Friday, March 05, 2010

ITP: We Give Our Unsolicited Advice About Journal Tryouts

Well, it's already week #2 of journal tryouts, but this when most students decide to it. Having already done it two years ago, we can confidently tell you what you're in for, and how to make the best of it. (Of course, if we were taking the journal tryouts, we wouldn't be allowed to say anything about it - even that it was hard - as one observer put it: it's a state secret that journal tryouts are hard - so say nothing or get thrown out of school!)

Anyway, many of you heard us speak at the Unified Journal Tryout Information meeting, where we attempted to lay down some serious wisdom for the 1Ls. Mostly, we were just snickered at - but that's fine. Einstein was laughed at too. For those who actually want advice, though, consider the following no-nonsense tips (you can also check our advice from last year):

(1) Most secondary journals value the bluebooking part much more highly

No secret here. I can tell you that, historically, there are at least some of them where the essay is more-or-less of a tie-breaker. Don't think you're going to be in the top 15 essays / bluebooking of the entire school. Then don't sweat the essay too much - spend a solid day getting the bluebooking part as perfect as you can make it, then read the materials and just spend as much time as you can putting an essay together that is marginally coherent.

(2) Being on a secondary journal helps

Especially if you looking to score one of those fancy firm jobs through that OGI think, being on a journal can be the difference between getting pre-selected and . . . not. It also gives you something to talk about with the interviewer if you are an otherwise boring candidate (as we were).

Oh, FYI, EITE it's not journal or moot court, but journal and moot court. But you all already knew that. Don't get us wrong - there some scam element in journals / journal tryouts, and a lot of the time participating feels like being punched in the gut. But other times, like when you're kicking back some cold ones and pwning at shuffleboard at your journal's happy hour, or you see your name on that the front page of that glossy, bound, non-peer reviewed publication . . . it's all alright.

(3) But it doesn't really matter which one!

No, you will not get more respect from anyone for being on VJIL or Law and Politics than for being on VaSE. We believe that the resume boost is roughly the same.

This of course goes out the window if you can get on to the Va. L. Rev. In that case, you will get mad respect from everyone, including us.

(4) However, the secondary Journals are different

One of the secondary journals publishes six times a year - that's a lot of cite checking. Some others only publish 1-2 times a year. You should think about this, particularly as cite-checking can be kind of time consuming and what really matters is your grades.

Also, some journals have better softball teams than others. Some have better offices. Some have better happy hours.

(5) Don't kill yourself this weekend

Try your best, but remember there are diminishing marginal returns. Take time to eat healthy, to exercise, to watch college basketball, and imbibe lots of protein and beer.

Next time: we offer our unsolicited advice on how not to fail the MPRE. Studying may or may not help . . .

Previously:
For $5,000 I WILL Get You on Law Review
All Journal Tryouts, All the Time

Related:
Journal Tryouts, Or How I Learned to Stopy Enjoying Life and Love Getting Kicked in the Junk [Law Weekly]
Journal Tryouts are the Biggest Scam in Law School [Feb Club is Why Daddy Left]

41 comments:

Anonymous said...

FWIW, 2L offering advice: DO NOT do a journal unless you have an actual interest/desire to do it. If you're doing it just for resume puffing, definitely not worth it (do moot court next fall instead). In all of my OGI interviews, I was NEVER asked about lack of a journal on my resume, and it did not impact the success in my interviews whatsoever. Unless you're on Law Review, firms seriously don't care. I'm sure plenty of comments on this blog will disagree and say that doing a journal is VERY important, but if you don't feel like doing it, don't!

Anonymous said...

10:06 is right and the editor is wrong (sorry 12(f))

There is NO real job value -- it will only get asked about on your resume in your interviews if your resume is boring.

And what journal goes 6 times a year?

Anonymous said...

I tried out, made VJOLT, and then immediately quit when I realized how soul-killing the first cite-check was. With no journal on my resume, and roughly average grades, I got 4 callbacks and 2 offers.

This was 6-7 years ago, and I don't know that I would do the same thing in this economy. Today, I would probably do anything that is of potential benefit, no matter how marginal.

Rule 12 (f) said...

Wow, alums 6-7 years out read this blog? That's kind of humbling . . . thanks.

Anonymous said...

You mean flattering not humbling rule12 (sorry but the language troll in me cannot be suppressed), but I don't really know why you'd find it surprising that alums are readers. I never read this blog when I was in law school but I read it pretty regularly now.

Anonymous said...

The journal/moot court thing is like brushing your teeth. No one will high five you for doing it, but if you don't, people will look at you funny. :)

Also, the subject matter of the journal doesn't matter either. They're all boring and all require bitch work. Some just require more than others. Also, some have easier source gathering rules than others. (some make you get the original source, some are ok with a print out from Lexis)

I agree that bluebooking is by far the most important part for secondary journals. Remember that the people grading the tryouts are fellow law students. It's much easier to tell if the bluebooking is done correctly than to evaluate the quality of the essay unless someone does an absolute shit job. Finally, try to be as neat as you can. It makes grading go much faster and a happy grader is more likely to give you the benefit of the doubt on a close call.

