3L fulfills passion for helping others as OSLJ note editor
Like many, having the opportunity to help and make an impact on people’s lives is what initially drove 3L Neil Scott to become a lawyer, but his drive has also grown to include a passion for helping his fellow law students.
Growing up, Scott witnessed the gratitude of the people his father was able to help as an attorney and was drawn to the idea of helping people in the same way.
“I liked that aspect of being able to help with people’s lives, being able to help change something in people’s lives,” Scott said.
Now, on the tail end of his time at Moritz, Scott is helping younger law students as note editor for the Ohio State Law Journal (OSLJ).
After being involved with OSLJ as a staff editor throughout his 2L year, Scott has taken the leadership position to help guide 41 current 2L staff editors on the long process of writing notes for the journal.
“I was really excited about it because I really enjoy working with people and it ties back to helping people,” Scott said. “It’s my way to give back to the community and help people grow with their own legal experiences.”
Every staff editor on the journal is required to write a note on the topic of their choosing, usually on an area of the law that is relevant in today’s society.
“They have the opportunity to pick the topic and it’s one of the first times they get to say what they think the law should be,” Scott said. “That’s what a note does it doesn’t only explain what the law is right now, it’s one of the first times in their careers that students can say ‘here is what the law should be, and here is the legal backing for it.’ It is really interesting to help journal members do something that they are really passionate about.”
Along with their note coaches, Scott’s job is to provide guidance and feedback to the writers at each stage of the process.
“It’s really interesting to see the start of the process, seeing the one-page issue statement and then seeing the 40-60 page note at the end. It is really interesting and cool to see the whole process throughout, how their note has grown and how their opinion has changed,” said Scott.
After the notes are completed, they are graded anonymously by the publication selection committee. First the committee reads every note and decides if it meets the “good faith” standard to get credit and recommends which articles should be reviewed again for publication. About 15-20 articles are read again and debated over which are most relevant and should be published.
Picking the right topic to write about is essential to getting published, according to Scott. He said that students hoping to be published should find a timely topic and work closely with a professor that is an expert in that area of law.
One challenge that Scott said students face that professionals and professors do not is having their opinion being taken seriously. Students lack the authority that professionals have after working in their respective fields for years. Therefore, students have to work diligently on citing laws and rooting their opinion in polices to show enough evidence to get their point across.
“Normally professors will write about their area of expertise, but students don’t have an area of expertise at this point, which can be good or bad,” explained Scott. “They aren’t really set in their ways, they don’t really have a precedent of their own they have to follow, they can pick an issue that they are really passionate about and really go with it.”
His role as note editor has given Scott the opportunity to work with incredible students, learning and growing alongside them. Working with such smart and brilliant people has been the best part of his experience. The job has also given him some very practical skills and a basis of knowledge that will undoubtedly come in handy during his career.
“Working with OSLJ and being able to see all of the interesting areas of the law, and have enough information to be dangerous or conversant on a lot of different things that are happening,” said Scott. “Being able to go in depth into a scholarly article on 40 different issues has been eye-opening to all of what is going on around me, things that I wouldn’t have noticed if I hadn’t been note editor.”
Aside from OSLJ, Scott has become active around Moritz in other ways. As a part of the Moot Court Governing Board, Scott recently finished reviewing and grading the briefs from the Herman Competition. In addition, Scott is working with clients in the Civil Litigation Clinic.
Scott will be moving to New York City after graduation to work at Jones Day, where he worked as an intern last summer.
So far, all of Scott’s involvements both inside and outside the walls of Moritz have proven that he is on the right path.
“Some of the clinics that I have done, some of the pro bono work I did this summer, has verified that working with people and trying to help them in any problems that they have is really what energizes me,” said Scott. “We can talk about the legal theories behind everything and what should or shouldn’t be done, but it’s the actual ramifications to the people and trying to humanize aspects of the law that has driven me to work with people and help them as much as possible.”