Monday, February 25, 2013

Fun Fact About My Last Name (Zaylia)

No one is ever going to believe this.

So, some of you know that I made up my last name many years ago. But, as it didn't exist before then, I decided that I had the right to create the meaning of this word. So, I went to a few baby name sites and told the owners that Zaylia means "female independence and empowerment."

Now, there is a line of cosmetics out of Australia called "Zaylia Cosmetics," and on the website's "about us" page, it provides, "Zaylia was chosen as the name for this modern new line of cosmetics as it is an ancient greek word meaning: female, independence, empowerment, zeal and envy."

HAHAHAHA!!! I AM IMMORTAL!!! ;D


... I don't know how anyone thought it was Greek, but whatever.

http://www.zayliacosmetics.com.au/About


Saturday, December 1, 2012

Tutoring Info for the California Bar Exam (CBX)


I have had multiple requests to tutor some of the visitors to this blog.  Mostly, this has regarded preparation for the California Bar Exam (CBX for short).  

Back when I was taking the bar, I was soooo frustrated that I couldn't find any good, substantive information about how to take the CBX without having to pay $5,000 - $10,000 for a full bar course!  It sucked.

I mean, I knew that I had to know the law, but there is so much more to the "how" of taking the bar than learning the elements of a ton of legal issues.  This fits in with the general theme of this blog in that I like to address the "hows" of law school, the bar, and other things because, frankly, this information is absent (at least, for the most part, and if existent at all, you usually have to pay a premium in the hopes of getting the "how" that should be taught in the first place!).  

I also remember feeling so frustrated as a bar-taker that I couldn't just get an hour or two of tutoring without buying a whole course from god-knows-who for thousands of dollars. I just wanted to pick someone's brain for an hour or two, but this wasn't really available as a service.

Another thing that I wanted that was unavailable as an individual service was for someone to go over an essay that I had written as part of another bar course piece by piece.  I wanted someone to sit down with me personally and give it to me straight: the good, the bad, and the ugly.  For someone to tell me what my bad patterns were and, most importantly, how to change them would have been invaluable.  Again, though, this was just nowhere to be found without committing to much, much more financially.

This is why I've decided to start a company that provides this much-needed service for people studying for the bar.  I'm calling the company CBX Tutor, and its foundation will incorporate the principles of my blog.  More importantly, though, it will offer very detailed, individualized feedback for going over essays or PTs.  If you want to pick our brains, that's available, too. 

This is not a general bar prep or anything... just supplemental tutoring.  I found it so impossible when I was studying for the bar to discover anybody who would just tell me what in the world I was doing wrong (and certainly not without trying to sell a $5k full bar-prep course along with it).  This is why I started this company; I want people to have access to more personalized attention, particularly relative to extensive review and feedback of essays and/or PTs.  

Thank you to all of the people who have commented and emailed me requesting tutoring service.  It is heart-warming, and, hopefully, CBX Tutor will help a bunch of people and fill a gap in the bar-prep world.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Review of BarEssays.com

BarEssays.com found out about by blog (somehow) and asked me to write a review because I mentioned the fact that I had used their services in one of my posts (here).  I agreed to do so, and for the purposes of being upfront and honest, they have offered me some compensation.  But just know that I would be happy to review their services even without the compensation because, frankly, I used it the last time that I took the bar, so I know a bit about the good, the bad, and the ugly of this site.  I hope that all of you out there will find this review to be helpful.

WHAT THEY DO:

BarEssays.com is essentially a searchable database of actual, graded CBX (California Bar Exam) essays. This includes both typewritten and handwritten essays, and it covers many years of the CBX, both July and February bars.

THE GOOD:

I used BarEssays.com during the study period for the final time I took (and passed) the bar.  It was a good experience to be able to read actual exams and try to figure out why, oh why they received the grades that they did.

There are some awesome features that this site offers, and they are as follows:

  • You can search essays by: 
  1. date, 
  2. type of writing style (i.e., typewritten or handwritten essays), 
  3. score, and
  4. legal topic (i.e., Con Law, Torts, PR, Corporations, etc.).
  • They have an outline bank for all subjects.  
  • On the same page where you find the outlines, there are also checklists for each subject.  These checklists consist of single-page outlines of all major issues within a topic.  I personally used all of them.
  • It's only $75 (Note: They have since raised the price to $99, but I still think it's worth it).  This is far less expensive than nearly all other CBX services available.
I find the sorting feature so great.  It's easy and very user friendly.  There's no guesswork in how to navigate this site in order to get the essays you need or want to look over.  (Navigating for other information, however, is slightly less friendly as discussed below.)

