Showcasing Student Writing, St. John's Launches Undergraduate Journal

Thursday, July 31, 2014

To offer students from across all disciplines the opportunity to publish their work, St. John’s University has unveiled its first undergraduate journal of law-related/legal-themed student writing.

The Legal Apprentice features articles about legal cases written from multidisciplinary perspectives. It is produced by the College of Professional Studies (CPS) with financial support from the Division of Criminal Justice, Legal Studies, and Homeland Security and the student-run Legal Society .

“This exciting new undergraduate publication gives St. John’s students a chance to shine and also supports one of the University’s strategic priorities—improving student writing skills,” said Robert A. Mangione, Ed.D., R.Ph., provost.

The journal was created by Mary Noe, J.D., associate professor of criminal justice, legal studies, and homeland security, who modeled it on the St. John’s Law Review. Contributors provide case summaries, research, and opinions about specific legal cases that reflect their respective interests and backgrounds. “No legal training is required,” Noe said. “This is about good writing, not legal knowledge.”

Submissions are “blind reviewed” by an editorial advisory board. As editor, Noe works closely with students, guiding them through every stage of the writing process. “The journal showcases our students’ writing excellence and provides them with an introductory experience in publishing their academic work,” said Kathleen Vouté MacDonald, Ed.D, dean of the College of Professional Studies.  

In addition to four student articles, the debut issue also contains a message from Chief Judge Loretta A. Preska, the US District Judge for the Southern District of New York, as well as an essay by Noe on legal writing. Plans are to publish the journal annually and to expand the number of contributions by student writers.

Noe drew inspiration for the project from an experience she had as an undergraduate at Brooklyn College. “My English professor asked if he could include one of my essays in his book on the art of writing,” she said. “This book was—and is—a great source of pride for me to this day. One of my goals is to duplicate this feeling of pride for students at St. John’s,” she said.   

Legal studies major Jessica Fusco ’16CPS is enjoying this sense of accomplishment. Her essay, “The Case of the Connecticut Chimp: Strict Liability for Domestically Kept Wild Animals,” has attracted attention from prospective internship providers.  “Lawyers who stand out are those who publish,” she said.

Arturo Peña ’14CPS, whose interests lie in questions of religious freedom, the public square, and the courts, submitted his essay, “Professional Photographer’s Liability for Refusal to Work a Same-Sex Wedding.” The publication experience was an eye-opening one. “I realized what I actually want to do is pursue a double doctorate in political philosophy and law and ultimately teach,” he said.  

Students interested in writing for The Legal Apprentice should contact Noe at noem@stjohns.edu. The submission deadline for the next issue is December 1. “I want this journal to raise the profile of our students and to give those who are willing to make the extra effort something special to show prospective employers and graduate schools,” said Noe.