Student Writing

Why Write a Student Note?

To learn how to publish your Note in a NYU Law student journal, check out the Note Pool service.

“It is difficult to overstate the importance of a written paper for a young lawyer’s career, especially if the piece is published.”
Chief Judge Alex Kozinski, US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

There are enormous benefits to completing a substantial writing project—or, as we’ll refer to it here, a student Note—while a student at NYU law. Beyond simply allowing you to fulfill one of your graduation requirements, the Note writing process offers invaluable experience in topic selection, legal research, legal writing, editing, and collaboration with professors and colleagues. Moreover, the finished product serves as a valuable career tool, as many employers—from judges to law schools, public interest organizations to law firms—put great weight on a candidate’s ability to think, write, and edit. These are all skills that are effectively showcased through a polished piece of legal scholarship.

  • Rounding out a legal education: The process of researching and writing a Note can serve as the glue that pulls together the various elements of a legal education. The experience allows students to draw on their education in substantive areas of law, the research and writing skills taught through the lawyering program and throughout the curriculum, and the broader synthesis of ideas and doctrines that run through upper-level courses.
  • Writing skills: Good lawyers must be good writers, and good writers only get that way through practice. Student writers have the rare gift of time and resources: time to run drafts by professors who are experts in the field and by fellow students, and time to put a Note through numerous revisions before submitting it for publication.

Timeline

Many students fulfill their A-paper requirement with a paper written for a seminar. In that case, the student’s schedule may be dictated in part by the preferences of the seminar professor and by the limits of a single-semester time-frame.

What follows is a longer timeline for students who intend to use more than one semester to produce their Note. Students are free, of course, to revise this timeline.

  • August-September: Topic selection, preliminary research
  • October-November: In depth research, refine thesis, produce outline
  • November-January: First draft, additional research
  • January-February: Additional research to fill holes, refine argument
  • February-March: Second Draft
  • March-May: Third Draft

An Important Note About Clerkship Writing Samples

If you intend to use your Note as a writing sample for your clerkship applications, you should be sure to adjust this timeline to ensure that you to have a clean, polished draft to submit to your faculty recommenders well before your clerkship applications are due. Under NYU’s current clerkship application schedule, this means you should have a polished piece of writing to submit to your professors by early July of the summer before your 3L year. If you are applying to judges who hire earlier in the process, you will need to adjust this deadline accordingly.