2012 Petition Instructions

Petition Pick Up/Drop Off times are posted under the “Petition Dates” link. Below are the petition instructions from the 2012 petition period.

Each journal’s staff selection criteria differ to some extent, but all of the journals rely heavily on the petitions in selecting staff.

The petition will include two parts: 1) Writing a Note or Case Comment on a topic or case set forth in the petition packet; and 2) a Bluebooking exercise.

Note or Case Comment

The University of Minnesota has a petition process to allow students to write a Note or Case Comment to become a member of one of the journals.

Students that choose to petition will pick up the petition packet in the Law Review office. The packet contains all of the source material you may use. You are prohibited from doing any additional research. If it is discovered that you have consulted any sources outside of the petition packet, your petition will be immediately disqualified.

We strongly encourage you to look at examples of published Notes and Comments to acquaint yourself with the style and format in which you will be writing. Once you begin the petition, you may also consult a published article so long as it is not related to the petition topic.

You may also want to look at sample petitions on reserve in the library. The petitions on reserve should be the only petitions you consult for examples of how to compose your petition. Here is a brief summary of the structure of Notes and comments:

Notes describe and analyze legal issues and propose ways to solve problems that arise within the context of those issues. Formats of Notes may vary according to the needs of their subjects, but ordinarily they begin with an introduction, which summarizes the issue and its importance and sets out a road map describing the other sections of the Note. Usually a background section follows. The background section puts the issue in context by detailing cases and statutes that address the issue as well as the historical development of the principles involved. One or two analysis sections follow the background section. The first critiques and compares the analytical approaches taken by the cases and statutes described in the background section. The second proposes and defends a solution to problems raised in the preceding section. The Note ends with a short conclusion that summarizes the issue and the analysis.

Case comments focus on the important issues generated by a specific court case. The introduction to the comment focuses on the facts, procedural posture, and holding of the principal case. The introduction also briefly summarizes the issues raised by the case and outlines the format of the rest of the comment. The background section discusses principles and cases that place the lead case in historical perspective. The next section describes the lead case in detail and ties it to the state of the law described in the background. An analysis section follows where the comment analyzes the lead case and proposes an approach that would solve problems raised by the case. The comment ends with a short conclusion similar to that of a Note.

The petition instructions will tell you which format we expect you to use and will offer a more detailed explanation of that format. We will describe exactly how you should organize your work, although it will be up to you to decide what you want to say within that framework.

Notes and comments rely heavily on footnotes or endnotes both to cite sources of authority and to communicate information and ideas. Generally, the text of the Note or comment contains only the most central points while other material that may be useful to the reader appears in the endnotes. This approach to legal writing is different than the style of Brief Writing you are accustomed to from your Legal Research & Writing course.

We limit the length of the petitions to 10 pages of text and 10 pages of endnotes (instead of footnotes). Typically, there should be a text-to-endnote ratio of between about 1:1 and 2:1. Together, the text and footnotes can be no more than 20 pages in length.

Grading of the Note or Comment will be based on strength of your legal analysis, writing competency, grammar, and style. Please note: the Note or Comment is usually based on hotly contested, current legal issues. However, the position you take in your petition will not affect your grade; only the strength of your legal argument will be considered. Each journal is looking for the best writing, not a particular stance on an issue. (Also note that petition grading is like law exam grading—blind. Thus, no member of any journal will see your name in connection with your argument).

The Note or Case Comment will account for 70% of your petition score.

Please contact mnpetitionquestions@gmail.com if you have any further questions.

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