I think that the best way to use BarEssays.com is to do so at two points in your bar studies: at the beginning and toward the end.  When I first went on their site, I was just beginning what would be my final studying period for the CBX.  Though it was easy to see the difference between a "55" and a "75" score, it was a lot more difficult comparing my own writing to the graded essays.  I think that people who are re-taking the bar are too pissed off and possibly too jaded to be very objective about their own weaknesses; this was certainly my issue, so perhaps I'm projecting.

However, when I had completed over a month's worth of studying and practice-test taking, I was able to be far more objective.  I would find exams for which BarEssays.com had both good and bad scores, go to the California Bar website (calbar.ca.gov), print out that exam, take it (timed), and then compare my essay to the highest and lowest scores that I could find on BarEssays.com.  Now, THIS was helpful!

Now, BarEssays.com has a new feature, which shows certain essays that have been reviewed by prior bar exam graders.  This requires a premium membership for an extra $50.  It's a good feature, especially for laptoppers (only typewritten essays are reviewed, and note that only some of them are reviewed).  The file needs to be opened with Adobe, and you have to use a browser other than Chrome.  Essentially, though, once you get a "review" file open, by mousing over comment bubbles, it's as though you get to see the reviewers' thoughts as they read the essay.  

THE BAD:

As I mentioned before, one bad thing was within myself in that it was hard to understand at first precisely what I needed to do to reach the higher scores, especially near the beginning of my study period.  However, once I went back to BarEssays.com toward the end of my studies, it seemed a lot clearer, and the grading made more sense to me.

As far as the premium membership is concerned, a significant portion of internet users choose Chrome as their go-to browser.  It's not BarEssay.com's fault that the "review" files don't open properly in Chrome, but this is the case.  The only place to find this information is by clicking the "Essay Search" tab and then the link toward the top of the page that says, "Search FAQ."  It seems like an odd place to have this information; it seems like this information might be better places under one of the two FAQ tabs.

I also thought that finding a "review" file should have been another sorting factor, but it's not.  Instead, after you sort for the type of essays you want, next to each essay, if it has been reviewed, there will be a review button next to the other buttons associated with those essays.

The only other bad thing is that there are no reviewed handwritten papers.  I went through all of the exams myself; it's true.  It seems that, by looking at the handwritten graded papers and comparing them with the typewritten papers, there is a difference as to the leniency with which the handwritten ones are graded.  I would love to see at least one highly scored, handwritten essay and one correlating poorly scored, handwritten essay reviewed.

THE UGLY:

My original review provided the following about "the ugly:" Ok, I'll be honest.  The site isn't the world's most aesthetically pleasing one.  But who cares?!?!  It's an extremely helpful database, and at $75 for all of the above, I would recommend it to anyone.  As for the premium membership, I would recommend it for laptoppers.  It seems like it couldn't hurt hand-writers, but hand-writers may be disappointed with a premium membership since no handwritten essays are reviewed.

However, I recently re-visited the site for fun, and it is MUCH nicer now! :D  Also, please note that they have since raised their prices to $99, but I still think it's worth it.

I hope that y'all have found this review to be helpful! :)  Until next time...

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Networking: Casting Your Net

This is one thing that seems to really intimidate law students, especially the new ones.  I also happen to know many attorneys who just don't know how to network.  We're seldom taught how to do this and why it's crucial to our careers.  I suppose there are two questions that I should address here: (1) how much time should one devote to networking? and (2) how does one network, precisely?  But before we jump into all that, there are some things you should know.

WHY NETWORKING IS IMPORTANT (the raw deal):


Networking is important because attorneys are more experienced than you are.  It's true.  If you connect with a few who think that you're awesome, you will inevitably meet them for coffee or lunch every so often.  Then, when you have a tough decision to make down the road, you can call these people (who are now friends) and receive their invaluable pearls of wisdom.

As a bonus, one of these people (now a friend of mine) did offer me a job right before I graduated.  It was just because we got along so well and had sloooooowly built a professionally based relationship.  He saw how I articulated myself because I was on certain committees with attorneys while I was in law school.  How did I get on these committees?  Simple.  I went to the County Bar Association and just asked if they needed any student volunteers.  Wouldn't you know it, they did.

