At most law schools, the law review can seem like a secret society, reserved for the best and brightest students. That boilerplate is only partially true for Georgia State University Law Review Editor-in-Chief Kassi Conley and Executive Editor Parth Matalia.
Beyond heady thinkpieces and legalese, they believe that being a part of Law Review makes students better writers and more critical thinkers—both necessary skills for good lawyers. The Georgia State Law Review staff publishes one, four-issue volume per year, plus an occasional special issue. This year’s special issue will focus on law and linguistics in conjunction with constitution expert, Professor Clark Cunningham.
We sat down with Conley and Matalia to learn more about what they have planned for the Georgia State Law Review.
What make Georgia State Law’s review unique?
Conley: The first issue of the Law Review each year is our “Peach Sheets,” which is the Georgia legislative history that we compile each year. We provide an analysis of the laws passed by the state legislature, and if there are changes to laws, we look at some of those as well. We interview people who worked on the bill to get their perspectives. It is unique to our law review and it is widely distributed across the state.
We also publish legal scholarship by practitioners, professors and select pieces by students, which are notes or comments. This allows students to explore an area of law that is unexplored or has changed on a more in-depth level.
Why do law reviews still matter?
Conley: You can go to legal blogs and get a basic understanding of most legal issues pretty quickly, which is great for most purposes. But, not everyone just needs a cursory understanding. Law reviews are a great place to start, because they aggregate all of the legal scholarship on a certain issue. It allows you to get a true understanding of the foundational knowledge you need to explore an area of law.
One area where I think law reviews are lacking is in work published by practitioners. We are publishing a few articles by practitioners in this volume. That opens up a whole new area for legal practitioners to show clients their expertise in an area.
Matalia: Another thing is credibility. When you think about exploring legal issues, you know that when you’re reading something from a school’s law review it’s been thoroughly researched, heavily edited and has gone through revisions by so many people. You know that what you’re reading is something that you can rely on, and if you don’t believe something, the sources are listed right there.
What’s a pressing legal issue that you think more Georgians should be paying attention to?
Matalia: Last year’s symposium was about artificial intelligence. I went to undergrad at Georgia Tech, and I believe that there is an intersection between technology and the law that is bringing a lot of change, and will bring even more change in the future. For example, e-scooters– we have so many new technologies going out and no regulation behind them, nor a legal infrastructure to regulate it.
Tell me about the upcoming symposium.
Conley: The fourth issue is always centered around our symposium, and the theme for 2020 is “Prioritizing Prevention in Human Trafficking: Research, Innovation and Advocacy.” Atlanta is known for having a huge human trafficking issue and this topic is one that’s relevant to both Georgia and the nation. Our symposium editors, Michael Foo and Taylor Lin, have been working with Professor Jonathan Todres, who is very knowledgeable in this legal area. Our keynote speaker will be Susan Coppedge, who served as the Ambassador-At-Large to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons under President Barack Obama.
How has being on the law review impacted you personally?
Conley: It’s impacted me in so many ways. A lot of employers still use it as a screening mechanism. For example, if you want to go into big law, it’s beneficial to have Moot Court and/or Law Review on your resume, so it’s helped me during interviews. Personally, it has significantly improved my writing ability. I wrote a student note, which was reviewed by my peers and a professor. Editing on the law review has made me a lot more attentive to detail. I have also made some of my best friends in law school through law review.
Matalia: I agree. Law Review is always an advantage is because it trains you to look at things in such detail. A small change can have such a difference in outcome and that can be easily overlooked. It instills these skills that are beneficial to you as a lawyer.
What advice would you give to prospective GSU Law students?
Conley: Just to do your best. It can’t be emphasized enough that 1L is your most important year. How you do your 1L year can determine where you get summer internships and jobs after graduation.
Matalia: This is likely the last three years that you’ll be in school, and it’s important to take advantage of that. Our class is a community and not a “me versus you” kind of thing. All of my professors have been so engaging, and they focus on us learning the material, not just them getting by. Take advantage of the experience here, because it’s not available at other law schools.