When you hear the words “law review,” you’re likely to conjure up an image of a bunch of law school students feverishly researching scholarly stories on arcane matters of law. But a newly relaunched undergraduate club, Boston University Pre-Law Review, takes a wider-ranging approach in its coverage of legal issues with the goal of reaching as large an audience as possible. Published once a semester, the current edition of BU Pre-Law Review is now available for free at venues across campus.
While the majority of the BU Pre-Law Review (PLR) staff writers do plan to go on to law school, its secretary and copy editor, Ryan Knox (SAR’16), says that all readers, from legal scholars to people whose knowledge of the law is based largely on reruns of Law & Order, will enjoy reading the magazine. “The purpose of the publication is to foster awareness and provide commentary on major issues facing the law and the legal profession,” he says. “It makes this information accessible to the BU community as a whole. I firmly believe that everyone should have at least a basic understanding of the law and of the legal principles behind current social, political, and economic issues. The law is more than dusty old documents. It is living, breathing, and intended to help society.”
That ethos is reflected in the just-published issue, which contains nearly three dozen articles and essays that explore how the law impacts and is impacted by current events in areas including civil rights, finance, technology, public health, and education. While most of the articles tackle serious legal and social issues—such as a recent Massachusetts ruling on “buffer zones” around abortion clinics or the debate over affirmative action in the college admissions process—others focus on subjects you won’t find in a traditional law review, such as the daunting process of preparing for and taking the LSAT or the trustworthiness of Yelp reviews.
Merissa Pico (COM’15), the publication’s editor-in-chief, explains that the variety of topics covered by staff writers not only makes the PLR more exciting to read, but helps to challenge misconceptions about what the law entails. “I think the magazine provides great insight into how many different fields of law there are,” she says. “The articles provide really in-depth coverage and help get rid of the myth that the law is only about criminals and murderers. The law is a diverse field, and it has an impact on our daily lives.”
After the previous executive board of the Boston University Pre-Law Review allowed their status as a club to lapse during the fall of 2013 (the club traces its origins to 1991), Pico took it upon herself to reestablish the club the following spring. She had to not only refile the necessary paperwork but also quickly find new board members and staff writers in order to get out a new edition before the end of the spring 2014 semester.
And she was adamant that she didn’t want to simply reestablish the club. She wanted to revamp the magazine so that all students, regardless of whether they study the law, would enjoy it. Pico and the rest of the newly appointed executive board set about redesigning the magazine so that its content and aesthetics were more appealing. Those changes are reflected in the new edition. The board has also sought to enhance the club’s online presence: in addition to having its own website, it can be found on Twitter and Facebook.
The publication accepts submissions throughout the year. All essays, according to the club’s website, “must be objective and cover both sides of the issue at hand.” PLR editors reserve the right to edit submissions, but send edited work back to authors for approval. The staff also reserves the right not to print submitted work. Editor Hannah Fikar (CAS’15) says that having a variety of perspectives enhances the magazine.
“I hope readers see the diversity in stories and in the voices behind them,” she says. “So many amazing people contribute to the magazine in one way or another, and it really shows. Everyone gets to express their interests and ideas and everyone else listens, and I think that’s really cool. We get to pick our own topics so people really get into their research and their writing and are really passionate about their articles. I hope people can see that genuine interest.”
The BU Pre-Law Review is available now throughout the Charles River Campus. Copies of the magazine can be picked up at the College of Communication, 640 Commonwealth Ave.; the College of Arts & Sciences, 685-725 Commonwealth Ave.; Sargent College, 635 Commonwealth Ave.; the School of Education, 2 Silber Way; and the Pre-Professional Advising Office, 100 Bay State Rd., Room 428.
Samantha Pickette can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.