The irony of trying to write this post about the Notes Writing Program at my journal, the Annual Survey of American Law, during spring semester of my 2L year is that I should be working on my Note!
The Note is kind of like an honors thesis for law students, except everyone has to do it. NYU requires that students “produce an original analytic paper of substantial length (ordinarily at least 10,000 words in length and undergoes a comment and draft process) under the supervision of a faculty member.” The paper “should be thorough, well-written, [and] properly documented, and anticipate and address opposing arguments.” More information here. Similar requirements exist at many top law schools.
Most students take one of two routes to get their substantial writing requirement out of the way: doing directed research under the supervision of a professor, or taking a seminar and writing a slightly longer paper than what’s already required for many seminars. Directed research counts for two credits, while the seminar option counts for one additional credit (on top of whatever the seminar is worth). Prevailing wisdom is that students should at least start their Notes during 2L year.
As a rising 2L last summer, I started working on the foundation of what became my Note during my internship at the New York Public Library. My Note focuses on how public libraries handle issues of patron privacy, and how the public library model could potentially be applied to the broader context of big data.
I’m writing my Note in conjunction with the Advanced Privacy seminar taught by Ira Rubinstein. He made it clear that no extensions will be granted past the end of exams this semester, and I, for one, appreciate the hard deadline! I see plenty of 3Ls who have drawn out their Notes over multiple years, and I don’t want that to be me.
In order to make sure I could meet Professor Rubinstein’s deadline, I decided to apply for the Annual Survey’s Notes Writing Program at the beginning of the year. Many journals offer NWPs to provide additional structure and support during the Note-writing process. NWPs also serve as pipelines for journals to publish student work.
Every other Wednesday for three hours this year, I met with three other 2Ls and our 3L Notes editor to bounce around ideas, write together, and provide feedback on one another’s writing. A draft of my Note is due on April 8, and without the support of my NWP cohort I would be much more stressed about this process!
Next year, I will come full circle and serve as a Notes editor for the Annual Survey. Working with a co-editor, I’ll coordinate the NWP for next year’s 2Ls, and also work with journal members and alumni to develop their Notes for potential publication.
I was a writer for a tech company after college, and I’m happy that writing has remained a big part of my day-to-day during law school. Writing with friends only makes that better!