It’s the season for transitions at Harvard Law – in the last few weeks, both the Legal Aid Bureau and the Harvard Law Review have elected new leadership. Over at Gannett House, the Law Review’s 122nd president was 2L Robert “Bob” Allen, a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Emory University and a Sears Prize winner. No surprise there, as the journal’s 120th and 121st presidents, Brian Fletcher and Aileen McGrath, were also Sears winners. The Record had a few questions for the new president.
Record: How’s the transition been? What’s involved in taking the reins of the law review?
Allen: The transition has been very smooth. Luckily, I have some great mentors in Andrew Crespo, Adam Jed, and Andrea Paul, the President, Vice-President, and Managing Editor of Volume 121.
Last year when I came in to interview then-new-president Andrew Crespo, there were bumper stickers in Gannett House that said “Obama was already president. Harvard Law Review.” Is it Obama-mania right now in Gannett, and are you a fan, or more of a Hillary or McCain guy?
There are still some “Obama was already President” stickers strewn around Gannett, but those were meant more for laughs than votes. I wouldn’t classify the Review as biased towards any particular political candidate or even party. I’m not yet sure which candidate I support, and I’m sure some other editors are in the same position.
There’s been some controversy over a case comment on Philip Morris v. Williams in the November issue that had some strong, politicized language about class and poverty. (“The history of the Fourteenth Amendment is one of hierarchy and capitalism.”) Is there an effort to have a uniform tone in comments, and is there any instance where a student piece would be rejected?
All student pieces receive the same editing process, which includes technical and substantive revision. Some uniformity in tone may be a byproduct of our system, but it is by no means a requirement.
It’s been a tradition for law review student writing to carry no name, and when I look at the masthead there’s no listing of who is articles editor, comment editor, etc. Yet students list comments or book reviews, etc. on their resumes, and obviously you have differentiated jobs. Why not just put names with efforts like every other journal on campus?
You are correct that our student writing is anonymous and that our masthead does not list editors’ positions. We do this not to be different but simply to reflect the fact that the Review is a collaborative enterprise, and one that could not function without the intense dedication of every one of our editors.
Is there anything new you’re planning in terms of outreach, the law review competition, or the general future direction of the journal?
I can’t say I have any radical changes in mind; the Review has been incredibly successful over the past few years, and my goal is simply to continue its 122-year tradition of excellence by producing the best publication possible.
Why did you want to join the law review as a 1L? What would you like 1Ls to know about HLR as they consider doing the competition or not?
I joined the Review because I wanted to challenge myself, and also because I wanted to be a part of the community. My only advice to 1Ls is to take the competition – it’s worth it.