"Boy Howdy" Means "Yes"


Because, really, who needs Spring Break?

Yeah. So the UCLA Law Review, unlike the fourteen law reviews that receive more citations than the UCLA Law Review, has an intensive week-long "write-on" application process instead of just inviting the top 10% of the first years to join. This is basically an AYSO "everybody plays" approach to law student prestige, except unlike AYSO, everybody loses as well.

Yes, even the third or so who make it lose their Spring Break. That's time that could be spent with family, friends, neighborhood cats, good books, any of a number of decadent tourist destinations, several bottles of Seagrams, Property outlines, hornbooks, or orgasms. But no. SOMEBODY came up with the bright idea to artificially inject a horse tranquilizer-sized dose of egalitarianism into law school. And while egalitarianism is an important element of the Law itself, it has absolutely no place in the practice thereof.

I think what the Law Review should do, really, is take some empirical data and see how closely the successful writers-on correspond to the actual top ten percent of the 1L class (or, since the school insists on not ranking us until it doesn't matter anymore, set a reasonable estimate for the 90th percentile GPA and go from there). If the top ten are consistently filling the ranks of Law Review anyway, they should shit-can this ridiculous write-on process and do it like they do it at the schools we all wish we were at. If, on the other hand, there's a great disparity between Law Review invitees and the top grade earners, then either UCLA is routinely giving good grades to people who can't do legal research, or the application criteria used by Law Review is hopelessly defective.

"But," you say, "Why should someone's candidacy hinge entirely on three final exams? I mean, maybe some people just don't get Civil Procedure." To which I reply, "A semester's worth of learning and ten hours worth of exam-taking is just as indicative, if not moreso, of legal abilities than spending a week sifting through hundreds of pages of bullshit to slap together fourteen pages of mealy-mouthed analysis. Neither of these processes accurately reflect what it's like to be a lawyer, but only one of them is going to take my Spring Break away. Which would Jesus choose?"

Angry now. Go to bed and have angry dreams.


but you say, 'should i feel sorry for someone who will soon be making ten times the income i will get from my puny english BA?' and you answer, 'boy howdy i shouldn't.'

Curse UCLA for depriving me of my man during Spring Break! But honestly, what choice do you have? What's the point of getting great grades and NOT applying for law review? Since I've got a vested interest in your future success, I'm all about the 500 pages of crap.

given the tenuosity of my future success, i think what you actually have is a vested interest subject to executory action, that action being me dropping the fuck out of law school and becoming a tone-deaf irish troubador who can't quite get that F-chord right.

...and the law won.

his pain is your gain, as they say, if they're me.

If you want to talk pain, ask Matt about how I've been bending over for Toyota lately in order to keep my car in a condition in which it can travel 800 miles most every weekend.

boo hoo hoo matt. i, like many of my fellow classmates whose GPAs are nowhere near the 90th percentile, feel really sorry for you because you got excellent grades and have just as good a chance of getting on law review as anyone else.

i'm offended by your drunk and incoherent boastery comment by-the-way. i've been told that i was entirely coherent.

just to clarify, the drunkenness and incoherence referred to the producer, NOT to emily. i've cleared this up with emily, but i'd like the rest of the world to know that i'm not a dick. well, not so much anyway.

hey matt,

the write-on competition at UCLA is actually pretty similar to that in many other law schools, including those in the top 50. some schools do a grade-on, some do write-on, some do a combination ... moreover, it shifts from year to year as the incoming editorial board changes. we've done a write-on over spring break at UCLA for several years because it seems to work the best.

also, speaking from personal experience, a few of the top 10% GPA-earners get on, but I haven't seen any consistent correlation.

it's difficult for me to really understand what your rant is about. yes, if you choose to write on, you give up your spring break. but no one is holding a gun to your head. if you don't want to do it, don't. also, for people like me, who would have had NO hope of "grading on," the write-on process is a godsend. moreover, you'll be giving up more than your spring break if you make it on. it's a lot of work, but you'll be proud of what you do.

further, I disagree with the premise that if the top 10% GPA-earners do not regularly make it onto Law Review, then either the grading system is wrong or the write-on system is wrong. for one, the write-on process doesn't test research skills; it ascertains a student's ability to analyze and organize a variety of different source information into a well-written and well-reasoned scholarly response to a problem. examinations test a student's knowledge and grasp of a group of related doctrines and their application to a hypothetical situation. the former emphasizes writing ability; the latter concentrates primarily on comprehension of legal doctrine.

