The Houston Journal of International Law is led by Executive Board editors and is guided by both an Advisory Board and Faculty Advisors. The Journal selects members after their first year of law school and members serve on the Journal for two years. New members are called Candidates and spend their first year assisting with the Journal’s editorial process, writing casenotes or comments focused on international law, and learning about the Journal. Candidates are then elected to editor positions on the Board of Editors where they serve during the following year. Editors manage all facets of the Journal and are ultimately responsible for the Journal’s success and longevity.
Candidates hone abilities that are attractive to employers and invaluable to practicing attorneys. Each candidate develops research, writing, and editing skills beyond what first-year writing courses teach. Candidates learn invaluable writing and practical experience in making legal arguments about relevant, real-world topics while writing casenotes or a comment. Candidates also have the opportunity to be published and receive a writing award after fulfilling the writing requirement. Throughout their first year on the Journal, candidates also have the opportunity to learn from the Editors. Candidates retroactively receive two hours of academic credit for successful completion of candidacy requirements and election to the Board of Editors. Editors may receive three to four additional credit hours.
Candidates can expect to undertake a variety of activities that not only aid in the development of skills necessary in the legal work environment, but also help the Journal operate and succeed. Candidates engage in the following activities:
- Cite Checks. An invaluable benefit of Journal membership is the opportunity to improve editing and research skills. While under the supervision of a team of editors, candidates work in teams to edit and review articles that will subsequently be published by the Journal. This process provides not only unparalleled practical experience, but also a support system to allow candidates to ask any questions they might have. Candidates receive three cite checks during their candidacy.
- Writing Requirement. Candidates enhance their writing skills through the process of composing a scholarly work of publishable quality. This scholarly work takes the form of either one comment or two casenotes. Candidates have broad discretion with respect to topic selection, as many noteworthy legal topics have international aspects and implications. This freedom facilitates an enjoyable experience from which candidates learn immensely about the legal writing process. In the spring semester, several student-authored pieces are selected for publication in the Journal.
- Member on Duty Hours. As a wholly student-run organization, teamwork is the lifeblood of the Journal. Candidates are required to earn Member on Duty (MOD) hours each semester working in the Journal’s office, during which time they assist with tasks necessary for the Journal’s continued success.
With respect to the editorial process, Editors oversee Candidates and ensure that the Journal publishes flawlessly edited issues. Editors also manage all facets of Journal operations, including planning events, communicating with alumni and practitioners, and managing subscribers. Editors also serve as rich resources for advice and guidance for Candidates. Journal Editors have worked for large and small law firms, judges, corporations, a broad range of government agencies, non-profit organizations, and a variety of other organizations. Editors also have valuable experience and advice with respect to class and professor selection. Editors who serve in a non-editorial role work to organize the Journal’s events and maintain its reputation and standing.
After completion of all prescribed first-year courses, eligible students have the opportunity to become a member of the Journal in any of three ways:
- Grade-On. Students in the top 20% of their first-year class or of their first-year section will automatically receive an invitation to join the Journal. Grade-on invitations are usually sent to eligible students in late May or early June.
- Apply-On. Students in the top 35% of their first-year class, as well as students who have received either an A or A- in either semester of their Lawyering Skills and Strategies course, will be invited to apply for Journal membership. Applications are usually sent to eligible students in late May or early June.
- Write-On. Students in the top 50% of their class may participate in the annual Write-On Competition. There is a separate write-on competition for full-time and part-time students. Transfer students may participate in either. The journals work together to coordinate the write-on competition, so be on the lookout for the relevant Write-On dates released by the journals during the Spring semester.
More information about eligibility, candidacy requirements, and membership can be directed to the Journal’s Candidates Editor.