This is also a big part of networking: you must go to it.  You must take initiative.  Do not expect things to land in your lap.  Maybe it's my age, but I've noticed that a lot of the law students who went straight through school seem to have a sense of entitlement, and they act as though others should feel privileged to know them.  As far as I'm concerned, I don't care if you're in the bottom 10% of the class or the top 2%; you should always approach others with a sense of humility.  Further, you must take initiative if you want opportunities.


WHAT TO BRING:

  • Your own business cards.  I found out through my law school career services office that our law school could make us some business cards for a nominal fee.  Make sure, regardless, that these look simple and not flashy or artsy.  You want to make sure that at least the back of the card is not glossy so that any attorneys who take your card can write on the back of it if they want to.
  • A working pen.  If you can spare it, bring your nicest pen.  I ALWAYS wrote two things on the back of every business card that I got: the event where I met that person and the date of the event.  Maybe if there was something nuanced about our conversation, I would write that on the back later.  The fact is that you're simply not going to remember the details of every conversation with every attorney from whom you get a card.
  • A suit.  Seriously, dress professionally.  Do your hair.  Personally, I never wore a black suit, though, because every other law student at whatever event usually wore a black suit.  I wanted to stand out, but not in a bad way.  Hence, I typically opted for a charcoal grey suit, but that's just me.


WHAT NOT TO DO:

Here's a word to the wise about what networking is NOT.  Networking is not supposed to be a thinly veiled plea for a job hook-up.  I think that going into it with that kind of attitude is not only the wrong way of looking at it but, worse, it is something that attorneys can smell a mile away.  If they can tell that this is the only reason you're talking to them, they will not give you a business card; they will not give you the time of day, particularly after the event.  You will be the plague.

Also, never ask for a business card.  If they want you to have one, they will give it to you.  Likewise, never force your card on them.  If they want one, have it ready, but do not ask them to take one preemptively.  Let the attorneys take the lead on this.  This is similar to attorneys never asking their clients for direct business; they let the clients take the lead while attempting to charm the clients.


Now, to those questions:

(1) How Much Time Should I Devote to Networking?

Like many things in law and life, there is no one, clear answer to this.  Personally, I tended to devote quite a bit of my time participating in networking while in law school.  By "quite a bit," I mean that I attended at least the monthly mixer at the local County Bar Association (the San Diego County Bar Association was my hub).  I got to know many attorneys there with whom I still keep in contact.

I also went to other mixers that were held at the law school.  I found these opportunities invaluable.  Of course, you won't stay in touch with most people that you meet, but it would be smart to stay in touch with at least some of them.


(2) How Do I Network?

Well, I'm imagining that a lot of people would give different advice on this front.  But this is my blog, so I'll just tell you my perspective. :P

I am going to let you in on a little secret.  Probably the last thing that attorneys want to talk about when they are at a networking event involving students is the law.  This is probably especially so because law students often act like they know everything in a (feeble) attempt to impress attorneys.

I think that the best way to network is to let your personality shine through.  If you don't have a personality, rent one for the evening.  Honestly, I got more business cards handed to me by talking about dogs and chocolate than by talking about anything else.  People loved it because those are two subjects that I am very, VERY passionate about.  My passion and, hence, my personality shined through.  People dig that, and I got a lot of business cards that way.

Interestingly, after discussing (you guessed it) dogs and chocolate at a networking event with one IP attorney, he told me that he hoped I would be the first woman president.  Can I get an "awwwww..."?  And, note, I did not discuss the law with that person even one bit.


FINISHING TOUCHES

This, again, will be one of those things that sets you apart.  When I found an attorney who gave me his/her card with whom I felt a real connection, I always, always, always wrote him/her a handwritten thank-you card.  There is something to be said for this.  Any thank-you card at all says that you're appreciative, you do not have a sense of entitlement that so many others tend to have, and you are thoughtful enough to send the card.  The handwritten part goes the extra mile because handwriting adds a far more personal touch than typewriting.  Of course, if your handwriting is awful, opt for typewriting. :P

Whenever I receive any thank-you cards, the person who sent it automatically becomes special to me, and I'm willing to spend lots (read: too much) time helping them out with advice and what not.


So, that's my take on networking.  I hope that you find it useful. :)  Until next time...

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Tips for Working Bar-Takers and Details on Writing Rules & Analyses

THIS POST IS A RESPONSE TO A COMMENT ON THIS BLOG ENTRY.

