externs, teaching assistants, and research assistants, among other things.

Substantively, what will I be doing day to day as a 2L staffer on the Review?

2L members substantively edit and ensure the academic integrity of every piece we publish. For each assignment, 2L members are responsible for editing a section of a piece set for publication. Editorial tasks include evaluating and critiquing authors’ arguments as well as checking the substantive and formal accuracy of the citations throughout all stages of the production process.

What is the Note requirement?

Authoring a Note provides Columbia Law Review staff members with a unique opportunity to create a substantive piece of academic scholarship under the guidance of both a CLR Note Editor and a faculty advisor. Writing a Note is a serious and significant academic endeavor, and many staff members have remarked that their Note writing experience was the most intellectually rewarding experience of their time at Columbia Law School.

The Note is structured around other academic and Review obligations. The bulk of the work finding a topic comes in August, the bulk of outlining comes in late October, and the bulk of writing occurs over Winter Break. As a result, the work is spread out over a significant amount of time and does not interfere with exams. Authoring a Note can, and often does, fulfill a staffer’s major writing graduation requirement.

Will I be able to do a clinic, externship, semester abroad, or DC externship as a staffer?

Members of the Review frequently participate in various NYC-based clinics and externships. Participation in semesters abroad or the DC externship program is possible but more limited. All 2L members must be in New York for the duration of their 2L year. During their 3L year, members may study abroad or participate in the DC externship for one semester. During this time, members will be expected to complete their normal editorial workload remotely.

Will I be precluded from traveling outside of New York City during the semester or during callbacks because of Review assignments?

Not at all. 2L members frequently travel outside of New York City during the semester for job interviews, family obligations, and vacations. Members have the freedom to choose the days they work, so, for example, if they are traveling over the weekend they can arrange to complete their assignments during the week. The debit/credit policy also allows staffers to have a lighter workload one week in exchange for a heavier workload another week. Finally, members have the option of completing assignments electronically when traveling outside of New York City.

Will working on the Review in August hurt me during EIP and callbacks?

Not at all. Many, but not all, 2L members participate in the EIP process. Almost all have felt that being on the Review substantially helped them during the interview process. Members will be expected to work the week of EIP, but most do so over the weekend or on days without scheduled interviews. During callbacks, members may complete assignments remotely if they are unable to arrange their schedules to complete the whole week’s assignments in New York. The Review’s debit/credit policy also provides staffers the flexibility to have a somewhat lighter workload during EIP if necessary.

I’m really passionate about a specific area of law. Would I be happier on that specialty journal?

As a general interest journal, the Review gives members an unparalleled opportunity to pursue their passions for specific areas of law across both years of membership. During their 2L year, members author Notes, allowing them to deeply explore any area of their choosing. In past years, the Review has published student Notes on topics including immigration, the financial crisis, education, intellectual property, and more. During their 3L year, members have the opportunity to shape the identity of the Review by selecting articles for publication and thus can increase the visibility of an issue about which they are passionate.

In addition to allowing members to explore specific areas of interest, joining a general interest journal also exposes members to areas of law they might not otherwise encounter in classes or activities. Many members discover new areas of law that become focal points for their legal careers.

Can I work on another journal at the same time, either during 2L or 3L year?

No. Due to the significant time commitment required of 2L and 3L members of the Review, we do not allow our members to work on another journal once they begin their editorial duties.

What if I am taking a year off from law school after my 1L year?

If you are taking a year off, you should apply the summer before you will definitely return to law school, as you cannot defer an offer of membership to the Review. If you participate in the writing competition and subsequently decide to take a year off, you may not re-apply upon your return.

Application Logistics

Why does the writing competition take place right after finals?

The membership selection process, which includes evaluating all writing components, personal information, grades, and personal statements, is a time-intensive process. In order to give full consideration to each applicant and provide sufficient notice of acceptance for members to be back at Columbia in time for Orientation on Monday, July 22, it is necessary for the application process to begin right after finals.

What if I am traveling or beginning work right after finals?

The time allotted for the component takes into account that many students may be traveling or working during the same period. As such, the component is not designed to take all eleven days, but rather to accommodate the obligations students have in the week after exams. Thus, students traveling or working right after finals will have more than enough time to complete the component and will not be disadvantaged.

What do you look for in the personal statement?

The personal statement is intended to offer applicants an opportunity to share their background, work experiences, legal interests, or other relevant information that will shape how they contribute to the work and community of the Review. In other words, the personal statement is an opportunity for us to get to know about you as a person. The personal statement is also another example of your writing, so we value organized, thoughtful, and overall well-written statements.

My grades didn’t turn out the way I’d hoped. Should I still apply?

Absolutely! Fifteen of the positions are determined solely on the basis of the writing competition, which means that grades are not considered for those positions at all. For the rest of the positions, grades are only one aspect of the evaluation. We accept applicants with grades across the curve.

My LPW section did not provide as much training in Bluebooking as others. Should I be worried about the writing component or staffer work?

The Bluebook exercise is designed in such a way that it does not give any advantage to students whose LPW instructors focused more on Bluebooking. Moreover, the exercise receives less weight than other components of the application materials. With regard to staffer work, there is a steep Bluebook learning curve for all members, regardless of previous Bluebooking knowledge. Orientation training and immersion in the Bluebook during the first few weeks of work will teach you everything you need to know to complete your staffer work with flying colors.

What if I have questions during the response period?

Please direct questions about the writing component to the Executive Notes Editor, Daniel Fahrenthold, at ene@columbialawreview.org. Please direct all other questions, including questions about the application process, to the Editor-in-Chief, Mary Marshall, at eic@columbialawreview.org.

Will ranking the Columbia Law Review first hurt my chances at making it onto another journal?

No. The Law School uses a computerized system to match 1Ls with CLS journals. Because of the way the system works, it is essential that all 1Ls applying to the Review rank it first. Student Services finalizes the matches for Review members before all other journals, so if you are not accepted or decline an offer to join, Student Services will match you as if you did not apply to the Review.


What if I can’t make it back for Orientation?

Attending Orientation beginning July 22 is a requirement for all 2L members. Generally, employment obligations will not preclude members from returning for Orientation, as employers are usually happy to accommodate students accepted to the Review. If you have another serious, non-negotiable conflict that would prevent you from attending Orientation, please contact the Editor-in-Chief, Mary Marshall, at eic@columbialawreview.org to request an exemption. Please know that exemptions are granted rarely and only in truly exceptional cases.

What if I am participating in HRIP?

All 2L members on the Review must return to campus on Monday, July 22 for Orientation. In the past, summer employers, including domestic and foreign public-interest organizations, have been willing to release members of the Review from their employment obligations. HRIP allows students leaving their placements early for Orientation to receive their full stipend. However, HRIP will not pay for a second plane ticket if a student needs to change his or her travel arrangements. As a result, SJI recommends that HRIP students budget for potential changes in travel plans for this purpose. If travel costs would prohibit you from returning for Orientation, please reach out to Mary Marshall at eic@columbialawreview.org to make individual arrangements.