Paul L. Caron

Friday, December 8, 2023

Sixteen Law Reviews Join NYU's Call For Compensation For Student Editors

Following up on my previous post, NYU Law Students Demand Compensation For Work On Law Journals:  CUNY Law Review, Demand for Compensation and Call for Solidarity:

The editors of this journal have come together with the editors of journals across the country to demand compensation for the work we do to publish legal scholarship. Our demand rests on one fundamental principle: Uncompensated labor is wrong. In the below, Journal Work Essay, we expand on this argument and present other important supporting principles.

We are all students at institutions that purport to educate in the furtherance of justice. Our journals believe compensated labor is a core tenet of justice, and we hope our schools share this belief. Despite the American Bar Association’s urging for journal members to receive credit or compensation, and despite a growing list of schools who have done so in recent years, many of our institutions remain woefully behind.

We publish this editorial to shed light on how uncompensated labor affects students, journals, the legal industry, and academia. We want to highlight the profound contradictions between the beliefs law schools espouse with respect to justice and diversity and the academic world they have created. At its core, this statement is a call for solidarity and action—from universities, journals, and others. ...

Journal Work Essay
The coordinating, editing, curating, writing, and publishing we do as editors is labor, and much of it goes uncompensated. Even the American Bar Association has recently recognized the injustice of this uncompensated labor, by adopting a resolution at the 2023 Annual Meeting that “urges all law schools to adopt policies . . . to permit students to obtain either academic credit or monetary compensation for their participation as editors of law reviews and other academic law journals.” In other fields, workers or professors do this work for pay. Within legal academia, students who do similar work, for example as research assistants, often receive credit or compensation. Courts across the country cite the product of our labor in their administration of justice. Research services rely on our labor to provide a steady stream of publishable scholarship. Without our labor, legal academia would cease to function, and professors would be unable to publish their articles and meet their tenure requirements. Yet, the legal industry and legal academia fail to recognize much of this essential labor. At almost every school, students are not compensated in any form for the work they do in their first year as journal editors. At many schools, editors never receive any compensation. These law students work for free in exchange for the supposed personal prestige that journals add to resumes, but law schools and professors reap the reputational, professional, and financial advantages generated by our labor.

In addition to our principled commitment to compensated labor, we hold these convictions because uncompensated labor hurts journal workers, students, and the journals themselves. Law students face intense demands on their time and capacity. As journal editors, we either forgo or juggle other academic, professional, and personal opportunities and responsibilities. Journal editors work long hours, often sacrificing time dearly needed for their other responsibilities to meet the needs of their journals. We are expected to balance that workload with clinics, classes, externships, jobs, caretaking responsibilities, personal relationships, and more. We should be compensated for these efforts.

Working as a journal editor prevents students from working to support themselves while in school, and this in turn serves a powerful gatekeeping function in legal academia. Students face a debt crisis, and, in a country that has built its educational system on the profit interests of corporate loan providers and servicers, this reality pushes financially precarious students away from journal work. This leads to less diverse journals turning out blinkered legal scholarship. For students, this means only those who can afford to work on journals are granted the reputational prestige it confers for clerkships,  firm associateships, and other competitive legal positions. The students who do join journals face greater financial burdens, which disincentivizes them from future public interest work. The commitments our universities have made to diversity and inclusion and the public interest are simply irreconcilable with uncompensated labor. 

  • CUNY Law Review
  • Georgetown Environmental Law Review
  • Georgetown Immigration Law Journal
  • Georgetown Journal of Gender and the Law
  • Georgetown Journal of Law & Modern Critical Race Perspectives
  • Georgetown Journal on Poverty Law & Policy
  • Georgetown Law Technology Review 
  • Journal of National Security Law & Policy
  • NYU Environmental Law Journal
  • NYU Review of Law and Social Change
  • Stanford Environmental Law Journal
  • Stanford Law & Policy Review
  • Stanford Law Review
  • UCLA Law Chicanx-Latinx Law Review
  • UCLA Law Disability Law Journal
  • UCLA Law Review 
  • Yale Law & Policy Review

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