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Former editors say Law Review experience invaluable

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During his third year of law school, Bryan Babb did three things – eat, sleep and edit.

Babb, chair of the appellate services group at Bose McKinney & Evans LLP, was editor-in-chief of Volume 74 of the Indiana Law Journal at the Indiana University Maurer School of Law. He oversaw the work of a 70-member staff which selected articles and extended invitations for publication, cleaned the citations to match Bluebook style and, of course, edited.

He would print a hard copy of the article and, using red and blue pens, set about marking up the text. The different colors did not have any special meaning, Babb explained, but looking at two pigments was easier than reading a sea of red ink. Day and night he would spend hours editing, even having his wife drive on trips so he could sit in the back and continue working.

A former captain in the field artillery with 1st Armored Division of the U.S. Army, Babb described his turn in the editor’s chair as the most demanding thing he has ever done.

Editors and former editors echo Babb’s sentiments. The long hours they spent reading and editing articles honed their writing and critical thinking skills, the abilities they need and use in the practice of law.

Outside academic institutions, law reviews are seen in a different, sometimes less flattering, light. The common complaints about publications include concerns that students are editing the articles, getting a piece published can take months, and the end product has little relevance to the practicing bar.

In a 2007 column, Adam Liptak, U.S. Supreme Court correspondent for The New York Times, quoted sitting judges who said they do not read journals because the articles are too theoretical for practical use.

Indeed, when Chief Justice John Roberts made his famous quip about law review articles being too esoteric, he was adding to the criticism of the scholarly journals that can be traced at least as far back as 1936 and Fred Rodell’s article “Goodbye to Law Reviews.”
 

sullivan-frank-no-robe Sullivan

Frank Sullivan, retired Indiana Supreme Court justice, thinks the disparaging critiques are badly misplaced. Law reviews, he said, have been indispensible to him as a practicing attorney, judge and now as a teacher at the Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law.

While on the Supreme Court, he regularly read the scholarly journals and required his clerks to do a survey of law review literature whenever he was researching and drafting an opinion. The articles were helpful in gaining a better understanding of a provision in a statute or the Constitution.

Sullivan pointed to his opinion in City of Indianapolis v. Armour, 946 N.E.2d, 553, 556-57 (Ind. 2011) as one example. The central issue was whether a city ordinance violated the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution.

As part of his research, Sullivan drew upon two law review articles and his own examination of a previous U.S. Supreme Court case, Allegheny Pittsburgh Coal Co. v. Commission of Webster County, 488 U.S. 336 (1989). He reached the same conclusion as the articles’ authors that Allegheny was no longer good law and the ordinance was constitutional.

Subsequently, the Supreme Court of the United States affirmed his ruling in a 6-3 decision.

Esoteric and theoretical

Leandra Lederman, professor at IU Maurer School of Law, acknowledged at times that pieces in the law reviews can seem as if academics are talking to each other rather than offering something useful to practicing attorneys. However, the theoretical can lead to practical applications.


lederman-leandra-mug Lederman

David Herzig, associate professor at Valparaiso University Law School, agreed. In an article for a legal journal, he said, scholars can go beyond describing the problem and move to offering potential remedies. And there within lies the law review’s strength – the proposed solution can invite discussion among people that can then lead to an answer.

Law is formulated by people collaboratively thinking about the problem and talking about a possible antidote, Herzig said. It does not get formulated in a Legislature.

The article Herzig wrote on exchange funds illustrates the point he and Lederman made. Although the topic has limited appeal, the New York State Bar’s tax section referred to Herzig’s article when it made recommendations to the U.S. Treasury regarding exchange funds.

In turn, the journal Tax Notes asked the Valparaiso academic to write a response to the New York Bar’s suggestion, which he did in a shorter article. The conversation between the bar association and Herzig, he pointed out, was started by a law review article.

Former Valparaiso University Law Review editor-in-chief Jonathan Sichtermann reads law journals now that he is a deputy Indiana attorney general. The articles keep him abreast of development in the law and give him ideas for arguments to make in the briefs and motions he files with the court.

The law reviews are very important to lawyers, he said.

