Law School student publishing sets new record
Published 12:00 pm Tuesday, April 26, 2016
By Jenny Kate Luster
University of Mississippi
The University of Mississippi School of Law has enjoyed another banner year for student publishing.
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Twenty-eight student members of the Mississippi Law Journal accepted publication offers this spring, with a record 16 of those offers coming from outside journals such as the Gonzaga Law Review, the South Dakota Law Review, the Southern Methodist University Journal of Air Law and Commerce, and the Wake Forest Journal of Law and Policy.
Last year, 10 students published externally, with another 19 publishing with the Mississippi Law Journal.
“I think this success speaks to our students’ abilities,” said Ben Cooper, associate dean for academic affairs. “It is quite an achievement for our students to get their articles published in outside law journals where they are competing with law professors, practicing lawyers and judges for publication slots.”
This publishing success is a direct result of the Mississippi Law Journal’s rigorous comment development program, a writing program for the journal’s second-year members, who must author articles for potential publication as part of their membership on the journal.
The comment program is run by third-year journal members C.J. Robison and Merry Johnson, who serve as executive notes and comments editors. The comment program provides students with structure and guidance from faculty, third-year-law mentors and their second-year peers.
The writing process starts at the beginning of the fall semester and ends in February. Students attend MLJ seminars, discuss paper topics, create outlines, write drafts and finally submit their finished work to various journals. Most students also write in conjunction with writing courses taught by faculty.
The journal’s success in publishing is a testament to the school’s commitment to both teaching and research, Robinson said. Publishing can be a challenge, especially externally.
“A lot of outside journals will not publish student-written pieces” Robinson said. “They want a practitioner or professor.”
“I think our success in publishing is primarily attributable to two factors,” Cooper said. “First, the hard work and dedication of our students. Completing a comment worthy of publication requires a lot of hard work.
“Second, Professor Jack Nowlin’s outstanding and innovative Academic Legal Writing class. Professor Nowlin has put tremendous effort into developing that class and untold hours helping students improve their comments.”
Nowlin, the school’s associate dean and MLJ faculty adviser, heads Academic Legal Writing, a special writing seminar for second-year journal students. Each year, the seminar coordinates with the journal’s comment program, instructs half the journal’s econd-year-law members and helps train students for later third-year editorial work.
Nowlin is a strong supporter of student publishing.
“Student scholarship is very important,” Nowlin said. “It’s a chance as a student to really enter the world of the legal profession and influence law and public policy. And the skills the students learn – research, writing and argument – serve them well for the rest of their careers. The publication credential is also a big help with employment.”
Besides the Academic Legal Writing class, the school offers writing seminars on a variety of other topics such as criminal law, constitutional law, intellectual property, civil rights, international trade and aviation law.
“Our faculty’s dedication to student scholarship has been a major foundation of our success,” Nowlin said.
Cate Rodgers, a second-year law student and new editor-in-chief of the Mississippi Law Journal, is publishing her article with University of Denver’s Transportation Law Journal.
“A publication credential has many benefits,” Rodgers said. “On a personal level, a publication enhances your resume and sets you apart in the job market. There is also a level of prestige attached to an external publication specifically because the student competes on a level playing field with practitioners and professors.”
A list of students who published, with their paper titles and a link to their articles on SSRN, can be found on the Intellectual Life section of the law school website.