1.18 Journals

The Law School has three student-edited law journals: The University of Chicago Law Review, The Legal Forum, and The Chicago Journal of International Law.

The University of Chicago Law Review

The Law Review publishes articles and book reviews by leading scholars along with comments written by students. In addition to participating in the editing and publication of legal scholarship, staff members have the unique opportunity to develop their own skills as writers and scholars. The Law Review emphasizes student works. On average, half of each issue is devoted to student Comments. In recent years, approximately 20% of the students in each first-year class have been invited to join The Law Review.

The University of Chicago Legal Forum

The Legal Forum is the Law School’s topical law journal. Its student board annually publishes a volume of articles (by academics and practitioners) and Comments (by students) that focus on a single area of the law. Each fall the Legal Forum hosts a symposium at which the authors of the articles present their work.

The Chicago Journal of International Law

The Chicago Journal of International Law, a biannual student-edited journal, is the Law School’s newest journal. It publishes short Comments and articles by students and scholars on matters of international law and foreign affairs.

While students’ participation in journals is noted on their transcripts, students do not earn academic credit for any work done in connection with their journal. Journal members may, however, use a Note or Comment (whether published or not) to satisfy one part of the Law School’s writing requirement, as long as the Dean of Students verifies that the Note or Comment meets the writing requirement standards.  (See Section 1.13 for additional information.)

Approximately 85 students from each class participate in a journal, and students selected for the journals must arrive back on campus in late August.  There are several ways to become a member, and the journals hold meetings to discuss these opportunities each Spring quarter.

Grades

Approximately 15% of the first-year class is selected for The Law Review on the basis of grades. Students must have 40 credits of graded coursework to be eligible to “grade on,” which means students cannot take an elective with a long paper requirement in the Spring of their first year if they hope to grade on to The Law Review (because their papers will not be completed and graded in time for the competition process).  Thirteen students are also selected for The Law Review solely through the writing competition.  (Even students who ultimately “grade on” must participate in the writing competition and their submission must meet the Law Review’s good faith standard.)  

Writing Competition

During the summer after their first year, students are invited to participate in the writing competition in which students must draft a memorandum in response to an issue presented by the journal board and complete an editing assignment. Students wishing to join the staff of The Law Review, The Legal Forum, or The Chicago Journal of International Law at the beginning of their second year must enter the writing competition.  Rules for the writing competition are published in the Spring quarter and must be strictly adhered to or students may be disqualified.

Topic Access

Students may attempt to join any of the journals during their second or third year through the topic access program in which students draft a Comment for publication. If the journal accepts the Comment, the author becomes a member of the journal. Contact the specific journal editors with questions about this process.

Traditionally, students writing a Comment in the Topic Access Program become part of the journal’s formal topic access program. The Topic Access Program enables students to have feedback and guidance from the journal. Students are assigned a topic access editor who is a member of the journal board to advise the student throughout the writing process.

Alternatively, some students write a Comment for the Topic Access Program in conjunction with an Independent Study (a “499”) or seminar paper. Although this allows a student to obtain academic credit for the paper and to work with a faculty member, it significantly reduces the amount of feedback that the student can receive from a journal during the initial writing stage. Journal editors cannot give substantive feedback to a student who submits a 499 or seminar paper to the Topic Access Program until the paper has been accepted for credit by a faculty member.

At the topic proposal stage:

  1. If a student presents a topic proposal, the journal may (a) tell the student it is interested in the proposal; and (b) indicate that one type of analysis, among various alternatives presented in the student’s proposal, seems more appropriate for a Comment. It is important to note, however, that the journal cannot offer the student any substantive guidance apart from indicating which route seems most appropriate.
  2. If a student is unable to come up with a topic proposal, the journal may show him/her some proposals generated by journal members. Students who use a journal topic proposal must inform, and give a copy of the topic proposal to, the faculty member with whom s/he is working.

At the topic analysis stage:

  1. If a student’s topic analysis is accepted, the journal may not give the student any feedback until after the student turns in the 499 paper for a grade.
  2.  If a student’s topic analysis is not accepted, the journal may 
    1. inform the student that the topic will not make a good Comment; 
    2. suggest that the student consider using an alternative form of analysis suggested in the original topic proposal; or 
    3. tell the student that there are substantial changes that the journal cannot discuss with the student until after the student turns in the 499 paper for a grade.

At the Comment submission stage, a student may submit a Comment at any time while working on a 499, as long as the faculty member with whom the student is working does not object. The journal cannot give the student any feedback, other than accepting or rejecting the Comment, until after the final 499 paper is turned in to the faculty member grading the paper.

When deciding whether to write a Comment in conjunction with the topic access program or as part of a 499 or seminar paper, it is important for students to keep in mind that the requirements for a Comment are often quite different from those for 499 or seminar papers. Papers written for academic credit often have to be substantially reworked to conform to the journal’s standard for a publishable Comment.