Q.  Brandon writes, "I just wanted to say that I REALLY appreciate you posting your input on passing the bar. I myself am I repeat taker of the California bar (failed July 2011) and am looking to re-take it in Feb. This time around I, like you, work full-time and I have a 7 week old daughter. So, I was hoping that you might be able to provide a little more insight on what you did in order to pass due to time constraints along with some of the tips you got from the tutoring you received in regard to essay writing. I hope I am not asking too much. Any comments will be greatly appreciated! Thanks again!"


A:

Hi, Brandon. :)

I'm sorry it's taken me a bit to get back with you (work has been a never-ending series of fires to put out lately).  Alas, here's my response.


I.  MAKE AS MUCH TIME AS YOU CAN FOR STUDYING.

Having a baby, I imagine, brings the difficulty of studying to a real head.  To be very candid, what I did when I came home from work every day was study.  Well, technically, I spent about 1 hour transitioning from "I'm finally home" to "aw, crap; I have to study."  This meant changing into comfy clothes and eating something.  I also cuddled with my roommate's dog for about 20 minutes.  But after that, I hit the books hard.  Seriously, I did it until I fell asleep.  Every night.  I only took 1 full day off, and that was to participate in a work thing.

If you have a spouse who can help with the baby as well as parents who don't mind staying over to help her/him out, I would really try to get them to do so.  Beg.  Bargain.  Do whatever you can.

One of my friends told me to "be really selfish" for once in my life.  This is what it took.  I even held off moving in with the boyfriend and found a place to rent for the studying period so that I would have no distractions (it was a room in a house, but that's all I could afford).

I know that this might not be helpful... I sure hope it is, but I'm willing to bet that having a 2 month-old baby puts another whole level on the difficulty of studying.  I truly hope that you can garner some practical support.


II.  HERE ARE MY WRITING TIPS.

A. ISSUES.

As far as writing tips are concerned, I significantly modified my writing style for this last time that I took the bar.  I would look at a problem and, instead of thinking, "oh my god, have I hit every possible tiny issue?!?!", I changed that into, "ok, what are the blatant issues that the examiners CLEARLY want me to hit and discuss?"  One friend of mine put it well; he said, "Show the examiners that you're not going to commit malpractice."

B. RULES.

Moreover, once I got the main issues out on a page, I would write a rule statement that stated the rule in one sentence.  Then, if applicable, I would go into the most key element of the issue (ex: intent, which is usually the most important element if it is, in fact, an element).  Finally, if applicable, I would  maybe write about what would happen in certain jurisdictions.

EXAMPLE: "Conspiracy is an agreement between at least two people to engage in an unlawful act.  There must be a specific intent to agree as well as a specific intent to commit the substantive act.  In a bilateral jurisdiction, both parties must actually and truly agree to commit the unlawful act, whereas, in a unilateral jurisdiction, if one party feigns agreement, the other may still be liable for conspiracy.  Some jurisdictions also require an overt act."

Basically, I would write my first sentence rule statement to include all the elements and then I would "unpack" the rule to be a little more sophisticated in the next sentence or two (especially when the facts would call for such "unpacking").

Just to note, though, there are clearly some issues that are so major that you must, MUST separate out the elements as their own sub-headings.  For instance, negligence is huge.  Therefore, under each subheading/element (duty, breach, causation, and damages), you will want to write out a rule statement.  But for most issues, you will not need to do this (e.g., battery, assault, trespass to land, conspiracy, standing, abstention, consideration... the list goes on and on).

C. APPLICATION.

The most important part, however, is the application section, as we all know.  I learned to cut right to the chase in my first sentence.  I try to sit back and think, "which element in the rule statement does the outcome of this issue really hinge on more than the others?  And why is that... what facts make this element above the others so contentious?"  Once I had my answer, I started writing.  Let me give you an example:


STANDING

[Rule; aim for more than the basic elements.] Standing requires an injury in fact, causation, and redressability.  If there is no injury in fact, the requirement for injury will be satisfied if the plaintiff can show a threat of immediate harm.  The government regulation at issue must have caused the harm.  Also, a favorable determination in the plaintiff’s favor must alleviate the grievance.

