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Journal jumps to the top

Undergraduate law journal chosen for national database

"We are really young," said The Dartmouth College Undergraduate Journal of Law (DCUJL) Editor-in-Chief Cortelyou Kenney '05. But at barely three years old, Kenney's publication has already joined the biggest names in the business. The DCUJL has been chosen to join HeinOnline, an award-winning database, along with more than 900 leading legal publications, including the Harvard Law Review, the Yale Law Journal and the Stanford Law Review.

Distributed to law libraries around the world, HeinOnline provides online access to a legal periodical's complete contents, including articles, essays, book reviews, notices, advertisements and all other materials that appeared in its original print version. The full text of student-written articles in the DCUJL will be available to law students and legal researchers. The journal is also available online.

"As far as we know, we are the only legal journal publishing only undergraduate work," said Kenney. Founded in the winter of 2003 by Meg Thering '05 and Joshua Marcuse '04, the DCUJL originally published only articles by Dartmouth undergraduates. As word spread, submissions began to pour in from other schools.

"At least a third of our submissions come from other schools," said Kenney, who spends about 20 hours a week working on the DCUJL. "We seem to be tapping a real need. Undergraduate students want to get published, and we are the best place available. We've published articles from Harvard, Stanford, William and Mary, Dickenson and the University of Iowa. In the current issue, we are publishing three from other schools, four from Dartmouth." Subjects have ranged from the legal status of Internet service providers and frozen human embryos to using trespass laws to regulate environmental pollution.

The small percentage of submissions accepted for publication undergo a rigorous editing and fact checking process by the journal's 16 senior editors and 10 copy editors. Only Dartmouth students can apply for editorial slots, another very competitive process.

"Dartmouth students seem to have more legal knowledge than many other undergraduates," Kenney added. "Many students choose to go to Dartmouth partly for the New Hampshire presidential primary. The primary allows undergraduates to participate at a very high level because New Hampshire is a small state. You can have quite a bit of authority in a critical national election."

Though none of the journal's former editors are old enough to have launched a legal or political career, many are already deeply involved. Kenney has studied human rights in Argentina and Uruguay and served a Washington internship with the Public Defender's office. Her undergraduate thesis focuses on art and literature during Argentina's "Dirty War" of the 1970s and 80s. Following graduation, she will take a year off to work with victims of government torture for legal compensation.

"For me, the role of editor is one of empowering other people," Kenney concludes. "I avoid mandating things. I think the best thing I can do for all the editors is to give them an arena for their own research and good experience editing. I am a big fan of delegating, which can be quite hard, since my own favorite thing is working with the details of articles. But the job of editor turns out to be much more about leadership than legal knowledge. It turned out to be much more human than I expected."

By PETER WALSH

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Last Updated: 12/17/08