Letter from the New Editor-in-Chief

Jenna Goldman '18

To say we are living in a contentious time for journalism is an understatement. With a President banning prominent news outlets from attending briefings and the coining of the term “fake news” to (hitting closest to home) the Rolling Stone article debacle over the reporting of a gang rape story at a University of Virginia fraternity house. If anything has been learned from the past year, it is that a free and reliable press is imperative to informed decision-making, in other words, “Democracy dies in darkness.” 

As law students, we are acutely aware of the power of the First Amendment and our respective rights therein, even as amateur journalists. The Virginia Law Weekly may only publish once per week, and those of us who contribute to the paper may regard writing as more of a “hobby” than as a profession, but we take our work and responsibility as the school’s news source very seriously. 

The Law Weekly has been an incredibly formative experience in my law school career and I am thrilled to serve as the Editor-in-Chief for the 2017-2018 term. My vision for the paper this year is to be even more interactive and collaborative with the student body and faculty. The current political climate is not one that fosters constructive dialogue, but we hope the paper may be used as a springboard for meaningful conversation in our community.  We welcome political and opinion articles, but, being at the famously collegial University of Virginia School of Law, we hold our writers to a high standard of civility in their discourse.

Though the Law Weekly predominantly covers school and local news, such as changes to the alcohol policy and SBA elections, we are striving to expand our coverage of U.S. and global politics and current events. Most recently, one of our columnists was cited by SCOTUS Blog for his editorial piece on why Judge Merrick Garland’s confirmation would have been mutually beneficial to Senate Republicans and President Obama. Serious news aside, our mission is also to serve as an outlet for creative, humorous expression in an atmosphere that prizes the rote in writing. 

The Law Weekly has an impressive and expansive history since our founding in 1948. Our office, located on the second floor of Slaughter in room 279, is home to the full paper archive which we plan to digitize in the coming year so the history of UVa Law may be accessible to students and alumni through the new Law Weekly website. 

In our nearly seventy year history, we have won the American Bar Association’s Best Law School Newspaper three times, and our articles have been cited by the Supreme Court, the Fifth Circuit, and numerous state courts.

The paper in its modern form is due to the hard work of Editor-in-Chief emeritus Alex Haden and the rest of the 2016-2017 Editorial Board. Alex, you are leaving an incredible legacy at UVa Law in the standard of quality, accessible student writing you have set–a standard the 2017-2018 team is eager to continue. 

Our goals for the year include expanding our website and social media presence to reach a wider audience of students and alumni. We hope to publish more Professor articles in our “Dicta” column, which introduces students to professors’ recent projects and thoughts on current events. Of course, we will still run our popular professor lunch, Hot Bench, and alumni corner series.

Despite the emphasis on news and editorials, the paper will always pay homage to our satirical beginnings with the esteemed “Court of Petty Appeals.” The highest Petty Court in the Law School accepts complaints through editor@lawweekly.org. We do accept and publish amicus briefs; however, our justices are rarely compelled by anything. 

First and foremost the paper belongs to the students; we encourage debate and participation in this forum, and hope everyone considers contributing during their time at UVa Law. The quality of writing we receive from our brilliant fellow classmates is what keeps us going on the paper late into the night as we format and edit for our Wednesday morning release. 

We are always looking for writers, reporters, editors, photographers, and even cartoonists to join our Editorial Board. If you have any questions, concerns, or would like to write for us, please do not hesitate to contact me directly at jmg3db@virginia.edu throughout the year, or the staff generally at editor@lawweekly.org. 



1 https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/cnn-new-york-times-other-media-barred-from-white-house-briefing/2017/02/24/4c22f542-fad5-11e6-be05-1a3817ac21a5_story.html?utm_term=.05d3fd405d21.

2 https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/jury-finds-reporter-rolling-stone-responsible-for-defaming-u-va-dean-with-gang-rape-story/2016/11/04/aaf407fa-a1e8-11e6-a44d-cc2898cfab06_story.html?utm_term=.74abe15b52f7.

3 http://thehill.com/homenews/media/320619-the-washington-post-democracy-dies-in-darkness.

4 http://www.scotusblog.com/2016/03/thursday-round-up-316/.