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. Approximately 85 students from each class participate on a journal, and students selected for the journals must arrive back on campus in mid-August. Each year, the student-edited law journals hold meetings for 1L J.D. students to discuss the ways students can join a journal.
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 on the basis of either academic performance or excellence in an annual writing competition. Students also may join the staff during their second or third years by completing a publishable comment through the Topic Access program.
For more information visit http://lawreview.uchicago.edu/.
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.
For more information visit http://legal-forum.uchicago.edu.
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.
For more information visit http://cjil.uchicago.edu/.
Approximately 10% 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 typically 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). Additional students also are selected for The Law Review based on 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.) These proportions are subject to change by the Law Review, but are announced in advance of the writing competition.
All students desiring 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 have been required to enter the writing competition, regardless of their grades. Students are invited to participate in the writing competition before the end of their first year. During the writing competition, students must draft a memorandum in response to an issue presented by the journal board and complete an editing assignment. Rules for the writing competition are set by the journals, published in the spring quarter, and must be strictly adhered to or students may be disqualified. Students are also required to submit a personal statement.
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 research 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.
Each journal sets its own policies with respect to its Topic Access Program in consultation with the Dean of Students. What follows are the Law School’s policies regarding students writing a Comment for the Topic Access program in conjunction with an independent research or seminar paper. It is the responsibility of the student attempting to write on via Topic Access to inform the journal that s/he is writing a Comment in conjunction with an independent research or seminar paper.
At the topic proposal stage:
- 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 unless the author has received (and provided to the journal) prior approval of the faculty member who will be evaluating the paper. The student also must disclose to the faculty member the content of all substantive feedback that he or she has received from the journal editors on the topic proposal, preferably in writing.
- 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:
- If a student’s topic analysis is accepted, the journal may not give the student any feedback until after the student turns in the independent research paper for a grade.
- If a student’s topic analysis is not accepted, the journal may (a) inform the student that the topic will not make a good Comment; (b) suggest that the student consider using an alternative form of analysis suggested in the original topic proposal; or (c) tell the student that there are substantial changes that the journal cannot discuss with the student until after the student turns in the independent research paper for a grade unless the author has received (and provided to the journal) prior approval of the faculty member who will be evaluating the paper. The student also must disclose to the faculty member the content of all substantive feedback that he or she has received from the journal editors on the topic analysis, preferably in writing.
At the Comment submission stage, a student may submit a Comment at any time while working on an independent research paper, as long as the faculty member with whom the student is working does not object. Journal editors may give substantive feedback to a student who submits an independent research or seminar paper to the Topic Access Program prior to the paper being graded only with the prior approval of the faculty member who will be evaluating the paper. The student also must disclose to the faculty member the content of all substantive feedback that he or she has received from the journal editors at any stage of the Comment process (including topic proposal and topic analysis), preferably in writing.
When deciding whether to write a Comment in conjunction with the topic access program or as part of an independent research 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 independent research 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.
 Students who join a journal through a Topic Access program and do not prepare their submission as part of an independent research may have their final comment nominated for SRP credit by the journal if the student is accepted for membership.