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Information and FAQs for Georgetown 1st Years

The 2017 Write On Competition, mandatory for all first-year students seeking membership on a law journal, is scheduled to begin at 9:00 a.m. EDT on May 19, 2017.

The Office of Journal Administration (OJA) oversees the annual Write On competition. Participating students who wish to compete must purchase the rights to the online competition packet. The competition packet is a closed packet: students participating in the competition may only consult the packet materials (and the Bluebook) while writing their own competition paper. The materials include cases, scholarly commentary, and popular commentary. Some journals may also require a separate "personal statement" in which the candidate describes how the journal might benefit from his or her membership.

Although the competition itself does not begin until May 19, students will be able to purchase rights to the competition packet through the Write On website beginning on or about May 12, 2017. Once a student purchases these rights, he or she will receive a "Packet ID" number. This number, along with an "Exam Number" assigned to all first-year students by the Registrar's Office, will serve to identify competitors in the otherwise anonymous competition.

Beginning on May 19, participating students may log on to the Write On website to examine and download the competition material. The website will remain open until 8:00 p.m. EDT on June 1, 2017. At that point, participants will need to have completed and returned their competition papers to the Office of Journal Administration and the competition will be considered closed.

Students will be able to preference journals when the competition opens; the preferencing part of the Write On site will remain open through mid-July so that students may take their first-year grades into account.

Results should be announced in early August, 2017.

How many journals can I try to join?

  • There are currently 13 separate law journals published at Georgetown Law: Georgetown Law Journal, American Criminal Law Review, The Tax Lawyer, Georgetown Journal of Legal Ethics, Georgetown Journal of International Law (formerly Law and Policy in International Business), Georgetown International Environmental Law Review, Georgetown Journal on Poverty Law and Policy, Georgetown Immigration Law Journal, Georgetown Journal of Gender and the Law, Georgetown Journal of Law & Public Policy, and Georgetown Journal of Law & Modern Critical Race Perspectives. The Journal of National Security Law & Policy joined Georgetown in 2012, and is published jointly with Syracuse University. The Food & Drug Law Journal joined Georgetown in 2015, and is published jointly with the Food & Drug Law Institute.

  • Participants in the Write On competition indicate the journal(s) for which they wish to be considered by ranking those journals on the preferencing section of the Write On website. The preferencing area of the website will be open May 19th through mid-July, 2017 (deadline will be announced via e-mail).

  • Each journal will announce its criteria before the start of the competition. For example, the Georgetown Law Journal will only consider students who preference it as their first choice. For more detailed information that may be useful while you are preferencing the journals, please download the 2017 Journals Comparison Chart here (PDF).  Please see the question below, “Are there any strategies I can follow to increase my chances of being accepted to a journal?” for tips on preferencing.

  • Please attend one of the Journal Town Hall meetings this spring for more details. The dates of the Town Hall meetings are (1) April 4 following Professor Barnett's Constitutional Law class and (2) April 5 at 3:30 in Hart Auditorium. You can listen to a recording of the 2017 town hall here.

What does the competition require me to do?

  • The Write On competition requires you to write a case comment using only materials provided in the online packet, available from the site for $40. You must also complete a bluebooking test, and some journals require the completion of separate personal statements.

  • For a set of sample instructions and a list of the materials from a previous competition, please see here. Please note that these instructions are provided for informational purposes only and are subject to change.

  • During the Write On competition period, students must rely entirely upon the materials provided in the packet, plus the following sources: a dictionary, a law dictionary, a thesaurus, and the Twentieth Edition of the Bluebook. Students may not refer to any materials during the Write On period unless those materials are included as sources in the packet. Students may neither discuss the contents of the packet with anyone during the Write On period, nor may they receive editing or proof-reading assistance from anyone else. While writing, students may use a spell-check and grammar-check program as these programs are widely available.

How long will I have to complete the Write On?

