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Monday, June 24, 2013

Rethinking the 'Gladiator' Ethos of Law Reviews

GladiatorMegan S. Knize (Editor-in-Chief, UC Davis Law Review, 2007-08), The Pen Is Mightier: Rethinking the "Gladiator" Ethos of Student-Edited Law Reviews, 44 McGeorge L. Rev. 309 (2013):

Law review membership paves the way for prestigious law firm jobs, judicial clerkships, and teaching positions. However, the law review “credential” is not accessible to everyone. This article offers a feminist critique of law review culture by applying Columbia University Law Professor Susan Sturm’s “gladiator model,” which she uses to characterize the culture of law schools, to the culture of law reviews. [From Gladiators to Problem Solvers: Connecting Conversations About Women, the Academy, and the Legal Profession, 4 Duke J. Gender L. & Pol'y 119 (1997).] The model and its accompanying ethos explain how the law review’s focus on individualism works to the detriment of women members and the publishing success of the journal.

After exploring the background of law reviews, presenting the gladiator model, and analyzing the feminist legal theory that challenges the model, I argue that law review culture glorifies the gladiator ethos. Law reviews teach members to behave like gladiators by emphasizing competition over collaboration, prioritizing rules over relationships, and encouraging particularly “masculine” leadership characteristics. Fortunately, there are solutions to temper the pervasiveness of the gladiator ethos. This article recommends that law review editors (1) implement changes to the process of joining law review and the working style of law review, and (2) institute changes to the leadership development opportunities for editors. These measures should benefit all law review members by creating a team-oriented approach to editing and publishing a superior journal.

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