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 Peer Marie Oppenheimer, ’24, who leads the University of Chicago Legal Forum. Started in 1986, Legal Forum is the Law School’s second largest student-led journal. It publishes once a year, each volume examining a current legal issue in depth. The journal also sponsors an annual symposium that takes place in the fall. In this Q&A, Oppenheimer talks about what drew her to the journal, what she finds most rewarding about her role, and what she wishes more people knew about Legal Forum.
How did you first get involved in the University of Chicago Legal Forum? And why this one?
I participated in the writing competition my 1L year because I knew that I wanted to join a journal to improve my writing and editing skills. I also was looking forward to writing my own piece of legal scholarship on an issue that I was interested in.
What really drew me to the University of Chicago Legal Forum, specifically, was that it is the Law School’s only topical journal and hosts an annual symposium on that year’s selected topic. The opportunity to interact with renowned academics who were writing for the upcoming volume during the symposium was incredibly exciting for me.
Additionally, I was able to write about the legal issue that I was interested in within the Legal Forum’s topic that year of Borders and Boundaries. Nearly two years and many revisions later, my comment is finally being published in our 2023 volume.
What's it like being editor-in-chief of your journal?
I work very closely with our executive board and the administration at the Law School to handle the day-to-day tasks and make the ultimate decisions for the journal. While the role is very busy and can be challenging at times, being editor-in-chief has taught me how to navigate unexpected challenges in an efficient and timely manner.
The highlight of being editor-in-chief so far was our symposium in November. The symposium editor and I selected academics from across the country to present their work at the symposium, which they will refine for our publication. We were so grateful for the opportunity to meet and discuss timely legal issues with world renowned scholars.
What’s been the most rewarding part of this experience?
It has been such a rewarding experience to see everyone’s work come to fruition, from the initial topic proposal stages to publication. My colleagues on Legal Forum are incredibly brilliant, and I have had the honor to learn so much from reading and being involved in the editorial process of our pieces. Legal Forum’s 2023 volume on Borders and Boundaries will be available to the public in January 2024. I can’t wait for everyone to read the amazing and impactful legal scholarship of our staffers and article contributors.
What do you wish more people knew about your journal?
A significant feature of Legal Forum is our annual symposium. The symposium this year was on our 2024 volume topic: Reimagining National Security. Scholars from across the country came together to discuss how national security law adapts and responds to climate change, artificial intelligence, big data, pandemics, and cybersecurity threats. We were so honored to have Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco as our keynote speaker, who spoke about her career and how the US Department of Justice plans to tackle growing national security concerns.
Legal Forum’s annual symposium takes place in November and is open to the public. I highly encourage anyone interested to attend next year!
Additionally, unlike some of the other journals, Legal Forum only publishes once a year. I found that, as a staffer, it was useful to be able to plan my workload and class schedule around that publication deadline.
Why is it important for law students to get involved in a journal?
Journals teach students practical skills that they wouldn’t necessarily learn in law school classes, and these skills are incredibly useful in future jobs or clerkships. While correcting Bluebook citations may not initially seem useful, journal tasks like these have taught me to be meticulous and detail-oriented in my own writing and editing.
Not only do law journals provide a great opportunity for academic growth, but they also provide great communities at the Law School. I highly recommend all law students to participate in the writing competition, even if they’re not completely sure they want to be involved with a journal. The writing competition itself is a great opportunity to learn, and you may discover through the process that you enjoy the kind of writing and editing work that journals require.
What's something most people would be surprised to learn about you?
I have my private pilot’s license! I grew up around aviation and earned my license when I was 17 years old. When I’m back home in Los Angeles, I can often be found at my local general aviation airport flying small single-engine airplanes.
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