Composition

The Houston Journal of International Law is led by six Executive Board editors and is guided by both an Advisory Board and a Faculty Board. The Journal selects members after their first year of law school, and members serve on the Journal for two years. New members, called “candidates,” spend their first year assisting with the Journal’s editorial process, writing casenotes or comments focused on international law, and learning about the Journal. During the spring, candidates are elected to an editor position on the Board of Editors, in which they will serve during the following year. Editors manage all facets of the Journal and are ultimately responsible for the Journal’s success and longevity.

Membership Benefits

The abilities that candidates hone are attractive to employers and invaluable to practicing attorneys. Each candidate develops research, writing, and editing skills beyond what first-year writing courses teach. The casenote- and comment-writing process provides candidates with invaluable writing and practical experience in making legal arguments about relevant, real-world topics; this process also provides the opportunity to be published and receive a writing award. In addition, candidates have the opportunity to learn from and ask questions of the editors with whom they will interact. Furthermore, candidates retroactively receive two hours of academic credit for successful completion of candidacy requirements and election to the Board of Editors. Candidates who are elected to the Board of Editors may receive two to four additional credit hours.

Candidates’ Duties

Candidates can expect to undertake a variety of activities that not only aid in the development of skills necessary in the legal work environment, but also help the Journal operate and succeed. Candidates engage in the following activities:

  • Cite Checks. An invaluable benefit of Journal membership is the opportunity to improve editing and research skills. While under the supervision of a team of editors, candidates work in teams to edit and review articles that will subsequently be published by the Journal. This process provides not only unparalleled practical experience, but also a support system to allow candidates to ask any questions they might have. Candidates receive three cite checks during their candidacy.
  • Writing Requirement. Candidates are afforded the opportunity to enhance their writing skills through the process of composing a scholarly work of publishable quality. This scholarly work takes the form of either one 50-page comment or two 25-page casenotes. Candidates have broad discretion with respect to topic selection, as many noteworthy legal topics have international aspects and implications. This freedom facilitates an enjoyable experience from which candidates learn immensely about the legal writing process. In the spring semester, several student-authored pieces are selected for publication in the Journal.
  • Member on Duty Hours. As a wholly student-run organization, teamwork is the lifeblood of the Journal. Candidates are required to earn 25 Member on Duty hours per semester in the Journal’s office, during which time they assist with tasks necessary for the Journal’s continued success.

Editors’ Duties

With respect to the editorial process, editors oversee candidates, ensure that the Journal publishes flawlessly edited issues, and manages all facets of Journal operations. Editors also serve as rich resources for advice and guidance for candidates. Journal editors have worked for large and small law firms, judges, corporations, a broad range of government agencies, non-profit organizations, and a variety of other organizations. Editors also have valuable experience and advice with respect to class and professor selection. Editors who serve in a non-editorial role work to organize the Journal’s events and maintain its reputation and standing.

Eligibility

After completion of all prescribed first-year courses, eligible students have the opportunity to become a member of the Journal in any of three ways:

  • Grade-On. Students in the top 20% of their first-year class or of their first-year section will automatically receive an invitation to join the Journal. Grade-on invitations are usually sent to eligible students in late May or early June.
  • Apply-On. Students in the top 35% of their first-year class or of their first-year section, as well as students who have received either an A or A- in either semester of their Lawyering Skills and Strategies course, will be invited to apply for Journal membership. Applications are usually sent to eligible students in late May or early June.
  • Write-On. Students in the top 50% of their class or of their first-year section may participate in the annual Write-On Competition. Information about the Write-On Competition is available here.

More information about eligibility, candidacy requirements, and membership can be directed to the Journal’s Candidates Editor at ce@hjil.org.