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Between the Lines: A Student’s Reflection on Law Review

Published December 15, 2023

Photo of Bryan Carlo.

Guest blogger: Bryan Carlo ’25

When applying to law school, one of the topics that often arises is Law Review. Many law school applicants have heard about it and are advised to maintain strong grades during their first year to increase their chances of being accepted, but often receive limited information beyond its prestige and resume value. Today, I’ll dive into why I threw my hat into the ring and applied to the Buffalo Law Review. 

The Buffalo Law Review (BLR) is the premier academic law journal at the University at Buffalo School of Law. As a student run organization, law review consists of a board of second- and third-year law students, with first-year students submitting applications in the spring semester. The application process begins with current law review members presenting and providing information during first-year classes, as they attempt to recruit the next cohort of applicants. Students may then express interest to the members or may choose to sign up at one of the tabling events the School of Law hosts at the beginning of each semester. The application consists of 1) a case note competition; 2) a diversity statement; and 3) submission of your 1L grades/transcript. 

Application Process

The case note competition is offered twice per year, once over spring break in March and once in late-May or early-June after spring semester final exams have concluded. The competition requires participants to write an analysis of a pre-chosen case with proper citation according to the “Blue Book”, which is a set of rules as to how case citations must be formatted. Participants are asked to analyze the legal issue and give their analysis on why the court decided the way they did and what impact the outcome could have on future cases. The case assigned is usually detailed with one major legal issue. Based on the complexity of the case and analysis, applicants are usually given seven to ten days to complete the note. There are also numerous formatting guidelines that must be followed precisely. 

The Buffalo Law Review is an inclusive environment and promotes diversity within its ranks through a diversity statement. This is usually a short paragraph or two, almost like your personal statement on your law school applications, that explains how you will contribute to the diversity of BLR and what other unique skills and background you can bring to the table. This can be about any of your prior experiences in academia, work, or life in general.

Finally, as mentioned above, you must try to get the best grades possible. While grades are only one component of the application process, poor grades can be a hindrance to your application. All three components of the application are looked at independently and given a score, which is only associated with a student ID number so that applicants are evaluated on a completely blind basis and offers are made fairly and objectively. Applicants are notified of an offer to join Law Review a couple of weeks after the final application period closes in June. 

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Duties and Responsibilities

Once you receive an offer to join Law Review, there are a few major components to it. Firstly, it is a credited class (more on this in a bit), so there is a bit of lecture that comes with it. In the fall, there will be a one-hour lecture a few times during the semester which will be led by a faculty advisor. They will also bring in guest speakers to help give you some pointers and tips on how to do academic legal research and writing, which is quite different than any research and writing most people have done as undergraduates and even from some of the legal research and writing you will do in your first year of law school. Another major part of being on law review is working on what are called “cite packs.” This is the main responsibility of associates on BLR. As an associate, you will be asked to review citations for works that have been submitted to BLR for publication, which usually happens five times per year. This means making sure that the citations are in proper Blue Book form and accurately refer to the information or line in the source cited. Associates are also responsible for checking things such as grammar and punctuation in the lines of the substantive text. The most creative, and in my opinion the most rewarding, part of being on Law Review is getting to write in a note and comment competition to potentially have your original work published in the Buffalo Law Review. You get to create something that is one hundred percent your own on any legal topic you chose. You are encouraged, required in fact, to talk to faculty about your topic idea and then write a note on a case that you have chosen or a comment on a law or policy decision and what impact that law or policy will have. This analysis is conceived in the fall semester, and then worked on throughout the winter break and spring semester, culminating in a submission of about 30 pages at the end of the spring semester.

You may be thinking, “this sounds like a lot of work, why would I want to do this?” While Law Review can be demanding at times, the rewards far outweigh the rigors of the time commitment. As mentioned above, you get academic credit for your participation during your second year. You will get one credit hour for participating in the fall and two credit hours for participating in the spring. This could potentially lighten the course load you need to take in future semesters, or combined with bridge classes, allow you to take a lighter course load while participating in Law Review. This will also satisfy one of the upper-level writing or experiential learning requirements that all law students must meet prior to graduation. In addition to getting academic credit for your contributions, you will also gain the prestige of having Buffalo Law Review on your resume. While applying for internships, externships, and jobs employers look at Law Review as a way of certifying that the student has top academic credentials and is committed to excellence in legal writing and analysis. This may help move your resume to the top of the pile, especially for highly competitive positions such as those as associates in large firms or judicial clerkships.

Final Thoughts

My personal experience on Law Review has been very rewarding. It is an amazing experience to be able to work with so many bright and talented people who are passionate about legal research and writing. I have had the opportunity to explore many new areas of law that are not taught in a classroom through reviewing submitted articles in our cite packs and further pursued my legal interests through our note and comment competition.

Additional Resources

Photo of Bryan Carlo.

Guest blogger:

Bryan Carlo ’25


Office of Admissions
University at Buffalo School of Law
408 O'Brian Hall, Buffalo, NY 14260

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