What Makes A Good Law Review Editor

Arpita Sengupta, a student at NUJS is an editor of the Journal of Indian Law and Society. We asked Arpita what are the qualities of a good law review editor, and she wrote this article. Over to Arpita.

Law Review is a law school journal wherein the major task of article publication lies entirely with students.

Legal scholars across the world have always held Law Reviews in high esteem. The US Supreme Court has gone to the extent of citing law review articles in deciding cases and substantiating the legal scholarship paradigm. In the United States, a stint as a law review editor is almost regarded as an assured opportunity to work in any federal court as a litigator. An editor is accredited the highest degree of prestige and is viewed as one with excellent analytical skills, legal writing expertise, intelligence and flawless argumentation.

One wonder as to what are the skills that a person must possess in order to be a Law Review Editor. While some legal scholars feel that there are no set standards to determine one’s eligibility, others feel that an editor must have certain qualities like great research skills, eye for detail, ability to persuade others, strong work ethics, and good writing skills. Let us explore as to what it really takes to be the chosen one.

1) Leadership –

One of the most important attributes of an editor is to be a good leader. An editor should be able to assume the responsibility of his team and provide his own opinion on the issue at hand. He should have good managerial skills and should instruct his peers fearlessly.

2) Ability to Comprehend –

An editor should understand what the goal of the article is and try and debunk any kind of ambiguity or legal jargons.

3) Critical Analysis –

An editor should have a critical bend of mind so as to change a matter of fact legal argument into an invaluable legal question. He should interpret a matter not only in the literal sense of the term or the black-letter provisions of law but also add his own analysis, comments and interpretation to it.

4) Research and Writing skills –

The most important skill required of an editor is unparallel research and writing skills. One must be fully adept in language, grammar and sentence structuring abilities. For an article to be ascribed as an excellent one, extensive research and reading is a necessity.

5) Persuasion –

An editor should have the power of persuasion. Whether an article is to be selected or rejected, whether any argument is valid or flawed can be made clear by the art of persuasion.

6) Communication Skills –

Good communication skills is an indispensable character of a Law Review Editor. They need to articulate and communicate lucidly in writing.

7) Listening –

An editor should not only be a good writer and researcher but should also be a good listener. He should listen to everyone’s arguments and only after inculcating his interpretation into it should he decide on the merits or demerits of the argument.

8) Decision Making Capacity –

A good editor is one who has the capacity to make a decision in a situation of conflict. Merely pondering over an issue is of no avail. One should have the capacity to make feasible decisions that would be beneficial for the progress of the journal.

9) Time Management –

An ability to manage time is of great necessity. Soliciting articles, selection of articles, carrying out editing work, publication of the journal and all other activities need to be carried out in a decided timeline or else a lot of pending work can create a bad impression about the journal. An editor might be faced with a time crunch and a need to prioritize between law review work and academics. He should have the willingness to efficiently manage both.

10) Coordination –

An editor should be a good coordinator. He should effectively coordinate between other editors, authors, publishers and the like. He should identify the best people for the job and allocate different work to different people based on their area of specialization and interest. Only then will the work be done efficiently and in time.

11) Learning –

Many students covet the post of a Law Review Editor for the sole purpose of adding a value to their resume. However, an editor should also be interested in learning and increasing his knowledge base. He should be interested in improving his communicating, writing, editing, speaking, footnoting skills while valuably adding to the journal’s advancement and expansion.

A Law Review Editor needs to be approachable, open to others’ views, non-opinionated and a person with a vision. One cannot possibly specify an exhaustive list of qualities needed to be an editor. One can learn the art of editing through experience, hard work and eagerness to learn. On the contrary, some editors can be inherently blessed with great editing and writing skills. One can say that confidence, leadership and willingness to go the extra mile is what makes one a good Law Review Editor.


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