A Conversation With the New Law Review President

BY ANDREA SAENZ

I meet up with Andrew Crespo on the Monday morning of President’s Day weekend. Gannett House is pretty dead, but the newly-elected 121st President is there, working in the third-floor office that the former president, 3L Aileen McGrath has just vacated. The previous Saturday, there was a special reception for Crespo in Harvard Square to honor the fact that he is the first Latino to ever be elected to this position. Crespo, a native of Monroe, NY, is of Puerto Rican descent. Media outlets, reporting on his election, keep bringing up another groundbreaking Law Review president, Sen. Barack Obama, who when elected to that job was the first black president of the Review. It appears that the Review is embracing Obama-mania, at least to a point. As I sit down, I notice a red bumper sticker on Crespo’s filing cabinet that reads, “Obama was already President. Harvard Law Review.”

Record: When I came in here last year, they had given Aileen a big vase of flowers. They didn’t give you that, huh?

AC: Oh no, they did. [He points to a large vase of dying roses and birds of paradise on a shelf behind my head.] I thought I’d keep it and they would look cool when they dried, but now they just look…dead.

Record: How has the transition gone?

AC: Good. It’s very fast. I was elected on a Saturday, and Aileen gave me a key to the office the next day. The Law Review is unusual for a journal because we elect the entire board and then there’s an immediate transition. We even pass a new set of bylaws every year, so every year the editors really make the journal their own.I did some work on the March issue, but it’s really the April issue that’s the first one I’m doing a lot of work on. The March issue is going to be really great. We’re doing a retrospective on the career of Judge Posner with some excellent commentary and responses.

Record: What changes is the Law Review planning for next year?

AC: We’re looking to make some changes to our editing process so that it’s better for our outside authors – less harrowing for them! We’re also continuing to put really good pieces up on our online area, the Forum, and looking at what the next step is for that; getting a response piece to every piece that’s in the Review, partnering with Stanford and Yale, looking at how to use that medium well.

Record: How do changes to the Bluebook happen?

AC: Well, we do it with other law reviews, but we kind of run point on making the changes every few years. There’s a big meeting and we figure out what revisions need to be made.

Record: Have you ever thought about putting it online, or on CD?

AC: Yes. That’s come up, and we’re definitely talking about what the next moves should be with the Bluebook and technology.Record: So let’s get to the juicy stuff. Your election’s getting a lot of coverage about you being the first Latino president of the Review. Not only that, you took over from Aileen, who was only the 6th woman to lead the Review. Is something special going on here? Is this a new era for the Review?

AC: Because there was a woman, and then me, right. I don’t know if I would say this is a new era, exactly. There have been minority presidents before. But I think it’s a coming to fruition of things that have been in the works, of past eras where there were major changes in public policy, in social policy, and in law school culture. And I think that’s what we’re seeing now.

Record: Outreach has always been a big issue for the Review, especially how it intersects with diversity. What’s next for the Review in that area?

AC: Outreach is big. I really want to have an organized approach, and get the message out to 1Ls. The message that this is not the HLS of The Paper Chase or One L, that this is not a place where people are going to, you know, steal your books and pop your tires. And Law Review is the same way. I think people think everyone here is a straight A student, that they don’t sleep, and that Law Review is just for people who want to be judges and academics.

Record: And what is it, really?

AC: It’s this tight community of 86 students that work together and become really good friends. I know that these are friendships that I will have for life, and that some of them I wouldn’t have made if I weren’t on Law Review.And there’s a lot of opportunity here for people to do different and interesting things, and I want students from minority communities, different backgrounds to know that, that if you’re interested in doing different things with your law degree, you can do that really well from here.

Record: You just said Law Review isn’t just for future professors or judges. What are your future plans? At least for this summer?

AC: This summer I’m working for the Public Defender Service in D.C. I’m really excited about that.

Record: That’s not what people might expect from the Law Review president. Did you do OCI?

AC: I did, yeah. I interviewed with some firms. And some of them I liked, and I looked at splitting, but then I just didn’t want to have less time with the public defender, so I’m just doing that.I don’t really know what I’m going to end up doing, but criminal defense is something I’m definitely interested in, that I can see myself doing. I do know that I want to clerk, and I’m looking forward to that. I like situations where you have someone you admire and you kind of gather around and learn from that person, and that’s how I see clerking.

Record: So some people have been bringing up the big guy. [I point at the bumper sticker.]

AC: Obama, right. [Laughs.]

Record: How do you feel about that?

AC: Wow. Yeah, everyone brings that up. Asking me if I want to go run for president in 20-whatever. And what I’ve been saying is, if you could see my schedule right now…I’ve been really honored and I have a lot of respect for Senator Obama. But right now…I have a lot of work to do! I’m not thinking about that. I’m just trying to learn this job.

Record: Last question. Here’s your chance to talk to 1Ls. What do you want to say to them?

AC: Right. I want to say that this is a place where there is a mix of perspectives and a mix of backgrounds. It’s a place where 2000 articles pour in with all these new ideas, and you get to go through them and say, wow, this speaks to me, or this is going to have an impact.And you do it with your classmates who will be your friends, and who will go on to do exciting things with their lives. And I’m here to talk to people or answer any questions, because I don’t want there to be mystery around the Review. It’s a great community.

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