By Andrew Cohen
This fall, their editors-in-chief aim to maintain that lofty perch while adjusting to a new template during the COVID-19 pandemic.
With recruiting limited to virtual efforts, Berkeley Journal of Employment and Labor Law Editors-in-Chief Orren Arad-Neeman ’21 and Paul Messick ’21 worried about reaching new students interested in the field. Those concerns were pleasantly unfounded, however, as the journal welcomed a record number of new members (30-plus) this semester.
“I’d like to think it’s because folks recognized that this is a warm and welcoming community, and finding community feels more important than ever,” Arad-Neeman says. “I think the pandemic has also illuminated the dangerous gaps in work law and the ways in which these issues affect everyone. Workers’ rights are now more than ever at the forefront of many people’s minds.”
The journal recently began training new members on source collection and cite-checking. In collaboration with Berkeley Law’s librarians, the executive editing team will begin experimenting with asynchronous learning modules to replace the usual in-person training sessions.
“Given that on-campus libraries are closed, our ability to collect cited sources will be limited,” Arad-Neeman says. “We’ve asked authors to assist us by sending us the sources they have on file, including scans of books. Generally, authors have been very accommodating, and we hope that this can be the norm even once libraries re-open.”
Even during an ordinary semester, most of the journal’s work — line edits, cite-checking, bluebooking — happens when members are at home and apart from one another. But what drives them to take on this extra (and uncompensated) labor on top of busy class schedules and other extracurricular activities, Messick notes, is joining a community publishing scholarship that furthers workers’ rights.
“Building this motivating sense of community becomes much more difficult when you don’t have opportunities for in-person interactions between journal members,” he says. “Much of the work Orren, I, and the rest of our executive board is doing this semester is trying to figure out ways to bring journal members (virtually) together without contributing to an already overwhelming sense of Zoom fatigue as they navigate a completely remote year.”
Berkeley Law’s 13 journals help students hone their legal writing and research skills, with in-depth exposure to law fields that augments general course work. Students drive all aspects of the publication process, from article evaluation and acceptance through the editorial and printing processes. Membership is open to all students except for the California Law Review, led this year by Editor-in-Chief Samson Lim ’21, which holds an annual writing competition to select its students.
In a normal year, Berkeley Technology Law Journal Editor-in-Chief Emma Lee ’21 would be immersed in meetings to help make team assignments, edit articles, create podcast content, write blog posts, and prepare for symposia. Next month, they would be gathering for cite-checking, student panels, and happy hours to build community.
This year, given the pandemic, her team has prioritized flexibility and creative thinking while “pushing the boundaries of what we thought was possible or practical.” That included BTLJ organizing and running an all-journals event where roughly 150 students learned about what a journal entails and how it operates.
“Many journals set aside their personal biases toward their own journals to answer questions about each other, Berkeley Law, and even the Bay Area more generally,” Lee says. “Before, collaboration among journals was scarce, unless it was in a competitive setting or a large-scale event. We also held many more recruitment events than normal in an effort to make sure incoming students had every opportunity to not only get to know BTLJ, but also other students with similar interests in technology law.”
A silver lining, Lee notes, is that functioning remotely actually opens up some new opportunities for journals. There has been growing interest in developing special issues, with several authors contacting Lee to discuss ideas for issues and online symposiums.
“It appears that professors and professionals have begun to take advantage of our newly found level of comfort with online events, and journals like BTLJ have consequently been called upon to participate in publishing accompanying works,” Lee says. “Although this does put additional strain on journals’ resources, the organizers of such events have so far been very flexible and willing to work out publishing schedules and requirements to make it all possible.”
Other challenges include editors living in different time zones, sources tougher to track down with campus libraries closed, and more creativity required in cite-checking secondary sources. Lee stresses the need to remain flexible with authors — and the journal’s 150 members — who are navigating pandemic challenges while striving to keep the production schedule on track.
“Based on my experience over the summer, it seems that striking the appropriate balance is very difficult, but ultimately doable,” Lee says. “Thankfully, our executive board has been exceptional so far in supporting each other through this difficult time. I suspect that this will continue to be a large factor in our continuing success.”
This year’s other journal editors-in-chief are Samantha Murray and Naomi Wheeler (Ecology Law Quarterly); Devin Bergstein and Christine Hulsizer (Berkeley Journal of International Law); Virginia Lyon and Jessica Williams (Berkeley Journal of Gender, Law & Justice); Ariel Flores Mena and Bella Coelho (Berkeley La Raza Journal); Serena Nichols and Maya Harmon (Berkeley Journal of African-American Law & Policy); Avery Brust and Maddy Kerr (Berkeley Business Law Journal); Shreya Santhanam and Stephanie Tilden (Asian American Law Journal); Katia Rosza and Molly Lao (Berkeley Journal of Criminal Law); Talha Mirza (Berkeley Journal of Middle Eastern & Islamic Law); and Naya Coard (Berkeley Journal of Entertainment & Sports Law).