[Application; the big deal with standing, and given these facts, is whether the plaintiff was actually injured or about to be harmed, so that was the first element I addressed because I knew the outcome of the issue hinged on this element.:]  Here, Ned has standing because he is currently injured since he is not allowed to have a permit simply due to his age; this prevents him from performing his job.  Also, Ajax has standing because it can at least show threat of an immediate future harm since some of its employees will not be able to perform their duties by being precluded from obtaining a permit in State A.  Further, assuming that Ajax has more than one employee that would need to drive through State A, Ajax would also be harmed by the additional time and cost required for each employee to obtain the permit.  The harm is coming from the government because State A is the entity that passed the law at issue.  Finally, redressability exists because, upon a favorable decision by the court in Ned's and Ajax's favor, Ned can avoid the license requirements and keep his job, and Ajax will not have to incur the expense of ensuring that every employee has such a license.

[Conclusion; short and sweet.:] Therefore, both N and A have standing.


Tie the element with a fact within each sentence and link them with the word "because," "since," or "when." (For the law review nerds, I understand that "since" is temporal, but sometimes you need to use commonly perceived synonyms.  This is particularly true when you need to use "because" more than once in the same sentence, which looks and reads absurd.  It's the bar, not law review.  If you aim for perfect, it may lead you into troubled waters with more time wasted on unnecessary editing.)

The second time I took the bar, I had a real problem with writing without using the word "because" in the right way. Example:

[EXAMPLE OF WHAT **NOT** TO DO:]

THEFT

Theft is the taking and carrying away of the personal property of another with the intent to permanently deprive.

Here, Ned was in Charlie’s place and took a box from inside, so he took someone else’s personal property.  He intended to permanently deprive, likely, because he brought his own briefcase and placed the box inside with a lock on the briefcase.  Afterwards, Ned carried it outside of the apartment.

Therefore, Ned committed theft.


I mean, that is just AWFUL!  I wasn't doing a good job at tightly discussing the facts relative to the corresponding element.  Hell, sometimes I left the element out completely!  I think I figured that, as long as I caught the fact that addressed the element, it would be ok.  Well, I was wrong.  Wrong, wrong, wrong.

I was just sort of going in order of the elements listed in my rule statement.  This is bad.  It shows the examiners that you don't really see what is important.  In theft/larceny, the big issue is whether you can clearly demonstrate INTENT to permanently deprive.  This will require a discussion... meaning, more than one sentence.  What I probably should have written (without looking back at the fact pattern) is the following:


LARCENY

Larceny is the trespassory taking and carrying away of the personal property of another with the intent to permanently deprive.  In most jurisdictions, larceny is considered a felony, but some jurisdictions consider it only a misdemeanor. [NOTE! I don't even know if this is true, but chances are, there is at least one piddly jurisdiction out there that punishes larceny as a misdemeanor.  If you think that there MIGHT be a jurisdictional issue, but if you can't remember what specific type of jurisdiction holds which way, I suggest that you write something like, "some jurisdictions ________, whereas other jurisdictions ________."]

Here, Ned committed a larceny because he intended to permanently deprive Charlie of his box (personal property) when he placed the box inside of his own briefcase and headed toward the door to leave.  Also, Ned likely intended to do so at the time of entering Charlie's home because he had brought his own briefcase, which was probably intended for putting the box in; this demonstrates aforethought to take Charlie's box away from his home.  Ned probably intended to permanently deprive Charlie of the box because he believed that it contained something valuable that Ned wanted for himself, as he told Judy.  This taking was trespassory because Charlie did not give him permission to take the box.  Once Ned left, he had completed the crime because exiting was a carrying away of the box.

Therefore, Ned has committed larceny and should be found guilty.  In most jurisdictions, he will have committed a felony.


Do you see the difference?  Do you see the "because" in each and every sentence of the application section as it ties an element to the key fact or set of facts?  "Since" and "when" are also used to link the elements to the facts when I have already used "because" in the same sentence.

Also notice that the first few words in the application basically conclude as to which way the ISSUE concludes and links that to the dispositive element along with the key fact.  This, I think, is probably the most important part of my entire diatribe here.

Is the example above grammatically perfect?  No.  Did I end a sentence using a preposition?  Yes.  Do I write like this practice?  No.  But this is the bar, people, and you need to get through it in top speed, so get your heads out of the black hole of perfection.