Rule 12 (f) said...

Right, flattered.

It is flattering to me that anyone would read this blog - for realz; I'm mediocre to bad at most law school related things so it makes me feel all warm and fuzzy to know that i (might be) OK at this.

Anonymous said...

If you want to clerk, you need to be on a journal. And remember, clerking isn't just for people on law review. There are plenty of clerkships to go around.

Anonymous said...

I have an open offer to clerk in S.D.N.Y. and am not on a journal.

Anonymous said...

11:41 - You are the exception and not the rule.

Anonymous said...

Haha, no. Employers know that the journals are different--particularly the people who come to interview at OGIs. Most of them are alums, so they know that VaSE is a joke compared to VJIL. If you know it now, what makes you think that people who were here a couple of years ago don't know it?

Also, LR and at least some specialty journals rank by the essay and then use the bluebooking component as a tie-breaker. 1Ls don't know anything about bluebooking at this point and it's a pain to grade 200 editing components (particularly when every student uses different editing marks), so the whole great-bluebooking-but-crappy-essay strategy is not likely to yield desirable results.

Remember that the people who wrote the tryout instructions are the people on LR. They took the tryout and won, so it's probably a better idea to listen to them than this blog or the feb club blog.

Anonymous said...

1:53 - any clue which journals look more heavily to the writing as opposed to blue booking? Conventional wisdom seems to suggest 'most journals focus on blue book' but I haven't heard much specific beyond that.

Since VJIL has a note requirement, I would guess they look at writing more heavily than most journals; otherwise I have no information much less intuition.

Anonymous said...

FWIW I had several OGI interviews with former VJIL editors. We talked about being on VJIL and the note requirement. I didn't get callbacks from any of their firms, but it's hard to say what to put that down to.
I don't know if having a shared journal was a plus factor, but I didn't have a single interview with anyone who edited any of the other secondary journals.

Anonymous said...

I know plenty of people on vjil without jobs

Anonymous said...

And I know people on Law Review without jobs, but I don't think anyone is going to claim that being on Law Review doesn't help your chances of finding employment. There may be some people without jobs on VJIL, but there are plenty who have jobs with top firms.

As a member of VJIL, I can say that I interviewed with several VJIL alumni in OGIs and callbacks who brought up the connection (from White & Case, Simpson Thacher, Willkie Farr, Skadden, and a couple of other firms). Being on VJIL certainly won't guarantee you a job, just as going to Harvard Law School won't (see http://abovethelaw.com/2010/03/poor_little_harvard_law_3l.php). But being on VJIL will certainly help, and that's all you can expect from a journal.

Anonymous said...

I also had my journal experience brought up in many on-campus interviews, as well as taking up the good portion of 4 of my callback interviews with VJIL alumni (two of whom even had their VJIL certificates framed next to their diplomas... and one of which was only an Articles Editor, so managing board & not exec board, but who am I to judge!).

I was on managing board my 1L/2L year, though, so that may be why it was mentioned in interviews. So one thing to think about when joining a journal might be the managing board opportunities available to 1Ls/rising 2Ls.

Anonymous said...

I'm a VJIL alum ('03) and can say that VJIL is a great journal with a really strong alum network. I am pretty sure that this helped me get the edge for a biglaw job in New York, and also helped when I ultimately went in-house and ran into other alums. Not all journals are created equal. It's all about who you know, and the gunners who sign up to do extra cite checks and write a note today are the partners and GCs who are interviewing you tomorrow.

Oh yeah, and get good grades.

Anonymous said...

1:53 is dead on. UVA alums do know the difference between secondary journals. Somebody who did not go to UVA Law will probably view all secondary journals the same, but every alum I've talked to about journals, during OGIs or otherwise, knows whats what.

Anonymous said...

I'm on VJIL and no one has ever asked me about it in interviews or otherwise and I dont think it had much value or helped me land my job.

just sign up for whatever journal

Or no journal at all -- the employers dont really care

Anonymous said...

Uh, did anyone miss the REAL joke of the post? That moot court actually matters come time for OGI.

No one will be impressed if they just see "moot court" with nothing else by it-- especially UVa grads who know the timing of the competition.

About journals, I think if you have decent grades, are active in law school in other ways, and have some work experience it just isn't going to matter. You just don't want to be that kid with nothing but "moot court" in the "UVA Law" section of her otherwise "I interned some summers in college" resume come fall. Do a pro bono project. Join a board of a student org. Sign up for a clinic next year. RA for a professor. If you didn't do any of that, then do a journal.

But of course, go balls out this weekend for the tryout-- LR is worth it even if you aren't interested in the journal experience.

Anonymous said...

