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Law Students Making a Mark on the Law

Many of us would like to leave a mark on the law -- our own little precedent that in some way, large or small, changes the outcome of a case or the way law is practiced. Many lawyers spend half of their careers or more working to leave that mark, while a very lucky few create that impression in law school. In this post at Volokh, Eugene Volokh carries a brief interview with Janet Hoeffel, author of a very successful student law review. Hoeffel's article,  "The Dark Side of DNA Profiling: Unreliable Scientific Evidence Meets the Criminal Defendant" (Stan. L. Rev. 1990), has been cited by over 25 cases and over 90 academic works. Wow!

Hoeffel is awfully modest about her achievement. For example, of her decision to write the article, Hoeffel (now a law professor at Tulane) says:

I would love to say I had high and mighty goals in mind in my decision to write a Note. Nope. A mere requirement of the Stanford Law Review. I have always been a good worker bee -- I do what I am told. I reach for the next brass ring as I was taught. I published the Note because the Review accepted it and I was flattered.  I have to tell you, though, that the topic was so hot that I completely burned myself out trying to constantly update the article. I skipped class and worked long hours into the night. Again, the ideals driving me were not high and mighty -- mere perfectionism. If I was going to publish it, it had to include every last speck of information out there on DNA, down to the most recent news article. I never in a million years dreamed the article would prove to be so useful.

The article has helped Hoeffel advance her career as well. She became an instant expert on the topic, and as a staff attorney at the Public Defender Service, she did trainings on DNA. And the article helped her get a position as a professor because it was the only piece of scholarship she'd written in 10 years.

Obviously, I'm a major fan of blogs -- but I don't think that even today that a well-written student blog could provide the same basis for success as Hoeffel's article did (though it would be much easier to update!). What's your view -- will blogs eventually replace the importance of the law review article?

Posted by Carolyn Elefant on July 11, 2007 at 05:46 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)


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