  • The Write On packet is designed to be completed in five to seven days. The competition, however, runs for longer — from May 19 to June 1, 2017. This period includes two full weekends. Your completed packet must be returned to OJA by the deadline. The Competition database will close at 8:00 p.m. EDT on June 1, 2017. The Office of Journal Administration strongly advises competition participants to upload their completed papers early, in anticipation of potential server problems. Should a participant find him/herself unable to upload his/her paper, he/she may send it via FedEx, UPS, or Registered US mail; however, the paper will be considered late if it is sent after the 8:00 p.m. EDT deadline. Papers sent on the due date must be time- and date-stamped. Please note: FedEx and UPS do not actually stamp a time on your package; however, when they scan your package into their computer the time and date are recorded. Therefore, you must take your package to a UPS or FedEx office. Do not utilize a drop box unless you are certain the box will be collected and its contents scanned prior to the deadline. If you are mailing your paper from another time zone be sure you meet the Eastern Daylight Time (UTC -4) deadline. This means that it must either be hand-delivered to OJA, uploaded to the website, or postmarked and shipped via Federal Express or UPS by 8:00 p.m. EDT on June 1, 2017 in order to be accepted into the competition. Should you wish to hand-deliver your packet, please contact OJA in advance to make arrangements.

Do I have to be in DC to participate in the Write On?

  • No. The Write On competition is run entirely through the competition website, which you can access through the OJA website. When you complete your packet, you have the choice of uploading your completed paper to the competition website, hand-delivering it to OJA, or sending it via Fed Ex, UPS, or any other shipping company that time- and date-stamps its packages. Should you wish to hand-deliver your packet, please contact OJA in advance to make arrangements.

Who judges the Write On papers?

  • The judges are rising third-year staff members from each law journal. Each paper is read by three different judges, each from a different journal. The judges score each paper on qualities such as analysis, structure, and creativity, and enter their scores directly into the Write On database.

Is my paper score made public?

  • OJA does not release Write On paper scores to anyone. Editors and judges will only be able to identify individual papers by their packet number. The competition is completely anonymous.

How does the Write On system match me to a journal?

  • Once your paper has been scored by three judges, the averages of those scores are used to generate a final paper score. Your Bluebook score is added to the paper score, and then the score is scaled to produce a final Write On packet score. This Write On packet score is combined with a score based on your grades. In addition, some journals will factor in your personal statement score. The total of these scores is your raw score. Your raw score, however, will probably be different across several journals, since the journals weigh the various components of the score differently. For example, one journal might value the paper score at 50 percent of the total raw score and your grades as the other 50 percent. Another might break the total raw score down as 40 percent paper, 40 percent grades, and 20 percent personal statement. Please see the journal comparison chart and consult the individual journal letters to determine how each journal weighs the various elements.

  • The system first attempts to place everyone on their first-place journal, then on their second-place journal, and so on until all the journal slots are allocated.

How will I know if I made it onto a journal?

  • Once the final matching is run by OJA, results will be available on the Write On website. All Write On participants will receive an email alerting them that final results are available. We plan to announce results in early August.

Why don't you announce the results earlier? I want to take my journal membership into account in the Early Interview Week bidding process, and I want to put my journal membership on my resume before the EIW upload deadline.

  • We have chosen our release date based on when the Office of Career Services schedules EIW. Given the size and complexity of the competition - including the number of judges involved, most of whom are not in DC and many of whom are abroad - we have found it difficult to release results early enough for all students to have an opportunity to update their resumes for EIW. Releasing our results early enough to give all students time to take their journal membership into account in the bidding process is also an impossibility, since to be fair to all students who are participating in EIW, we would need to release the results in early July. Such an early date would shorten the time we give judges to evaluate the papers and would leave no room for unexpected circumstances.

  • Since EIW interview slots are assigned in a lottery system and employers have no opportunity to accept or reject interview candidates based on the content of resumes, a student's journal membership is not relevant for employers until the time of the screening interview. Finally, employers ask for an updated resume at the screening interview, so participants in EIW have ample opportunity to communicate their journal membership to prospective employers.

Is it possible for me to make it onto more than one journal?

