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Am I really this dumb?

Why, oh why, did I wait this long to do serious work on my write-on for Law Review? I mean, I'm actually enjoying the question--and no, I can't say anything about it--but what was I thinking? There is now no time to actually do an appropriate job on this.

Oh well. It's time to buckle down, concentrate, and pull 3,000 words out of the air. Come to think of it, it's not that much unlike my last job...


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I am so glad I decided to skip out on all that law review craziness.
At least I have an excuse! Getting home from my first day of work at 10:30 last night didn't really help my entry. Although I have to say this is one contest I'm not entirely sure I want to 'win'...
Exactly. I'm glad we don't have any Law Reviews.
Does Columbia not reward the top performers in the 1L class with automatic election to law review based on grades? And is this some sort of new trend among the top law schools nowadays (IIRC, Heidi at "Letters of Marque" was blogging about working on her law review entry recently)? Back in The Hypoborean Era, when I was a law student at Northwestern, law review appointments were made on the basis of grades sometime during the middle of the summer, IIRC (law review appointees had the dubious pleasure of returning to the law school a month or so early to start working on law review), while the students who didn't make it on grades stressed out for the first week or two of their first semester as 2Ls doing the writing competition. I didn't bother writing myself; law review didn't strike me as being worth the trouble. I wasn't entirely sure I'd have accepted the law review invitation if I'd qualified on grades (but since I knew walking out of my last final that wasn't going to happen, it was something I didn't have to spend a lot of time thinking about).
Len, I don't know about Columbia, but at Michigan there's no pure grade-on any longer. Even if your grades scrape the top of the skies, you don't get on without putting forward a decent writing sample. Grades help, but they're not dispositive. I'm not sure what started the trend, but if you read some of the rumblings coming from HLS about the disproportionate number of (white) men on Law Review, I suspect that it started off as an equalizer and that people realized that it was just a good idea to make sure people took the thing seriously after.
Len, I couldn't tell you the historical justification--although Columbia also has 'diversity slots' set aside for Law Review, so if Heidi's right above about why write-ons started, it can go down as another one of those failed experiments. (I didn't even apply for those slots: call my a cynical white guy, but I don't think that of the laundry list of diversity in "race, gender, sexual orientation, class, education and professional background, and academic interests" the last few items get much of a look in.) But I think we're like Michigan: you can't get on to the Law Review without participating in the contest. Twenty-five slots are reserved for grades/write-on, ten are judged on write-on alone, and seven are 'diversity.' I sort of wish they'd go back to grades alone. At least then the stress ends with finals...
Thanks for the explanations Heidi and Anthony. I'd be curious to know if requiring participation in the writing competition has improved the quality of student writing in the law reviews any? (That's a rhetorical question; don't anyone feel obligated to answer that.)
My understanding was that a grades-only selection was perceived to privilege the regular law school nonsense without any way to identify the good candidates who didn't figure out Civ Pro until a month after the rest of their classmates, but still could offer a larger contribution to the Review than could their classmates who took to outlining like second nature. Two members of the recently graduated Law Review class---both friends of mine---come to mind who didn't have the 1L grades to make it on without the writing comp, but were certainly valuable additions to the Review; one made Ad Board. Incidentally, for clarity: It's not the case that 10 are selected only on the comp, 25 only on grades, and 7 only on diversity. The first ten are selected entirely based upon the writing comp, but the next twenty-five are evaluated on a 70/30 grades/comp split, and the next seven pretty much the same, with extra consideration for diversity. (Given that the Review has achieved at most five percent black staff for as long as anyone remembers, that consideration doesn't, evidently, count for very much.) But by far the greater weight for the largest share of Review positions is still allotted on the basis of grades. Agreed, it's not dispositive. But grades speaks very loud. (Oh, and Tony: I do hope you at least filled out the diversity statement, even if you didn't take much time with it. Those last seven slots are available to everyone, not just minorities and women, but they can only be considered for those who at least submitted the form.) Finally, on whether it's improved student writing: Almost certainly not, but that's an impossible standard. The twentieth century was a time of exquisite student-written Notes, a golden era likely not to be repeated. But the Columbia Law Review, like all its peers, still publishes very _nice_ Notes.
TtP: Sorry, I didn't actually fill out the diversity statement. (Given that the only real accomplishment I have that would qualify for 'diversity' at Columbia might be my Republicanism, I didn't see the point, and spent the extra time writing.) From what you say, it seems like it might have been worth it, but somehow--at least given the language of the form itself, it certainly didn't seem so.

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