In the coming weeks, many students at the University of Virginia School of Law will be trying out to join one of the school’s 10 academic journals, and considering which journal may be the right fit.

The publications, which are entirely student-run, offer a unique experience teaching useful lawyering skills, according to third-year law student Alex Briggs, the Virginia Law Review’s membership and inclusion editor. The review runs the unified journal tryouts, and Briggs is one of the tryout administrators.

“Being an editor on a journal is an excellent way to improve your research and editing skills, a lot of which are transferrable outside of legal scholarship,” Briggs said.

Briggs even credits his editorial experience with giving him an “edge” with research work at his summer job.

While each journal may be looking for something different in its prospective members, all applicants must go through the same tryout process: Bluebook editing exercises and an eight-page legal essay. For the editing portion, Briggs said, students are given an excerpt of a legal article with errors added. They must correct as many as possible based on Bluebook rules. For the writing portion, students must make a legal argument using just a “closed universe” of provided resources for a real unresolved legal question.

Prospective members can also submit an optional personal statement by Feb. 22.

“While personal statements must still be anonymous, they offer a way for students to showcase their interest in the journal and what they can bring to the table as an editor, or even as a managing board member,” Briggs said, adding that at the end of the tryout, students must rank their top three journals. “This order matters. It is visible to the journals and many journals give weight during the selection process to students who ranked them first.”

The spring tryout isn’t the only way to join a journal. Some publications, including the Virginia Law Review, offer membership to students whose articles, called notes, are accepted for publication. Several journals also run a tryout session in the fall for LL.M. and transfer students.

With spring tryouts taking place Feb. 24-27 and March 3-6, here’s a look at what makes each journal unique.

Journal of Law & Politics

The Journal of Law and Politics welcomes submissions from scholars year-round. Generally, the journal makes offers to students to join in the spring and late fall, editor Kathryn McEvoy ’23 said. When trying out, the editing portion in particularly important, she added.

“We heavily prioritize the editing component, but we also look at candidates holistically when the editing component is not quite up to par,” McEvoy said. “We also look for personal statements that indicate interest in JLP subject matter, interest in editorial work, and skills such as attention to detail, time management and teamwork.”

The journal is the only one of its kind devoted to analyzing the intersection of law and politics in a nonpartisan way. Students founded the journal in 1983 with the help of then-Circuit Judge Antonin Scalia, a former UVA Law faculty member.

Publishing two to three times annually, some of the issues the journal focuses on include voting rights, campaign finance, redistricting, voter initiatives, judicial appointment process, religious freedom and ethics investigations, McEvoy said. Student notes tend to be 8,000-10,000 words. For faculty submissions, articles under 20,000 words, including footnotes, are preferred.

Virginia Environmental Law Journal

The Virginia Environmental Law Journal prioritizes student interest when considering who to accept as a member, which can be illustrated through the optional personal statement applicants submit during the unified journal tryout, editor Elana Oser ’23 said.

“We do not require previous experience in the environmental sphere, nor do we look for an intention to go into environmental law after graduation,” Oser said. “Instead, we look for those with a general interest in the environment and related scholarship.”

The journal doesn’t typically have a maximum word limit for articles, but Oser said editors typically gravitate toward submissions that are less than 25,000 words. The board may accept submissions above 25,000 words if they are deemed “exceptional.”

“When reviewing submissions for publication, the journal looks for pieces that are original, advance a legal or policy argument, have clear citations to source material and accurately present cited sources,” Oser said.

The twice-yearly issues typically include one student note, which are 7,500-15,000 words.

Submission review takes place between February and April and again September through November.

Virginia Journal of Criminal Law

Founded in 2010 by UVA Law students Ashley Wilkinson ’11 and Margaret Cullum ’11, the Virginia Journal of Criminal Law publishes articles, essays, book reviews and notes twice a year.

The journal, which accepts submissions year-round, focuses on articles about criminal law and procedure, with no word count requirements for articles or notes.

When reviewing applicants, editor Madeleine Hart ’23 said she looks for people who have an eye for detailed editing and are interested in criminal law.

Virginia Journal of International Law

Founded in 1960, the Virginia Journal of International Law is the nation’s oldest continuously published student-led law review dedicated to public and private international law. The journal publishes three times a year, typically with two student notes per issue. The journal’s articles and notes focus on issues such as human rights, genocide, intellectual property, disability rights for refugees, trade, tax vetoes, sanctions and criminal law.

Article submissions should be between 15,000-22,000 words, including footnotes. Essays and notes should preferably be 10,000-15,000 words. Submissions under 10,000 words should be submitted to the Virginia Journal of International Law Online.

This year’s editor, Emily Wilson, said the journal has more than 100 members, who do not have a note requirement.

Wilson said having a “sincere” interest in international law — including the journal itself — will stand out in applications. She recommends writing the optional personal statement during the journal tryout process.

The beauty of international law is that it is quite a broad area and encompasses a multitude of topics,” Wilson said. “Joining VJIL is a great opportunity to engage with international legal scholarship more in depth, and to surround oneself further with peers, faculty and scholars who have interests in international law.”