Oddly enough, I don't think I wrote that badly on my law school exams.  I think that I thought that the bar was so very different and that the approach was a mystical thing to try and figure out.  To an extent, this is true.  However, it is also true that my "theft" example from above would be horrendous for any law school exam, let alone the bar!  I also think that examples from *some* courses do not spell this out explicitly.  The instructors do not say, "Hey!  Here's what to do." or "Hey!  Don't do that!"  Maybe it's because they assume that you should know better from law school.  This may be true.  However, for the bar, I was so nervous and literally wiped my "learning-how-to-do-legal-writing" slate clean.

This, of course, was a grave mistake.  In the end, I re-learned what I wiped clean.  And this is how I passed.


SUMMARY:

1) Get help with the baby so that you can focus as much of your time as humanly possible on the bar.

2) Better to spot all of the in-your-face main issues (and possible defenses) and to take the time to really discuss those thoroughly and properly than to spot every feasible issue out there with mere superficial discussion.  [Ignore people who talk about how brilliant they are that they found some minor, ridiculous issue.  I promise, it's worth 0 points.  This is especially so if that person failed to fully discuss the big stuff.]

3) Attempt to make your rules at least a tiny bit more sophisticated than a list of elements.

4) Write the application section the way I discussed above.  Use "because," "since," and "when."  Begin your application by concluding on the issue and linking that to the dispositive element with the key facts.

5) Don't forget to actually conclude on every issue.

6) Bonus tip:  I never underlined anything on my passing bar exam.  That nonsense just took up too much of my time.  Instead, if I felt like something was super important, I would use all caps.  This saves on time and potential frustration.


I cannot imagine how long this response is going to look once I post this.  Regardless, I really do hope this helps you or someone else out there.

:D,

Jessie

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

How I Passed the California Bar Exam (CBX)

I just received an awesome comment by an anonymous person on a blog that I am deciding to delete ("What I Should Have Done the First Time I Took the CA Bar").  I am deleting that video because I recorded it regarding the preparation for my second attempt at the bar, before learning of my results.

Now, that I have passed, I believe I'm in a better position to adequately respond the the kind comment by Anonymous, which stated:

"Hi Jessie, I once read your ask why twice article a while back while I was in law school. Coincidentally, I found you in the comments from Grand Poobah's blog. I really like your writing style. You have a very clear thought process. Congrats on the bar exam. I hope you will tell us about what you did this time around. You should definitely blog about being a practicing lawyer when you get sworn in, too. It's tough out there (in the job market)."

Awwww!  :D

So, without further ado, here is my blog about precisely what I did to pass the California Bar Exam -- the beast that it is.

Note: Yes, there are in fact 3 videos here.  The total investment time in watching these is about 35 minutes.  I believe, however, that (especially for repeat bar takers) this could very well resonate with you, and, similar to my other law blog entries, help clarify the "how" part of the exam.  Also, if you want tutoring info, click here for my post on that.



And why is it, by the way, that all video thumbnails suck so badly???  Ah, well.  Here are some links to the books/products/information that I used and recommend:




Also, one keeper tidbit of info from the blog entry that I'm deleting must survive: Here's the link to a New York Times article about a recent study that just came out in Science in January 2011.  It was conducted at Purdue.  The conclusion of the study is in the  title of the NYT article: To Really Learn, Quit Studying, and Take a Test.

Since posting this, a lot of people have asked me about tutoring for the CBX.  Please see my post on that issue here if you want some guidance.

Good luck, everyone!  I know you can do it! :D

Friday, November 26, 2010

How to Get Published & Why It Matters

Whether you're on a law journal or not, having a publication can be a real boon to any resume.  Nearly all law schools require a writing component, where you have to take a paper course.  There's no reason that you shouldn't be able to take that paper and publish it.  I'm convinced that I landed some of my most prestigious law school internships from my publications, not my GPA.

A publication really sets you apart.  Most law students have not published anything.  Ever.  So, when a perspective employer sees "PUBLICATIONS" as a category on your resume, he/she will likely be impressed and curious.  That's a good thing.

Note: This blog entry is NOT about how to write a publish-worthy piece.  Rather, this blog assumes that you have written something excellent and explains the process of getting that fabulous piece of work published.

You are going to need to know how to do the following:
  • develop good key words
  • write an abstract... a good one
  • write a cover letter for law journals in which you want to get published
  • create a CV (curriculum vita)
  • submit all of these things together with your paper
At the outset, know that a paper submitted for publication by a student is called a comment, not an article.  This is specific to the legal field.  In non-law academia, all published pieces are called articles.  Also, when you refer to your own comment, whether in an abstract or in the paper itself, you will capitalize the word "comment."  Ex: This Comment seeks to explore blah, blah, blah.