  • We will match you to one journal. If, after being offered membership, you decide that you do not wish to be a member of that journal, you may decline membership. You will not, however, be offered any other journal memberships. This is why you should only preference journals in which you have a sincere interest. Remember as well that journal membership is a two year commitment. Please participate in the competition only if you are willing to commit to journal membership for two years.

What if I'm not matched to a journal? Can I try again next year?

  • Not everyone who participates in the Write On competition will be matched to a journal. There are limited spaces, and the competition for many of them is strong. If you are not accepted to a journal, there is no other opportunity to participate in the Write On competition. It is only open to first-year students who have passed LRW. This restriction ensures a level playing field among participants.

  • Keep in mind, though, that while the resume value of journal membership is certainly great, Georgetown Law offers many other activities that carry equal resume value. Career Services can provide excellent assistance in evaluating non-journal extracurricular options. The NALP guide also offers unique and valuable guidance specific to particular firms.

What if I am an evening student or a joint-degree student and want to defer membership in a journal until the following year?

  • Only first-year students are eligible to participate in the Write On competition. If you are an evening student or a joint-degree student, you may not delay your participation in the Write On competition, although if you are accepted for membership, and the journal consents, you may defer your participation on the journal.

  • If we allowed some students to participate in the Write On after additional coursework or after they have had summer legal experience, they would be in a position of unfair advantage with respect to their co-competitors. Thus, evening students and joint degree students must compete after their first year of law school but may defer membership, if they are offered it, for one school year.

  • If you plan to defer membership on a journal, please notify the Office of Journal Administration before the preferencing deadline (TBA, mid-July). Deferral plans will affect neither your score nor how you are placed on a journal. We will use the information solely to facilitate coherent staff planning for the next two years. If you are offered membership and do defer, your slot will be held for you until the following year. If you have any questions about this process, please contact the Office of Journal Administration at lawwriteon@georgetown.edu.

What if I want to study abroad?

  • Because of the time commitment involved in journal membership, participation in study abroad programs may affect your ability to hold editorial positions in your second year of journal membership and in some cases may preclude participation on a journal altogether. Because their editorial processes differ, journals have substantial autonomy in responding to requests for accommodation of study abroad opportunities. Some journals may be more accommodating, and some study abroad opportunities may mesh more easily with journal membership. Please inform yourself about the study abroad policies of those journals you wish to join.

Are there any strategies I can follow to increase my chances of being accepted to a journal?

  • Obviously, the best strategy is to get good grades in your first year and to write the best competition packet that you can. Every journal considers these two components in its ranking of prospective members.

  • You should, however, be honest with yourself about your scores. We extend the preferencing period so that you can take your first-year grades into account in the preferencing process. If, for example, you know that your grades are poor, then it is probably unadvisable to preference as your number one choice a journal that weighs grades as 50 percent of its total Write On score. If you feel that you did not put a much effort into your Write On paper, you probably should not preference as your number one choice a journal that places a high value on the paper score. Remember that all other things being equal, the higher you rank a journal, the more likely you'll be offered membership on it.

  • If you preference journals that require personal statements, be sure to spend time on them. It's easy to create a "boilerplate" personal statement that you can send to each journal after only minor modifications, but this type of impersonal approach will rarely net you good scores. It's a much better idea to personalize each statement for the journal in question. OJA suggests that you write your personal statement at the start of the competition period, before you are heavily invested in writing your case comment. Students are often so tired by the time they finish the case comment that they have little desire to put any more time into crafting original, thoughtful personal statements.

  • Preferencing Tips:

