Over the weeks leading up to the 2020 Writing Competition, we will be posting interviews with some of our members who wrote on to UMLR in the 2019 Writing Competition. This series will look at the best practices for competitors to follow during the Competition and what pitfalls to avoid. The fourth in this series is an interview with Volume 75 Member, Jacob Stemer.
Q: What responsibilities did you have over the summer you participated in the Writing Competition?
A: I was working full time at a firm over the summer. They accommodated my requests for time off to work on my submission and allowed me to work on it a little at the office. I did not need as much time off as I thought I would when I approached them prior to the start of the competition.
Q: Despite these responsibilities, what motivated you to participate in the Writing Competition?
A: I wanted “Law Review” on my resume as something that would look good to future clients trusting me as the best choice for them, and I wanted to challenge myself.
Q: What was the most challenging thing for you about the Writing Competition?
A: Hitting the submit button. After I finished the main “meat and potatoes” writing, I read through it a million times for edits. At a certain point, you just have to be done with it and turn it in.
Q: What was your strategy for approaching the material? Did you start by reading all of the materials? Or did you approach it a different way?
A: I sectionalized the whole process. I do not remember exactly, but the first thing that I did was scan through the cases and sources to get a big picture of what I was dealing with. I then set up a separate Word document for each of the sections of a case note (introduction, prior law, main case, etc.) with an outline of what each section should contain and very elementary ideas from my scan of the materials. I then read through the materials in detail and wrote out the prior law section and the main case section. By the time that I got to the analysis section I was an “expert” on the subject; I could then pick what kind of argument I wanted to make, and the best way to make it. The introduction and conclusion write themselves at the end.
Q: If you had to do anything differently during the Competition what would you have done?
A: I cannot really think of anything that I would do differently except for maybe stressing less.
Q: What would you say was the best thing you did do during the Competition?
A: I think that organization was key for me. I divided the whole thing into mini assignments and put it all together at the end.
Q: What is one piece of advice you would you give to someone participating in the Writing Competition this year?
A: I would say to not decide on your thesis too early. You do not need it until you get to your analysis section. If you write out your prior law and main case sections first, you will be way more familiar with the material and can make stronger arguments. You can always go back to those sections to tweak them to match/correspond your analysis section after.
Q: Do you have any other thoughts you’d like to share about the Competition not covered by these questions?
A: Just write. Do not worry about the page limit at first; go way over it. Editing down is a good way to make sure your thoughts are clear and concise. Plus, at the end you have a better idea of what your main points are.