Key Words:
Key words are important because they help future scholars find your article.  There are certain DOs and DO NOTs associated with creating key words.  Let's begin with the DO NOTs.

DO NOT use the same words that appear in your title.  This creates a redundancy.  When people search for certain key terms, of course words that appear in your title will come up in that search.  Therefore, you want to make your key words work for you in case somebody is trying to find a paper like yours but has not used words in your title.

DO think of synonyms for words in your title.  Also, think of the type of law you are discussing in your paper.  If you have written about an entity, you'll want to use that as a key word.  Finally, if you discuss an important piece of legislation not mentioned in your title, use that.

One key word can actually consist of more than one word.  I know this seems confusing, but it's true.  So, for instance, here is a title of a paper, and here is a list of key words (usually, you want 5-8 key words):

Title: Mass Meat Consumption, Human Rights, and Animal Welfare: An Alternative Appeal to Limitative Federal Legislation


Key Words: food, water, environment, property, EPA, Declaration of Human Rights, NAFTA


Abstract:
The abstract appears at the beginning of your paper, under the title, and before the Table of Contents.

Its purpose is to act as an extremely concise synopsis of your entire paper.  Typically, journals limit the number of words that an abstract can contain.  Law journals usually place this limit at 200 or 250 words, so there's no room to mess around.  Here's how to do it:

Goal:
The first sentence literally states the goal of the paper in non-b.s. terms.  By that, I mean you must flag for the reader that you're talking about the goal of your paper.  How do you do this?  Simply write, "The goal of this paper is to . . . "  That's it.  If you prefer some kind of synonym to the word "goal," like "purpose," fine.  But just get to it, and do that in the first sentence.

Ex. (taken from a different paper than the one I listed under Key Words): This paper sets out directive arguments based upon international treaties as well as a combination of U.S. and Indian law for the impending Indian Supreme Court decision that will determine the extent to which corporations’ water rights may impose upon basic human rights to potable water.

Background:
The second sentence should explain briefly some facts about the issue that your paper is addressing.  If the issue is controversial, you can use the next sentence to demonstrate the facts of the other side of the story.  This will show the reader that you can be objective, and this makes you a more trustworthy author.

Ex.: Companies like Coca-Cola, which rely upon access to an abundance of water for their products, have set up factories in India and provide employment for nearby residents. On the flip side, an Indian appellate bench sacrificed a community’s access to water for Coca-Cola’s absolute property rights.

The next few sentences--tops--should discuss, in order, the effects/implications and the current state of the legal matter (whether the legal matter you're addressing is a law, a case, or whatever).

Ex.: As a result, Indian women, with whom many societies charge the daily procurement of water, must travel farther and farther to fetch the family water. The effects of Coca-Cola’s water extraction have caused political uproar within and across Indian communities. Now, the Indian Supreme Court must decide whether companies like Coca-Cola retain absolute rights to any and all water beneath their real property; the fates of companies like Coca-Cola and communities’ livelihoods rest in the Court’s  hands… and there the decision has rested for years.

The "So What?" Factor:
Explain in one sentence why your issue matters.  Is there a separation of powers issue?  Will the resolve or lack thereof forever change employment law?  Tell me: Why does your paper legally matter?  

Ex: This case may spur international movement either toward or away from multinational corporations’ absolute property rights in the face of thirsting and drought-affected communities worldwide.

The Normative Factor/Conclusion:
In one sentence, tell the reader what "should" be done and why.

Ex.: The Indian Supreme Court should rely upon CEDAW, the CRC, its Constitution, court precedent, and the public trust doctrine in order to both satisfy its international obligations to provide its communities with water and avoid judicial activism.

Cover Letter:
Very similar to my other post about cover letters for jobs, this kind of cover letter also serves a very specific purpose.  Therefore, each paragraph has its own particular goal.

You want this cover letter to be SHORT!  Otherwise, the very busy editor is not going to want to bother reading your cover letter.  S/he is busy.  If you can't demonstrate what your paper is about and why it matters in 3 short paragraphs, the editor will likely safely assume that you can't write very well to begin with.

First Paragraph:
I call this the "Why You?" paragraph.

The whole basic point of the first paragraph is to introduce your paper and say that it's nuanced.  The journal, frankly, does not give a damn about your paper if there's nothing nuanced about it.  If you don't know whether or how your paper is nuanced, you should think about that.  I mean, really.  What makes your paper different from all of the other ones out there?  Only you can come up with that.