“They’re esoteric, they have a philosophical voice but law reviews look at the law from what it should be. They deal in broad philosophical issues that don’t come out in court,” Sichtermann said. “I think you need the scholarly journals to provide the foundation to practice.”

Student editors

Having published extensively in her 20-year career, Lederman has a positive perception of student-edited law journals.

“My experience talking to students at law reviews, they work really hard to do a good job,” she said. “They try to pick the best articles and they want the journals, when they come out in print, to be the best product possible.”

Students can be biased, picking the articles that cover the areas of law they have studied, Lederman said. Articles written on subjects not part of the first-year curriculum could have a harder time getting accepted and law professors may then have an incentive to craft their pieces in ways that tie into the topics taught in the classes that most students take.

Yet the student-edited journals can get the written works into print faster than peer-reviewed publications, Lederman said, and, in her experience when students are editing the articles, they will usually defer to the author.

Most of the student editors’ time is spent checking footnotes and making sure the citations conform to the Bluebook style. In print, the footnotes are usually separated from the article by a line and student editors take full control of what is below the line.

Herzig admitted he gets frustrated by the ongoing tradition of having a citation for practically every sentence. When law reviews were available only in paper form, having detailed footnotes with page numbers were necessary for research. But now, he said, with online formats readers can use a keyword search to find the cited passage.

Easing the rigid citation rules would give the students more time to edit the text which, Herzig added, is a more useful learning activity.


sichtermann-jonathan-mug Sichtermann

Sichtermann remembers his experience working on Volume 46. He devoted afternoons and evenings to editing and always got a little anxious when calling the authors to discuss his suggestions for changes to the text.

Now that he is a practicing attorney, he would like, at some point, to sit on the other side of the table by writing an article for a law review. When the student editor called him with questions and changes, Sichtermann said he would keep his own experience at the Valparaiso Law Review in mind.

“I would know where that 3L is coming from,” Sichtermann said. “I would give that 3L full control below the line and we’d talk about above the line.”•

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  1. I have been on this program while on parole from 2011-2013. No person should be forced mentally to share private details of their personal life with total strangers. Also giving permission for a mental therapist to report to your parole agent that your not participating in group therapy because you don't have the financial mean to be in the group therapy. I was personally singled out and sent back three times for not having money and also sent back within the six month when you aren't to be sent according to state law. I will work to het this INSOMM's removed from this state. I also had twelve or thirteen parole agents with a fifteen month period. Thanks for your time.

  2. Our nation produces very few jurists of the caliber of Justice DOUGLAS and his peers these days. Here is that great civil libertarian, who recognized government as both a blessing and, when corrupted by ideological interests, a curse: "Once the investigator has only the conscience of government as a guide, the conscience can become ‘ravenous,’ as Cromwell, bent on destroying Thomas More, said in Bolt, A Man For All Seasons (1960), p. 120. The First Amendment mirrors many episodes where men, harried and harassed by government, sought refuge in their conscience, as these lines of Thomas More show: ‘MORE: And when we stand before God, and you are sent to Paradise for doing according to your conscience, *575 and I am damned for not doing according to mine, will you come with me, for fellowship? ‘CRANMER: So those of us whose names are there are damned, Sir Thomas? ‘MORE: I don't know, Your Grace. I have no window to look into another man's conscience. I condemn no one. ‘CRANMER: Then the matter is capable of question? ‘MORE: Certainly. ‘CRANMER: But that you owe obedience to your King is not capable of question. So weigh a doubt against a certainty—and sign. ‘MORE: Some men think the Earth is round, others think it flat; it is a matter capable of question. But if it is flat, will the King's command make it round? And if it is round, will the King's command flatten it? No, I will not sign.’ Id., pp. 132—133. DOUGLAS THEN WROTE: Where government is the Big Brother,11 privacy gives way to surveillance. **909 But our commitment is otherwise. *576 By the First Amendment we have staked our security on freedom to promote a multiplicity of ideas, to associate at will with kindred spirits, and to defy governmental intrusion into these precincts" Gibson v. Florida Legislative Investigation Comm., 372 U.S. 539, 574-76, 83 S. Ct. 889, 908-09, 9 L. Ed. 2d 929 (1963) Mr. Justice DOUGLAS, concurring. I write: Happy Memorial Day to all -- God please bless our fallen who lived and died to preserve constitutional governance in our wonderful series of Republics. And God open the eyes of those government officials who denounce the constitutions of these Republics by arbitrary actions arising out capricious motives.

