Founded in 1942, the NYU Annual Survey of American Law, NYU’s second-oldest legal journal, is a quarterly publication dedicated to exploring contemporary developments in all areas of American law, including significant recent court decisions, legislation, and legal movements. In addition to publishing articles by prominent scholars and jurists, the Annual Survey is proud to feature Notes written by members of the journal.
The Annual Survey publishes several unique issues each year that help to develop and deepen contemporary understanding of legal developments and influential figures in American law. Each year, the journal sponsors a symposium that brings eminent scholars and advocates to the Law School and publishes a special issue of the journal featuring articles arising out of the symposium. This year’s symposium focused on Election Law, examining recent developments in campaign finance, partisan redistricting, and voting access and integrity. Past symposia have analyzed current issues in constitutional law and foreign policy; reparations law (co-sponsored with BALSA); environmental law; hate crimes legislation; poverty law; affirmative action; education law; media law; church-state separation; technology and evidence law; and federalism’s intersection with immigration policy. Other issues of the journal include a survey of legal developments in the preceding year and an issue devoted primarily to student writing.
In the spring, the Annual Survey dedicates a volume to a preeminent jurist, scholar, or legal practitioner. The dedicatee is personally honored in a ceremony and dinner attended by all journal members, and an Annual Survey issue features tributes and scholarship on the dedicatee’s achievements and contributions to American law. This year, we are honoring Associate Justice Stephen Breyer of the U.S. Supreme Court. Past dedicatees include President Herbert Hoover; Supreme Court Justices Harry Blackmun, William Brennan, Thurgood Marshall, John Paul Stevens, Sandra Day O’Connor, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and Antonin Scalia; Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton and George Mitchell; Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Dr. Alexander Boraine of South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission; Attorney General Janet Reno; Professor Ronald Dworkin of NYU School of Law; Professor Laurence Tribe of Harvard Law School; and NYU President and former Dean of NYU School of Law John Sexton.
Organization of the Journal
The Annual Survey has approximately 80 members, including a 17-member editorial board, approximately 16 third-year Articles Editors, and about 44 second-year Staff Editors. Staff Editors perform significant editorial work, screen article submissions, check articles for substantive accuracy and writing style, and proofread pieces at various stages of the journal production process. In addition, every journal member is encouraged to write an article of publishable quality. The Annual Survey gives all of its members an excellent chance of seeing their work in print. There is no required “Annual Survey format”, and we do not have a preferred ideological slant or subject matter. Instead, we seek well-written, critical analyses of any topic in contemporary American law. We ensure the quality of contributions by assisting staff members in selecting topics, developing arguments, and editing drafts of their Notes.
As part of the Annual Survey’s commitment to student-written work, 7-10 Staff Editors participate each year in a Writing Program. This program is for second-year students who are committed to completing a Note by the middle of the spring semester and who want to do so within a structure that provides thorough feedback on a regular basis. Participants work closely with Note Editors to discuss ideas, research, questions, and difficulties they encounter in the writing process. The research and writing schedule is challenging but rewarding. Participation in the program exempts Staff Editors from most standard editorial tasks. Production of a satisfactory note will qualify participants for Note credit, as allowed by School of Law academic regulations. Previous participants have also completed the program with faculty support by writing their Notes in conjunction with directed research, colloquia, and seminars.
Writing Competition and Selection Criteria
The Annual Survey participates in the annual journal writing competition (for detailed information on the competition, click here). Admission to the Annual Survey is based on three factors: writing competition performance, first year grades, and a required personal statement of no more than 500 words. Writing competition performance includes consideration of various criteria including, but not limited to, accuracy of citations, novelty of ideas, writing style, clarity of writing, and grammar. Although the three factors (writing competition performance, first year grades, and personal statement) are not necessarily given the same weight, each factor plays a significant role in determining admission for every candidate. Applicants should use the personal statement to discuss anything they feel may be relevant to our selection process including, but not limited to, aspects of personal identity; their experience with writing, research or editorial work; or particular interest in the Annual Survey. The Annual Survey is committed to selecting a talented group of staff editors which reflects a broad range of backgrounds, experiences, and interests at NYU School of Law. Candidates are encouraged to use the personal statement to discuss any factors which speak to these considerations.
Students who accept offers to join the Annual Survey may then apply to participate in our Writing Program. Students who believe they are especially interested in participating in the Writing Program are encouraged (but not required) to identify that interest very briefly in their personal statements. This expression will not have a bearing on whether Annual Survey extends an offer to join the staff; it will serve only to assist us in planning.
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