New Harvard Law Review president: no threats, only opportunities online

BY RECORD

Following in the footsteps of President Barack Obama ’91 and many before him, Zachary Schauf ’11 was elected President of the Harvard Law Review on January 30. The Harvard Law Record made its way to Gannett House to discuss all things law review, past and future, with the new editor.

1) You went to college at Stanford, earned a masters degree in England, and worked as a writer and editor in D.C. Now you’ve come to Cambridge. What brought you to Harvard Law School?

I’ve been all over the place, it’s true. To make a long story short, I decided to go to law school because I wanted a career that would be both intellectually challenging and focused on solving concrete problems, and the law seemed like the best fit. As for why HLS, I came because I don’t think there’s a better place to get a legal education. Although people debate the merits of big schools and small schools, I love HLS’s size. The faculty has leading experts in just about every field you can think of, and the students here have done so many impressive things.

2) Rumor has it that you were voted your Section’s ‘Most Likely to be Law Review President.’ That Delphic pronouncement aside, what ultimately encouraged you to run for Review President?

First off, I should say that I was very surprised by that humbling vote of confidence from Section 7, though I was fairly sure that it would jinx me during the write-on competition. In the end, I decided to run because I had such a fantastic experience during my first semester on the Review. We have a very special community, and we have the chance work on the cutting edge of legal scholarship. After getting to know the organization, the choice to get more deeply involved was an easy one.

3) What are your goals as Review President? What lessons did you learn from your predecessor, Joanna Huey ’10?

We’re about to enter our 124th volume, and our biggest goal is to uphold the Review‘s commitment to publishing high-quality, well-edited scholarship. Beyond that, we set our priorities democratically during our transition process, and my role is principally to implement the goals we’ve identified as a class. This year, one of our main goals is to continue to build our online Forum.

Joanna has been a fantastic leader, and incredibly helpful as I’ve been learning the ropes. Joanna — along with the other members of the outgoing leadership team, Colleen Roh ’10 and Chris Bates ’10 — have made the Review a wonderfully welcoming and inclusive community, and I hope that Luke McCloud ’11, Christina Hoffman ’11, and I can build on their success.

4) What have you enjoyed most about your time on the Review?

The Review is a close-knit and supportive group, and it helped ease the transition from 1L year, when almost all your classes are with the same 80 people, to 2L year, when the school becomes a much bigger place. I hadn’t anticipated what a fun place the Review would be. Sure, we do our share of work, but we also have monthly issue parties, heated Wii tournaments, and lots of long conversations over bagels and coffee — sometimes about the law, sometimes about the latest episode of Mad Men.

5) In light of websites like SSRN, academic  blogs touting new and interesting research, and faculty work-shopping trends, much has been said in recent years about the continued relevance of law reviews. What, if anything, can the Review do to stay relevant in the legal community?

I’m confident that the Review will remain an important institution in the legal community for a long time. We sort through thousands of submissions each year to pick 15 or so of the strongest articles, and our track record shows that many of these articles will end up changing the way people think about the law. We also put enormous energy and care into our editing process; I think that our authors would agree that this process makes already strong articles even stronger. And our generalist focus can promote conversations among different specialties that might not happen otherwise. In light of these roles, I think the Review and the trends you mention are complementary rather than conflicting. Of course, we recognize that changes in technology create new challenges and new opportunities. That’s one reason that our online Forum will be a focus over the coming year.

6) What does the Forum entail? Are digital journals, like the new Harvard National Security Journal, the future?

The Forum is principally a way to continue the conversations that begin in the printed journal. We don’t envision it as standing alone. Its focus is on short commentaries that build on the articles we publish in the printed journal, and our hope is to solicit several responses to one article in each issue, and for the responses to come out as close as possible to the article. Because we see the Forum as tightly connected to our regular articles, our commitment to the printed journal remains as strong as ever. Our Forum Chair, Andrew Moshirnia ’10, is working hard to bring these ideas to fruition.

Of course, we’re excited about the growth of student-edited journals, like the Harvard National Security Journal, and it’s great that the digital format lowers the startup costs. They enrich legal scholarship, and they’re great for the HLS community. I think there’s plenty of room for both models to thrive.

7) Last year Joanna noted that the best part of the Review, resume aside, was the Community. What else appeals to you about the organization?

The work we get to do here is really fantastic. On our articles, we get to work with authors who are at the top of their fields. And on our student writing, we’ve got a fantastic group of talented editors with interests that span a huge range of topics. It’s a lot of fun to work with each other to help make our writing better.

8) What should interested 1Ls do to find out more about the Review?

We’ve held a few info sessions so far, and after Spring Break we’ll be holding tip sessions for our write-on competition, which takes place the week after spring exams. If anyone has questions in the meantime, I hope they’ll email me or our Outreach Editor, Beth Newton ’11.

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