Are you nearing the end of your law review e-board tenure? Your time on law review has likely been a whirlwind. It’s no easy feat to make law review, acclimate to an editorial role, and help your team put out successful issues. As you prepare for your law review exit, you’re likely eager to take a minute to catch your breath. Once your board puts out its final issue you can take a quick rest, right? Not quite!
Before you power down the law review part of your brain, there’s one task you and your e-board must prioritize - preparing to transition the law review to the next board. It’s best to start this process early to ensure that your e-board selects the incoming editors with plenty of time for them to get onboarded and to start planning for the next volume, as well as any publication goals they’d like to set before article selection starts.
One law review that is transitioning early is The Minnesota Journal of International Law (MJIL). The 2017-2018 staff is working to get the next e-board set up and ready to go before March. In the interview below MJIL Editor-in-Chief Cayla Ebert and Lead Articles Editor Andrew Miles, explain why they think it’s important for law reviews to start working on board transitions as early as possible and how they are approaching MJIL’s upcoming board transition.
We vote in our new executive board usually in January or February. This year voting and impaneling of editors will occur by the first week of February and the transition will start shortly after. We transition at this time as article selection for the next volume begins in March/April and it is beneficial to have our articles editors and executive board up to speed by then. Additionally, our law school’s administration requires us to start the petition (write on) period planning, submit budget proposals, and fulfill other administrative tasks in February-April as well.
It is beneficial as it allows the new editors time to plan the next volume and make any administrative changes they would like before the article selection process begins. In order to compete with other top Journals, MJIL must be able to read the article submissions almost immediately and respond quickly with publication offers. Most other top journals go through this process during March and April as that is when the top authors submit. Also, transitioning the new board early is extremely helpful when planning a Symposium for the following fall. It allows the Journal to select a topic early on, invite guest speakers with sufficient advance notice, and work with the articles editors to select relevant articles.
What do you think enables you to transition earlier than other boards? Do you have any recommendations you would give to other law reviews to help them transition sooner?
We set our date to vote in end of January/early February so staff members are aware. We also encourage a lot of dialogue between staff members and editors about the editors’ responsibilities and roles so staff members can start thinking about which position they would be interested in the following year.
Can you briefly describe what a board transition looks like at your law review - what are the main steps that need to happen and who is involved?
I would caution someone reading the blog to understand the word “transition” with a grain of salt. A full transition of power and responsibilities does not occur until the last issue of that year’s volume is sent to publication. So, all responsibilities of the current editorial board in terms of the publication process remain with that board. The “transition” that occurs in February really only entails the Executive Board working on administrative tasks and planning the selection process for next year’s journal members.
My advice is to make sure that your bylaws, handbooks, and other documents are updated with current processes and rules. This way your journal can keep improving every year, rather than each new executive board “re-inventing the wheel.” I also suggest requiring all staff members who are interested in becoming a lead or executive editor to meet with the current editor in that position, so they are very clear on what they are getting into and what will be expected of them.