lastly, possibly contrary to your last argument, neither a law school exam nor the write-on process indicate legal abilities or what it's like to be a lawyer. that's not what law school is about at all.

congrats on your new JOLT position, by the way.


a few things.

firstly, i've relaxed my position somewhat. i'm not advocating a pure grade-on process, but i think that the G.P.A. is a relevant factor in determining someone's qualifications to participate in ANY law school activity. by reducing the law review application process to a subjective review by four law students, you're denying the law review an opportunity to get a complete picture of its applicants. my position is that someone with a high G.P.A. who nonetheless has an off week while working on the write-on, and therefore may not have made a strong showing as he or she might have, should be given an additional presumption of ability given the fact that their abilities have already been demonstrated in other ways. that doesn't strike me as a very revolutionary proposal.

secondly, i understand that no one is forcing anyone to do the write-on. but to the extent that a position on a school's law review is something that many students covet for any number of reasons and there's only one way to get on, i think it's legitimate for law review hopefuls to raise issues about the process that they find questionable.

finally, i submit that the write-on process is not an accurate reflection of anyone's qualifications to be on law review. at best it gives an extremely narrow look into someone's ability to write on a specific topic over the course of eight days, certainly as narrow a look as you would get from looking only at someone's G.P.A. i would hope that given the prestige of the law review, there's more to it than readin' and writin'. accordingly, if the write-on seeks to gather a more complete view of law review applicants, the total exclusion of prior performance in law classes is an unjustifiable omission.

thanks for replying. i hope others join the debate.

just to clarify: i'm not saying the write-on is completely without merit. it's relevant. just like the G.P.A. and, for that matter, a resume are relevant. an ideal law review application process takes at least two of these things into account, if not more.

Just thought I would jump in here...and I will let you know off the bat that I have not been following this conversation from its birth, so if I say something off track, I apologize.
Matt, you said, "you're denying the law review an opportunity to get a complete picture of its applicants. my position is that someone with a high G.P.A. who nonetheless has an off week while working on the write-on, and therefore may not have made a strong showing as he or she might have, should be given an additional presumption of ability given the fact that their abilities have already been demonstrated in other ways"

First of all, why would you have an "off" week? If you are such a stellar student, capable of the rigors of law review, there should be no "off weeks"--you should be able to put your best foot forward during the writing competition, if it is important to you.
Secondly, isn't it just as possible for a student to have an "off week" during finals? I know that on the k's exam I just took, the computer I was on lost three pages...should that preclude me from an equal opportunity to get on to law review? What if someone is a great writer, but not so hot at spewing out as much material as possible in a three hour exam? Should they not have an equal opportunity?
I am not saying this because I am one of those people...in fact I am doing very well at law school. I am saying this only because the argument goes both ways.

as eager as i am to put this festering scab of an experience behind me, i'll respond.

the basic premise of your argument seems to be that final exams are just as arbitrary as the write-on. fine. but four arbitrary things will normalize to a more accurate representation of talent than one arbitrary thing. and while final exams may test your ability to "spew[] out as much material as possible in a three hour" period, you could make an equally dismissive assessment of the write-on. the fact that one doesn't reflect abilities any better than the other isn't a reason to ditch either. the more things you [the myopic law review editors] look at the more likely they are to glean some representation of an applicant's talent. but under the current system they're more interested in simply reproducing themselves.

Just stumbled across this web page. I, too, attend UCLA, and I believe that the Law Review write-on process works. However, I believe that people should grade on, as well. It is extremely difficult to reach the top 10% of one's law school class, and many classes view the "grade on" as a reward for the hard work. I don't think anyone would argue that someone in the top 10% of his/her class would fail at cite checking. Moreover, someone in the top 10% HAS TO HAVE DONE WELL in his/her legal skills course. Otherwise that person would not have received the necessary grades to be in the top 10 %. If people get graded on their research skills in that class, it stands to reason that they are good enough researchers for the Law Review. Finally, the problem with a pure write-on competition is that you get people with a 2.7 GPA getting onto the law review if they happen to have a father/mother who is an attorney and looks over the brief (don't give me any grief about the honor system; it happens, plain and simple). The law review is cited as secondary legal authority, and the people responsible for ensuring the accuracy of the analysis conatined therein should have done well enough in their courses to warrant that responsibility. Any schmuck can check a cite to make sure its perfectly quoted. Not any schmuck can understand whether the cited material comports with the law.

people who dont want spring break have no social lives i feel fucking sorry for u cold bastards

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This page contains a single entry by hb published on March 10, 2003 12:29 AM.

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