  3. From back in the day before secularism got a stranglehold on Hoosier jurists comes this great excerpt via Indiana federal court judge Allan Sharp, dedicated to those many Indiana government attorneys (with whom I have dealt) who count the law as a mere tool, an optional tool that is not to be used when political correctness compels a more acceptable result than merely following the path that the law directs: ALLEN SHARP, District Judge. I. In a scene following a visit by Henry VIII to the home of Sir Thomas More, playwriter Robert Bolt puts the following words into the mouths of his characters: Margaret: Father, that man's bad. MORE: There is no law against that. ROPER: There is! God's law! MORE: Then God can arrest him. ROPER: Sophistication upon sophistication! MORE: No, sheer simplicity. The law, Roper, the law. I know what's legal not what's right. And I'll stick to what's legal. ROPER: Then you set man's law above God's! MORE: No, far below; but let me draw your attention to a fact I'm not God. The currents and eddies of right and wrong, which you find such plain sailing, I can't navigate. I'm no voyager. But in the thickets of law, oh, there I'm a forester. I doubt if there's a man alive who could follow me there, thank God... ALICE: (Exasperated, pointing after Rich) While you talk, he's gone! MORE: And go he should, if he was the Devil himself, until he broke the law! ROPER: So now you'd give the Devil benefit of law! MORE: Yes. What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil? ROPER: I'd cut down every law in England to do that! MORE: (Roused and excited) Oh? (Advances on Roper) And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you where would you hide, Roper, the laws being flat? (He leaves *1257 him) This country's planted thick with laws from coast to coast man's laws, not God's and if you cut them down and you're just the man to do it d'you really think you would stand upright in the winds that would blow then? (Quietly) Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake. ROPER: I have long suspected this; this is the golden calf; the law's your god. MORE: (Wearily) Oh, Roper, you're a fool, God's my god... (Rather bitterly) But I find him rather too (Very bitterly) subtle... I don't know where he is nor what he wants. ROPER: My God wants service, to the end and unremitting; nothing else! MORE: (Dryly) Are you sure that's God! He sounds like Moloch. But indeed it may be God And whoever hunts for me, Roper, God or Devil, will find me hiding in the thickets of the law! And I'll hide my daughter with me! Not hoist her up the mainmast of your seagoing principles! They put about too nimbly! (Exit More. They all look after him). Pgs. 65-67, A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS A Play in Two Acts, Robert Bolt, Random House, New York, 1960. Linley E. Pearson, Atty. Gen. of Indiana, Indianapolis, for defendants. Childs v. Duckworth, 509 F. Supp. 1254, 1256 (N.D. Ind. 1981) aff'd, 705 F.2d 915 (7th Cir. 1983)

  4. "Meanwhile small- and mid-size firms are getting squeezed and likely will not survive unless they become a boutique firm." I've been a business attorney in small, and now mid-size firm for over 30 years, and for over 30 years legal consultants have been preaching this exact same mantra of impending doom for small and mid-sized firms -- verbatim. This claim apparently helps them gin up merger opportunities from smaller firms who become convinced that they need to become larger overnight. The claim that large corporations are interested in cost-saving and efficiency has likewise been preached for decades, and is likewise bunk. If large corporations had any real interest in saving money they wouldn't use large law firms whose rates are substantially higher than those of high-quality mid-sized firms.

  5. The family is the foundation of all human government. That is the Grand Design. Modern governments throw off this Design and make bureaucratic war against the family, as does Hollywood and cultural elitists such as third wave feminists. Since WWII we have been on a ship of fools that way, with both the elite and government and their social engineering hacks relentlessly attacking the very foundation of social order. And their success? See it in the streets of Fergusson, on the food stamp doles (mostly broken families)and in the above article. Reject the Grand Design for true social function, enter the Glorious State to manage social dysfunction. Our Brave New World will be a prison camp, and we will welcome it as the only way to manage given the anarchy without it.

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