To echo 7:21: I'm a VJILite too, and literally nobody asked about it. I think it would have been nice to interview with VJIL alums, but I think this further speaks to what a random process OGI actually is.

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Anonymous said...

The 2nd best joke in this article is that employers don't see any difference between the journals at UVa. Alumni, the people most likely to be interviewing at OGIs, know the standing of each journal, and they know which ones require some work and which ones are basically a joke. Journals are also ranked, and those rankings can be found easily online; do you think employers are really going to ignore that information, especially in today's market?

Students without journal experience who land multiple offers in major markets are definitely the exception and not the rule. 7:21 probably just interviewed with the local legal aid office.

Anonymous said...

10:14,

lol, VJIL4life! It's almost as good as VLR, I swear! Waaah, Waaah, I didn't make law review so I'm going to delude myself into thinking that my journal matters!

Anonymous said...

No one, I repeat no one, with a say in hiring will check the ranking of your secondary journal, and compare it to others at your school.

Secondary journal will help only if an alum of a secondary journal as delusional as 10:14 happens to have a strong say in whether you get hired.

Anonymous said...

How was it 1Ls? Actually, don't answer that - go drink a 6 pack and pass out for the afternoon.

Anonymous said...

^ My ass is literally bleeding.

Anonymous said...

The secondary journal you're on may matter in rare circumstances. I had an interview with a boutique tax firm and they asked about my experiences on the Tax Review - maybe it also helped me get the interview.

No one is going to hire you solely because you did a journal or Moot Court but I do think they make someone who already has a solid background stand out that much more.

Anonymous said...

That was the worst experience of my entire life.

Anonymous said...

The secondary journal argument (valuable vs. useless, differentiated between journals or not, etc.) misses the point: in this economy, do you really want to bet on the fact that it won't matter? Go for the most prestigious journal or a journal that links to other interests/jobs on your resume - because on the off chance that it does matter, you want to have done everything you could to make you the most attractive candidate possible. Being on a journal may or may not help you, but it definitely won't hurt you...

Anonymous said...

Va. J. Crim. L. FTW!

Anonymous said...

re: ass bleeding / worst experience: I agree completely. Ugh. That was terrible.

Anonymous said...

It only gets worse you nancies so drop out and go teach kindergarden

Anonymous said...

Everyone drop out of this TTT toilet before you eat a self-inflicted bullet breakfast!

Anonymous said...

"Students without journal experience who land multiple offers in major markets are definitely the exception and not the rule. 7:21 probably just interviewed with the local legal aid office."

to clarify, 10:18 -- that earlier post did not say dont ever do a journal, it just said do one that you might like as opposed to the bullshit prestige.

And I also was not ever once asked about my journal. And I got almost all offers at real biglaw. The reasons were: strong interview skills, good (but sure not LR) grades, excellent undergrad (I have never seen a journal certificate in a partner's office, but I have seen a college diplomas), and real work experience. All of those things crush any law school activity (LR not included, as that is basically an affirmation of grades) by a mile

Anonymous said...

10:45,

I'm sure the things you mentioned did help you a lot, but maybe you wouldn't have gotten the interviews in the first place without the journals. I think it's more of a screening tool than anything else that they check off as they sift through the resumes.

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Anonymous said...

3:01, I'm assuming you just finished try-outs so it makes you feel better to think that firms use journals as a "screening tool" as a way to justify you ruining a weekend. Sorry, you are totally wrong. No firm, BigLaw or not, cares at all. It would be comparable to the admissions office looking at which intramural sports you played in undergrad as a "screening tool" for admissions to UVA Law.

Anonymous said...

I know this is no longer useful advice, but in case anyone in the future is reading this, I say, why not try to write onto law review? This post implies you shouldn't even try. SOMEONE'S got to write on every year, and it might as well be you. Try your hardest on the essay. Game plan: Friday afternoon and evening = edit (correct as many mistakes as possible and call attention to any ambiguities), Saturday = read the entire packet, Sunday = write 10 page paper, and don't go to bed until you are done. Stay up 24 hours if necessary. Don't be that person who cracks open a beer and calls it quits at 11pm Sunday night. It's totally false that VaSE gets as much respect as Law and Politics or Tax Review. Might as well put in that extra effort with the writing portion and roll the dice on law review instead of just giving up.

Also, consider alumni base when picking your journal. Many interviewers were on the longstanding journals (Tax, VJIL, etc.). Newer journals are less likely to have alumni interviewing you; hence you are less likely to connect on that front. If you can't get onto law review, pick something that has money, connections, and alumni.

Anonymous said...

10:23 - nah, graduated last year so I've ruined many weekends on the journal. :)

I had very subpar grades and still ended up with a big law job. I can't say for sure that the journal helped, but I know my grades sure didn't. I think firms care that you do something, whether it's a journal or moot court or pro bono work. I guess we can agree to disagree. :)

Cheers,
3:01

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