What to expect if you apply for a journal editorial board position

Law Review & Law Journal Offices UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA LAW SCHOOL | Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

[ Makenzie Way, 3L at the University of Pennsylvania ]

While a select few law journals – I’m looking at you Law Review – require a two-year commitment, the vast majority require only one-year commitments. In such cases, 2L members have the option to apply for, and serve on, the board during their final year of law school.

If you’re currently serving a one-year journal commitment, and are considering applying for the board, you may be interested in knowing what such a decision will entail. Obviously your exact responsibilities will depend both on your specific law journal, and the position for which you apply, however, at a basic level you can expect the following:

  • Supervisory & Leadership Responsibilities:
    Regardless of your exact position on the board, serving as a board member means that you are putting yourself forward as a resource for all non-board members. Members, and the public, will expect you to be knowledgeable on the journal processes and rules, the board composition, and board-related resources – should you receive questions on these items, you’ll be expected to answer them to the best of your ability, or guide the individual to the appropriate source or person who can. Additionally, you may be expected to oversee a group of junior editors or journal meetings.
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  • University Accountability:
    All members of the journal are tied by name to its publications, but remember, if something goes wrong it is the board who will be held to the highest standard. Likewise, it is the board who will be expected to resolve any issue(s), and/or make statements on behalf of the journal.
  • Author Contact:
    As a junior editor, you generally do not have direct author contact aside from making edit suggestions. As a board member, you can be expected to have some form of author contact – whether it be in the form of article solicitations and outreach, article acceptance communication, editing oversight, publication scheduling, etc. You’ll, of course, be expected to act professionally, and in the best interest of the journal during all stages of author communication.
  • Article Selection:
    Akin to your increased contact with authors, as a board member you will also assume increased responsibilities relating to article selection and approval. While some journals leave article selection up to their membership as a whole, most designate the board as the primary source for article selection.
  • Credit Allocation:
    As a board member, you will likely receive academic credit for your service, and it may be up to you as a group to decide how those board credits will be allocated amongst you. Likewise, as a board member it is your job to ensure that all non-board members are doing the appropriate level of work to warrant academic credit. Though it may feel awkward to refuse credit or issue warnings/discipline to your fellow peers, as a board member you are required to work with the university on such matters.
  • Board Selection:
    Finally, in most cases, the incoming board is selected by the current acting board. As a board member you will, therefore, be expected to participate in the board selection process, and to assist in transitioning the incoming board members once selected.
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