And just like that a new school year is upon us. From all of us here at LESA, we hope that all of you Alberta law students enjoyed a relaxing summer, and we wish you the best of luck in the upcoming year.
With the start of the new school year also comes the quickly approaching Alberta Law Review deadline for second year students to join the student Editorial Board (September 9th at noon!). If you’re still considering applying or are working on your application, today’s LESA blog is for you.
Today we’re sharing what one of the Co-Editors-in-Chief, Michael Swanberg, has to say about Alberta Law Review: why working for the journal is an incredible experience, the type of work involved, and what you have to do to apply. Please note that, while Michael shares some great insights relevant for anyone wanting to work on the journal, some of these things apply specifically to students at the University of Alberta.
The Alberta Law Review (ALR) is once again looking to fill positions on its student Editorial Board in both Edmonton and Calgary. In an effort to increase interest amongst law students, the Co-Editors-in-Chief have modified the application process to decrease the amount of time it takes to complete the application. For those second year students at the University of Alberta who are interested in applying to the ALR, here is some information about the application process and what you can expect as a member of the Editorial Board.
What is the Alberta Law Review?
The ALR is a peer-reviewed legal journal run by law students from the University of Alberta and the University of Calgary. The journal publishes four issues per year and has a circulation of over 2500. The journal is planning on making a transition to a fully online open-access format by 2016/17, which is intended to give the practicing bar and the public enhanced access to the journal’s scholarship.
In a 2011 study of law school-run legal journals in Canada, the ALR was ranked among the top five legal journals in the country in each metric used (Neil Craik, Philip Bryden & Katie Ireton, “Law Review: Scholarship and Pedagogy in Canadian Law Journals” (2011) 36:2 Queen’s LJ 393). Scholarship published in the ALR is cited frequently by Canadian courts and in other academic journals in Canada and abroad.
Past members of the Editorial Board have gone on to distinguished careers in private practice, the judiciary, and academia. These include Madam Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin, former Supreme Court Justice William A. Stevenson, the Honourable J.E.L Côté (of the Alberta Court of Appeal), Justice Peter Costigan (of the Alberta Court of Appeal), and Prof. J.A. Weir, to name a few.
What is it like being a member of the student Editorial Board?
Students who are selected for a position on the Editorial Board at the University of Alberta are required to make a two-year commitment to the journal (2L and 3L). The Co-Editors-in-Chief assign each student to a committee that is given a set of tasks to complete each year. Committee tasks include (but are not limited to) vetting all article submissions and overseeing the peer review process, planning and running the annual Banquet, soliciting donations, preparing funding applications, running the annual Morrow Essay Contest, and planning recruitment activities for next year’s Editorial Board. The type of work that each committee is assigned varies considerably, but the work itself is a great way to meet and work with your other ALR colleagues. While the workload for each committee varies somewhat over the course of the academic year, committee work will, on average, entail about one hour of work per week.
All members of the Editorial Board are also required to complete a minimum of two student edits before they graduate. Each article that is accepted for publication (after passing peer review) is first edited by a member of the Editorial Board and is then edited a second and third time by the two Co-Editors-in-Chief before it is considered to be ready for publication. Generally, the student edit requires the Board Member to do a “light” edit on the text itself to correct all spelling, grammatical, and typographical errors and to do a more substantive edit on the citations to ensure full compliance with the Canadian Guide to Uniform Legal Citation (otherwise known as the McGill Guide, 8th edition). All editors are given an Editorial Policy Manual and Checklist to help guide the student through the editing process. The most important (and time consuming) aspect of the student edit is fact checking each citation. This entails finding the original source for each citation to make sure that all of the information contained in the citation is accurate and to ensure that all quotations appear exactly the same in the source that is being quoted.
If this sounds like a lot of work, it is! But have no fear – students have a lot of flexibility in choosing when to take on an edit, so you will not be forced to do an edit when it is not feasible to do so. Furthermore, there are many benefits to going through the full editorial process. Doing a student edit helps develop useful legal research skills that will serve you well in your future career. Student edits are the best way to become intimately familiar with the finer intricacies of the McGill Guide and to develop useful research skills that will make finding obscure sources much easier in other contexts. It also helps develop your own writing abilities as you focus on proper grammar and spelling. In addition, you learn a lot about new trends in Canadian law, which may come in handy in other courses and in your future career.
Are there other benefits to being a member of the Alberta Law Review Editorial Board?
Being a member of the ALR does come with some residual benefits! First and foremost, the ALR is a great addition to any law student’s CV, and all members of the Editorial Board receive an invitation to apply to the Alberta Courts clerkship program in 2L. Historically, members of the Editorial Board have had great track records in obtaining clerkships both in Edmonton and Calgary.
University of Alberta students are also eligible to receive course credit in 3L for work completed with the ALR. To receive the course credit, students must complete the two required edits and a minimum of 104 hours of service to the journal. If a student completes these requirements before the term that they take the credit in, then that effectively means the student only has to take four courses in that term (since the course credit is pass/fail).
Another tangible benefit that should not be discounted is access to the ALR office in the John A. Weir Memorial Law Library. The ALR has recently furnished the office with new furniture and computer equipment, making this space particularly comfortable during “crunch time” each semester when everyone is feverishly working on completing term papers and studying for exams. All Editorial Board Members have full access to the office and are free to use it to work on course work.
How do I apply?
Applications are currently open for all 2L students. There are many Board positions available, so everyone is encouraged to apply! The packages were sent out via email to all incoming 2L students at the beginning of June and are due back by 12:00 noon on Wednesday, September 9. This year’s application process is much less time consuming than that of previous years. Applicants are no longer required to write a case comment, and the length and difficulty of the “test edit” has been reduced. Also, the two reference letters are now optional instead of required. A complete application package consists of a cover letter, CV, law school transcripts showing final 1L grades, a completed test edit, and a committee ranking sheet showing the applicant’s preference for which committees they would prefer to serve on.
If you have any questions about the application process or the ALR in general, feel free to contact the Co-Editors-in-Chief (Michael Swanberg and Sophie Trageser) at firstname.lastname@example.org.