Notes are student-written articles.
The Virginia Law Review will consider only note submissions from
current J.D. candidates at the University of Virginia and from recent
graduates who have received a J.D. from the University of Virginia within
the preceding twelve months. Although many of the published notes
come from Law Review members, any law student or recent graduate
may submit a paper for consideration, and all are encouraged to do so.
Authors who are not members of the Law Review whose notes
are accepted for publication will be invited to join. As of September,
2009, invitations to join the Law Review will be extended only
to those students whose notes are accepted for publication prior to
March 1 of their final year of law school. First year law students whose
notes are accepted for publication will become members of the Law
Review at the beginning of their second year.
There are four windows of time during
which students may submit a note for publication: in January, March,
May and September. Notes should be submitted to the Notes Development Editor. Notes submitted for consideration should be accompanied by a
signed statement certifying that the note was substantially written
while enrolled in law school. For more information on submissions
periods or the specific requirements for a submission, please visit
page or the bulletin board
outside the Law Review office in Slaughter Hall (Room 135), or
contact the Notes
Notes may be on any topic of the student's choosing, so long as it is related to the law and is not preempted by an already published piece (in the Virginia Law Review or elsewhere).
Selecting a Note Topic
1. In General
Topic selection is notoriously difficult. Note topics may be of current or historical interest, but few law students have had much exposure either to the cutting edge of law or to the lingering mysteries of legal history. For this reason, the Law Review encourages students who are considering writing a Note to discuss potential ideas with faculty members.
A preemption check seeks to answer two basic questions about the suitability of the topic. First, has the topic already been covered by previous publications? In most cases this question is answered by whether or not another published Article or Note has addressed the same issue. If another piece has been published on the topic, the topic is not preempted if the Note will present a sufficiently different viewpoint (including significant updates of legal thought or case law) so as to retain its usefulness. Second, is the topic too broad or too narrow? The topic should be framed so that it is broad enough to evoke interest, yet narrow enough to be manageable.
A preemption check is also a good way to begin research, because it helps identify Articles and Notes published on the same general topic.
When performing a preemption check, consult the following: major treatises; at least five years of the Index to Legal Periodicals and the loose-leaf Current Index to Legal Periodicals; major cases; topical reporters; and Journal Articles and Notes.
Don't be too discouraged if a first or second topic does not pan outthis is a very common experience.
The Process of Writing a Note
1. Getting Credit
It is possible to get credit for work done on a Note. To receive credit, a student must individually arrange for a professor to sponsor the Note as an independent research project. These projects usually are worth two credit hours. Please refer to the Law School's Course Offering Directory for page guidelines based on credit hours. Most professors are quite willing to accommodate students' Notes as independent research projects (which are graded).
For Law Review members, a Note will satisfy the law school's writing requirement, so long as the Notes Department deems it to be of publishable quality. Generally speaking, the Note must be at least 35 pages (double-spaced, including footnotes) to be considered of publishable quality.
At its best, law review writing should be systematic and thorough without getting too dense. Lawyers want to be able to pick up a note, read the first few pages, and know whether the Note addresses their problem. Thus, clarity comes first at all levels: writing style, paragraph structure, and overall organization.
A Note usually is divided into Parts, marked by Roman numerals, along with an Introduction and Conclusion summarizing the Note's major argument(s). When necessary, roadmap paragraphs and mini-conclusions appear within the note to keep the direction of the piece clearly focused. Because of this formal structure, it is almost imperative to outline the argument before attempting to write it.
Similarly, outlining paragraphs will improve their structure. Topic sentences should come first; every other sentence in a paragraph should bolster or spin out the idea in that first sentence. Often authors write as they reasonfrom premise to conclusionbut in a Note the conclusion comes first. Again, the reason is practical. A reader should be able to glean the major thrust of the Note by skimming the first sentences of every paragraph.
Law review Notes make extensive use of footnotes. As a general rule, put into footnotes any relevant information which does not bear directly on the main argument or which would interrupt the flow of the text. Regardless of the breadth of research, however, a Note is not a vehicle for an encyclopedic display of all that the author has learned, or a bibliographic collection of every source consulted. Remember always that clarity comes first.
If a Note is accepted for publication, the author's work is not over. Indeed, it has only just begun. The author may be asked to fill in some research or reorganize a section, and he or she will have to keep up with cases and journals for any new developments before publication. These new developments can be devastating; in years past, student Notes have been preempted after being accepted for publication, causing them to be withdrawn from the publication schedule.
Law Review Note Requirement
All Law Review members are required to write a Note of publishable quality by the end of the first semester of their third year of law school. Each member of the Law Review Editorial Board is assigned a Notes Adviser. The Notes Adviser provides guidance at every stage of the Note-writing process, from topic selection to research to organization and writing. He or she will critique any outline or draft. Notes Advisers are required to certify that all submissions meet the academic and professional standards of the Law Review. If a Notes Adviser determines that a Note has not met this requirement, the author will be asked to rewrite the Note in order to remain on the Law Review. Appeals of such an adverse determination can be made to the Managing Board as a whole.
Law Review members who want to have a Note considered for publication are encouraged to submit a draft to the January Notes pool during their second year at the Law School. This is especially important for those members who intend to serve on the Managing Board, since the new Managing Board, which takes over in March, may decide not to consider the Notes of its members until the end of their third year.