So, your first paragraph should contain: 
  • the title of your paper (in proper Bluebook format)
  • the statement that it's nuanced
  • the legal topics that your paper covers
Ex.: My article, Mass Meat Consumption, Human Rights, and Animal Welfare: An Alternative Appeal
to Limitative Federal Legislation, presents several nuances to the fields of human rights, animal
welfare, and environmental law.

Note: I referred to the paper as an article because it had not been published yet, so I didn't want to call it a comment.  Plus, "article" is more scholarly than "paper."  I also didn't capitalize "article" because this is a cover letter, not the paper itself or the abstract.

Second paragraph:
I call this the "Prove It" paragraph.  In other words, sure, it's easy to summarily claim that your paper is nuanced, but now you're going to have to prove that.

I think that the easiest, clearest, and most concise way to do this is to draw the reader's attention to 3 points regarding why your paper is different than everything else out there.  I do this by using the words "first," "second," and "third."  It's that simple.

Ex.: First, though most animal rights/welfare articles speak to atrocities inflicted upon animals, my article recognizes that such appeals fail to spur federal legislative action. Second, my paper presents an alternative approach—a human rights approach—to support arguments for limitations on mass meat production and importation, which would at once effectively reduce animal torture, at least  quantitatively, and improve human rights by reducing instances of starvation, environmental degradation, and drought. Third, the article argues that Congress both may and should legislate mass meat production/importation limitations; these powers should not be left to the states.

The Third Paragraph:
I call this the "Why Them" paragraph.  Now, here's where you need to be a little creative.  After all, you probably don't have time to research every journal in order to discover why they are special.  Moreover, to increase your likelihood of getting your piece published, you're going to want to mass-submit this thing.  I refer to this as the shotgun approach.

So, how do you make the editor of the journal feel like you really want to submit to their law journal, even while you submit your paper to perhaps dozens of places?  Well, you do this by including the following in your paragraph:
  • these words: opportunity, future dialogue, and intersections (if your paper discusses more than one area of law and/or policy)
  • the legal topic(s) that your paper address(es)
Every journal wants to believe that they, too, are nuanced and produce interesting stuff.  That's why you tell them that you know their journal presents that possibility, even if you don't actually know that.  They want to believe that this is true because it adds prestige to their journals.

Ex.: I have chosen to submit my paper to your journal because it provides an ideal forum for my article’s subject matter through opportunities for future dialogue regarding the intersections of human rights, the environment, and animal law.

Add a final "Thank You" paragraph, and you're done!  :)

CV:
A CV is very different than a resume--especially a legal resume that remains only one page in length for a few years.  Unlike a resume, a CV includes everything you've ever done.  Really.  Throw it all in.  Even the kitchen sink.

You want to have the header match that of your cover letter.  Consistency is always very important.

A CV might include the following categories in, more or less, this order:

Education
Publications
Works in Progress
Presentations
Legal/Teaching/Research Experience
Academic Honors, Programs, & Scholarships
Community Service
Professional Affiliations
Research Interests
Foreign Languages

Everything under each category should be in reverse chronological order.  

Do NOT include anything non-legal or non-academic.  Everything should at least tentatively relate to law or scholastics.  Because political events and policy issues relate to scholastics, those things are okay.

Also, do NOT double-dip, meaning don't place one activity in more than one category.  For instance, if you received an award for volunteer work, place that under either "Awards" or "Community Service" but not both.  I would choose the most prestigious category in that instance, which would be Awards.

If you need more guidance with a CV, go here.

Submission:
This is the easiest part.  Go to UC Berkeley's submission site.  It's called ExpressO.  There is a large "Start Your Submission" button in the upper right-hand corner.  Start there.

Simply follow the instructions thereafter.  There will be places for you to enter your Key Words, your Abstract, your Cover Letter, your CV, and your paper.

The beauty of ExpressO is that you can shotgun your paper to a ton of journals at once.  You can do so by category (i.e., top 50 journals, all IP journals, etc.) by simply checking the box next to all of the journals to which you want to submit your paper. 

Warning!  Don't submit your article to journals that indicate that they are "closed to students."  Otherwise, frankly, you look like a dumb-ass who can't even follow directions.


WHEW!  That was a LOT to write.  I hope that it helps y'all out.