Hear from students who were pushed out of their comfort zone and discovered a new found love for writing
Meddie Demmings IV, second-year JD candidate and contributing writer at The Journal of Gender, Race, and Justice, much like any new incoming student, wanted to bolster his legal writing skills, knowing the impact a solid basis in legal writing and analysis has on one’s trajectory within a legal career.
“Once I got to law school I knew that writing was one of the most important legal skills to have and that I was severely lacking in this area. I wasn't used to legal analysis and how it shows up in our briefs, memos, and articles. After learning about [the] journals, and a little push from some upperclassman, I knew it would be a great place to learn and practice legal writing. At the end of my 1L year, I received the write-on packet that consisted of a bluebook exercise and a short writing exercise. I completed each and submitted them to the Iowa Law journals that I was interested in and waited to hear back about which journals offered me an invitation to join. I found the Journal of Gender, Race, and Justice to be the perfect fit for me and became a student writer for that journal,” Demmings said in an interview.
The Journal of Gender, Race, and Justice is dedicated to addressing, “all things race, gender equality, gender identity, and socioeconomic inequality,” publishing innovative and critical analysis on how law adversely affects underprivileged groups from academics, professors, scholars, and of course law students.
In our interview, Demmings indicated his passion for, “solving disparities in inventorship by minorities,” which parallels his work on issues affecting Black and LGBTQ+ people and their intersect.
“Intersectionality affects everything that I do. It is hard to diverge the perspective that you gain living with these identities. It influences how I go about thinking of social issues and really makes me want to work hard to be some agent of change in the ongoing situation. While intersectionality work isn't always able to come together on every occasion, I am still able to advocate and bring my perspective, “ Demmings said.
Through studying legal writing and analysis, Demmings, literally, learned the vocabulary to discuss and dissect topics of interest among other attorneys, professors, and peers. “I remember one of the best interactions I had with employers during my interview was about my writing. Being able to turn boring or complex issues into something that is digestible and fun to read, or at least not dreadful since that's the best it can be at times, for an everyday person really helps to get you noticed and make for a more lively conversation.”
Demmings attributes his new found love for writing to the wonders of working at Iowa Law. “Being at Iowa Law and having their emphasis on being excellent legal writers really made me consistently practice writing. From the 1L legal research and writing program to being a Research Assistant and taking seminars, there are a ton of opportunities to really concentrate on your legal writing skills.”
Second-year JD candidate and the Senior Online Editor at The Iowa Law Review, Isabella Neuberg, shared a similar experience before starting at Iowa Law.
“I was very intimidated by the legal writing portion of school. I assumed that was going to be the hardest part of law school for me because I always struggled with writing before that,” Neuberg writes. “But in my legal writing class in the first semester, I paid close attention to everything the professor said, thinking that maybe I could do ok if I worked hard. Much to my surprise that was my favorite class and my best class, academically. After that, I felt enough confidence to challenge myself with my legal writing and sought out projects, extracurriculars, classes, and jobs that would force me outside my comfort zone with writing. The collegial environment at Iowa Law has also allowed me to feel confident enough to keep pushing myself outside my comfort zone with my legal writing, knowing that if I fail or struggle I won’t be judged and can take that failure as a learning opportunity."
There is no shortage of writing or editorial opportunities at the University of Iowa’s College of Law. Three out of the four academic law journals rank nationally; The Iowa Law Review No.12 out of over 400 (with over 52,000 citations on HeinOnline), The Journal of Corporation Law No. 2 out of 73, and The Journal of Gender, Race, and Justice, ranks in the top five in two subject areas—No. 5 in the Gender category (5 out of 28) and No. 3 in the Race category (3 out of 36). The Journal of Transnational Law & Contemporary Problems addresses issues that transcend national political boundaries, presenting to the international and comparative law communities matters not commonly found in other journals. All four journals at Iowa Law select candidates for editorial boards not on academics, but on their writing skills.
Emphasizing the impact of the written word, be it case briefing or policy written into law, sets Iowa Law alums apart from other institutions by placing significant attention on real-world problems and the language serving as their potential solutions.