Q&A with Bethany Ao, Editor-in-Chief of the University of Chicago Law Review

What’s it like being on a journal? Better yet, serving as editor-in-chief? In this series, we sit down with the editors-in-chief of the four student-edited journals of the Law School to find out.

Here, we talk to Bethany Ao, ’24, who leads the University of Chicago Law Review—the longest-running journal at the Law School. It publishes eight times a year in print and offers original online content between issues. Law Review was established in 1933 and continues to serve as an esteemed law journal dedicated to the ideas of leading professors, judges, and practitioners.

Woman sitting at a computer desk smiling at the camera

How did you first get involved in the University of Chicago Law Review? And why this one?

I joined the Law Review as a staffer the summer after my 1L year. I chose to join the Law Review in part because it is a general interest legal journal, meaning that it publishes scholarship from all areas of law. I thought that participation in the Law Review would give me valuable exposure to different areas of law that I hadn’t taken classes in yet. The second big reason was the opportunity to work closely with my classmates. I had worked in journalism before coming to the Law School. During that time, my writing skills developed significantly due to feedback from my editors and peers. I wanted the opportunity to do the same for my legal writing skills, and Law Review was a great place to get that constructive feedback.

What's it like being editor-in-chief of the longest-running journal at the Law School? 

Being editor-in-chief of the Law Review is an unbelievable honor, but it’s also one of the hardest things I’ve done at the Law School. The most challenging aspect of the role is balancing my workload. I have learned to manage my time tightly to complete my journal work in addition to my clinic and academic responsibilities. At the same time, the role is incredibly rewarding. It is so gratifying to polish and publish a piece of excellent scholarship from start to finish, and to do so with my peers (who are all hardworking, brilliant people) has been an immense privilege.

What do you wish more people knew about your journal? 

That while we work hard and take our editing responsibilities seriously, we also have a lot of fun in what we affectionately call the “Joffice”! Law Review is a community of students with a range of legal interests, hobbies, and personalities, which means that on any given day, you can walk into the Joffice and overhear debates on whether paper money is unconstitutional, the merits of semicolons versus em dashes, or which NBA player has the best case for MVP. It’s a great way to get to know your classmates better in that sense!

Why is it important for law students to get involved in a journal?

Journal involvement has undoubtedly helped me sharpen my legal writing and research skills and strengthen my critical thinking. I believe that many other Law Review members would say the same of their journal experiences. It also provides students with a collaborative space in which they can develop creative arguments about the law alongside their peers (especially when they’re going through the Comment process and writing their own scholarship), which helps with learning to evaluate the strength and weaknesses of legal arguments in general. For those reasons, I believe that the journal experience is a deeply valuable one.

What’s something most people would be surprised to learn about you? 

I love backpacking! My first backpacking trip was a solo one to Torres del Paine National Park in Chilean Patagonia, and I’ve also completed the Tour du Mont Blanc with my mom. I’m hoping to backpack the Alta Via in the Italian Dolomites after the bar exam this summer!