A Student Note about Writing Student Notes

February 4th, 2011

Take a look at this article by Andrew Yaphe titled Taking Note of Notes: Student Legal Scholarship in Theory and Practice:

In recent decades, an inconclusive (even by the standards of academia!) debate has intermittently flared up within the legal academy, as professors, judges, and practitioners have gone back and forth as to what legal scholarship ought to be. This article makes no contribution whatsoever to that debate. Instead, it looks at student legal scholarship, which has gone unnoticed while the larger debate about legal scholarship simpliciter simmered on. The article does two things, neither of which appears to have been attempted by anyone hitherto. First, it offers an extensive critique of the leading guidebooks for aspiring student authors (e.g. Eugene Volokh’s Academic Legal Writing), which are taken to task for their narrow conceptions of student scholarship. Second, it provides an empirical analysis of recent student notes, enabling the reader to get an overview of the forms that student scholarship has actually taken over the past few years.

I had an interesting experience with my student note. I wanted to write about information privacy law, and propose a new tort. My editors hated the topic,and would have preferred I write about something banal like a circuit split, or something like that. I went to write it anyway. GMU Law Review passed on it. I shopped it around, and it was published as the lead article in the Santa Clara Law Review (SSRN). I will say that I found Volokh’s book extremely helpful, not so much for picking a topic, but for organization and writing tips.