Virginia Journal of Law & Technology

Known as the law school’s only e-journal, the Virginia Journal of Law & Technology provides a forum for free articles pertaining to biotechnology, telecommunications, e-commerce, internet privacy and encryption.

“We are a very tech-forward journal,” Yewande Ford ’23 said. “We post pieces that we think are top-of-mind in the current legal-tech world.”

Some of the most recent entries tackled topics like the immunity provided by Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act and the data privacy implications of the Supreme Court decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. Ford encourages anyone interested to submit their pieces as soon as possible through Scholastica. The submissions window opens in April.

Virginia Journal of Social Policy & the Law

This student-edited journal led by editor Sanskriti Neupane ’23 focuses on the significance of the law and legal institutions in shaping social policy issues.

“We look for articles that discuss the legal implications of social policies, which tend to be in the areas of family, education, healthcare and employment law, but do not have to be,” Neupane said. “We encourage our editors to look for articles that address issues at the intersection of race, gender, sexuality and socioeconomic status.”

Other issues the journal has focused on include welfare reform, criminal justice, critical race theory, voting rights and civil rights.

Virginia Law & Business Review

Known as a premier journal for business law scholarship, the Virginia Law & Business Review publishes three times per year. Submissions are accepted on a rolling basis.

According to the journal’s website, those submitting work should include a CV along with the article and abstract. Entries tend to focus on areas like commercial law, accounting, securities regulation, takeover litigation, venture capital financing and other corporate law subjects.

All student editors are members of the Virginia Law & Business Review Association, a not-for-profit organization chartered in Virginia.

“VLBR welcomes students of all backgrounds who possess an interest in topics at the intersection of business and law, although no background in these fields is required to become a member,” editor George McMillan ’23 said. VLBR offers new members the unique combination of a minimal time commitment — one to two cite checks total and no note requirement — and a wide breadth of leadership opportunities open to 1Ls both on and off the managing board.”

Virginia Law Review

The 110-year-old Virginia Law Review publishes eight times per year and offers authors “a tradition of excellence and light-edit philosophy,” according to its website.

The review welcomes submissions from judges, professors, law clerks and practitioners. The journal has two submission windows for articles: one opens in February and operates on a rolling basis, meaning it closes whenever that particular volume has been filled. (Last year, it filled mid-March.) Virginia Law Review’s submission window opens again over the summer to accept a few additional pieces, then-editor Scott Chamberlain ’23 said.

Articles are under 25,000 words. Chamberlain encourage interested authors to review the journal’s three departments: Articles, Notes and Online to determine which section is most suitable for their work.

The journal accepts eight to 10 notes per year. Students who submit notes, comments or online pieces are invited to become members of the review if their piece is accepted by March 1 of their final year of law school. There are three two-week long submission windows for notes — January, March and October every year. Notes should be 10,000-14,000 words, including footnotes. Going over this word limit is strongly discouraged, but students may submit notes under 10,000 words without approval. Notes longer than 15,500 words aren’t considered unless the notes development editor approves the submission. 

Virginia Sports & Entertainment Law Journal

This journal, also known as VaSE, publishes twice a year and has a rolling submission window. For the fall issue, articles should be submitted by July, and by December for the spring issue. VaSE publishes three articles and one student note per publication. The journal does not have word count requirements.

Past articles have included commentary on wine label laws, art law, copyright, antitrust and governance issues, according to editor Nick Priebe ’23.

The journal’s reach and influence is notable, he said.

“We are one of the oldest sports and entertainment law journals in the country and have been cited by opinions in multiple circuit courts, state supreme courts, and a plethora of articles published in some of the most well-regarded law journals in the country, including the Virginia Law Review and the Yale Law Journal,” Priebe said.

Priebe believes that “everyone at UVA Law is capable of succeeding” on VaSE. There are no specific requirements or skills the journal is looking for in applicants, other than an interest in continuing the journal’s legacy.

Virginia Tax Review

Editor Eddy Satchwill ’23 said the Virginia Tax Review looks for members who bring “something unique to the table.” The tax review pairs newcomers with experienced third-year journal leaders who mentor and help them master skills, from cite-checking to website coding and tax insight. The 43-year-old journal publishes in the spring, summer and winter. Submissions are welcome on a rolling basis.

There are no word count requirements for articles or student notes. The review does not “guarantee” student note slots per issue, Satchwill said.

Students who join the journal will quickly realize the publication’s attention to detail, he added. All new members go through cite-check training. Those joining the assistant managing board are paired with 3L mentors.

“VTR is a community where friendships have been made and fostered,” Satchwill said. “VTR isn’t only a prestigious name to put on our resumes for interviews and beyond — it’s also a genuinely good time.”

Founded in 1819, the University of Virginia School of Law is the second-oldest continuously operating law school in the nation. Consistently ranked among the top law schools, Virginia is a world-renowned training ground for distinguished lawyers and public servants, instilling in them a commitment to leadership, integrity and community service.