Volume 76 Senior Writing Editor Madison Hauser has been instrumental in setting up the 2021 Writing Competition. Read her interview below for advice on how to prepare for the competition and pitfalls to avoid.
Q: How does the Writing Competition show who is and isn’t a good candidate for UMLR membership? What traits are you looking for in submissions to select future UMLR members?
A: The Writing Competition helps identify who would make a good UMLR candidate by showcasing the competitor’s creativity, analytical skills, bluebooking skills, and ability to follow directions. These are the most important aspects that we look for in a candidate’s submission. The competition is also time-consuming and at times, stressful. Finishing the competition, therefore, demonstrates that a competitor has the dedication to be a part of UMLR, and the time-management skills to balance classes, law review, extra-curriculars, and work. These are all extremely important qualities to succeed on a law review, because at the end of the day, UMLR is a team, and we all need to work together to continue to make UMLR the law review it is today.
Q: How would you recommend students prepare for the Writing Competition?
A: To prepare for the competition, familiarize yourself with student notes. Look at UMLR’s website and read previous student notes to see what a casenote looks like, to see different writing styles, and to understand the various types of arguments you may use. I would also suggest buying or signing up for the free trial of the online bluebook. Then take some time to familiarize yourself with the white pages of the bluebook.
Q: How important are technical skills such as grammar and bluebooking to a successful entry?
A: While a few mistakes here and there won’t prevent you from writing on to UMLR, grammar and bluebooking still significantly influence the success of the entry. Spend the most time and effort of course on the analysis section because there you can exemplify your creativity and your ability to thoughtfully analyze a case. But then please make sure you have time to check spelling, grammar, and bluebooking because these technical skills can account for around one fourth of your final score.
Q: What do you think is the most common mistake participants make when participating in the competition?
A: The most common mistake participants make is allowing stress to get the best of them, and therefore not sleeping, eating, exercising, or taking time for themselves. When this happens, competitors end up not producing their best quality of work. Everyone needs sleep and time away from the competition to recharge. Trust me, you will have a clear brain and fresh eyes when you sit back down to write after a good night’s sleep.
Q: What advice would you give to students participating in the Writing Competition this year?
A: Besides sleeping and taking care of yourself, I would just remind everyone to do your best and take the competition seriously, but don’t stress about it too much and make yourself crazy. It is an accomplishment just to finish the competition, and you should be proud of yourself regardless of the result. Pace yourself, break the competition up into reading days and writing days. Outline before you begin, bluebook as you go, and have fun with your argument! Deep breaths, and good luck!