    • You may preference as many or as few journals as you like, but pay attention to your preferencing order
    • Review each journal's preference cutoff in the Journals Comparison Chart
    • Preferencing journals outside of their cutoffs could hurt your chances overall.
      • For example, the Georgetown Law Journal will only consider students who preference it as their first choice, so if you preference it second, you would effectively lose your second preferencing slot
    • The higher you preference a journal, the higher your chances of placing on that journal. The system first attempts to place everyone on their first-place journal, then on their second-place journal, and so on until all the journal slots are allocated
    • Review how each journal weights the three criteria of the competition (packet, grades, personal statement)
    • If a journal weights a "personal statement", make sure to pay attention to what they specifically request in the letter + prompt on the Materials page.
      • Many journals request a required resume and optional personal statement for this criterion. However, if a journal requests only a personal statement, submitting a resume in addition to or instead of the statement will likely hurt your score with that journal.
      • If a journal weights a "personal statement" but you do not upload one, you may still preference that journal. However, your score for that journal will be hurt because you will have a 0 for the weighted "personal statement" criterion, and your chances of placing on that journal might be decreased. To clarify, you must turn in a case comment to remain in the competition;you may not opt to take a 0 for the weighted "Packet" criterion.
      • If you submit a personal statement for a journal, you must also preference that journal within its cutoff to be considered for membership. 
      • If you are not sure at first if you might preference a journal that weights a "Personal Statement", you might wish to submit one anyway. All "Personal Statement" submissions are due with the other competition materials on June 1, 2017 at 8:00 pm EDT. "Personal Statement" submissions will not be accepted after the deadline if you later decide to preference a journal that wants one.
    • We will match you to one journal.
    • If, after being offered membership, you decide that you do not wish to be a member of that journal, you may decline membership. You will not, however, be offered any other journal memberships. This is why you should only preference journals in which you have a sincere interest.
    • You will be able to change your preferences until mid-July, specific deadline TBA. Please make sure that your list is final at that time.
    • If you are applying or have been accepted to a study abroad program, please review the journals' policies on studying abroad before you preference

What if I'm a transfer student? How do I participate in the competition?

  • Transfer students can become journal members. However, they do not participate in the regular Write On Competition. Instead, OJA runs a separate Write On Competition exclusively for transfer students. Each journal reserves spots on its staff for transfer students. Click here for more information about the transfer student Write On competition. If you were admitted too late to participate in the 2016 Transfer Write On, you must participate in the 2017 Transfer Write On.

If I have not passed LRW, may I still compete?

  • Students must complete after their 1L or 1E year. LRW grades are not released until after the Competition period. If a student does not pass LRW, they will be removed from the Competition and are not eligible to compete again. Students who have taken Advanced Legal Research and Writing will not be eligible to compete.

If extenuating circumstances prevent me from completing my first year, may I still compete?

  • Such extenuating circumstances are evaluated on a case-by-case basis. The student, or an administrator acting on behalf of the student, should reach out to OJA as soon as possible (and prior to enrolling in classes when returning to Georgetown) to explore his/her options.

I see that some journals require a resume and/or personal statement. How does that work?

  • Resumes and/or personal statements are to be written and uploaded, like your other Write On Competition materials, during the competition period of May 19 – June 1. Details about the personal statements are included in the letters posted to the Materials page for the relevant journals. Sometimes, the journal will not provide a “prompt”, per se, but will make length and formatting suggestions. In the absence of a specific prompt, you are generally encouraged to write about your experience with or interest in that journal’s topic of focus.

  • As the instructions indicate, we ask that you redact your personal information from personal statements and resumes. Personal information might include:

  • your name and any contact information

  • any positions you hold in Georgetown Law organizations

      • Law Fellows –list but do not identify day or night division

      • RAs – just list that you will be an RA for the summer, not who or what you are working for (e.g., don’t list the ARCP)

  • any awards that would be obviously traceable back to you

  • the name of your undergraduate institution

  • any publication titles and citations

  • the name of your summer firm

  • anything else that would be easily searchable or otherwise common knowledge among the student body

  • Our primary goal is to ensure anonymity in the competition. In cases where the item to be redacted is related to the nature of the journal you’re applying to, we would recommend including a brief note describing the nature of the item. For instance, if your undergraduate thesis is titled, “’Three Things Very Dull Indeed’: Class, Poverty, and Welfare in Jane Austen’s England”, you might need to redact the title but add, “used the novel Emma as a springboard for exploring the pernicious and pervasive problem of poverty in early 19th-century England”.

What is journal? What will I be doing as a journal member?

  • For more information about what journals are and the role students play on them, please see our Journals 101 info sheet. While the responsibilities and time commitment might vary from journal to journal, this document will give you a good general idea of what you might expect.

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