Students Launch New Criminal Law Journal

March 29, 2010

The Law School is adding a 10th journal to its roster, the Virginia Journal of Criminal Law.

Ashley Wilkinson

Second-year law student Ashley Wilkinson spearheaded the effort to start the new journal, which was recently approved by the Law School's Curriculum Committee.

"When I applied for the unified journal tryout, I was looking at the list of available journals and I realized there wasn't anything that particularly suited my interests," Wilkinson said."There wasn't anything really targeted toward students just interested in criminal law."

So Wilkinson began checking with fellow students to see if there was interest and met with faculty members who taught criminal law to get their advice.

"We felt that there was a need at the school to have an organization devoted to students interested in criminal law and also for the university to have an academic showcase for both faculty and students interested in criminal law," Wilkinson said.

Wilkinson, the new journal's editor-in-chief, worked with second-year law student Margaret Cullum to submit the application for the new journal. Cullum will be the journal's first managing editor.

Wilkinson said she expects the journal to compete with criminal law publications at other top law schools, including at Northwestern, Georgetown, U.C. Berkeley and the University of Texas.

"Although there aren't that many criminal law journals out there, there are a lot of specialty journals," she said."Our idea is to host a symposium first, publish a symposium issue based on the ideas that were presented at the symposium, and then start acting like a more normal journal, publishing articles that are submitted."

The symposium is scheduled for the spring semester in 2011, while the first issue - including papers from the symposium - will be published that summer or fall. The journal will start by publishing two issues per year.

Professor Darryl Brown is serving as the journal's faculty advisor, and Professors John Jeffries, Anne Coughlin and Richard Bonnie are on the advisory board.

"We've got a broad criminal law faculty at the law school, and I hope the journal will help us strengthen the overall criminal law program here, in large part by expanding it outside the classroom and clinics," Brown said."Part of the plan is for the journal staff to sponsor a symposium occasionally, and to regularly sponsor informal speakers on criminal justice issues and facilitate discussions about students, faculty, practitioners, alumni and others about criminal justice issues. The journal's energetic staff could be a real shot of adrenaline to create more forums on the broad range of criminal justice issues."

Wilkinson, a New Hampshire native who majored in international relations at the University of Georgia, said she and Cullum are in the process of assembling a managing board and choosing staff. Ninety students who competed in the journal tryout process elected to submit their application to the journal.

"We've received an overwhelming number of applications," said Wilkinson, who in choosing journal members is focusing on students' cite-checking and writing abilities, as well as applicants' interest in criminal law.

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