The ABA Real Property, Trust & Estate Law Journal, which boasts the nation’s second largest circulation for a scholarly legal journal, publishes its 50th volume this spring. It also celebrates 25 years of calling the University of South Carolina School of Law its home. The pride and enthusiasm shown by the student editorial board demonstrates the kind of passion that has made the School of Law “the best place to house the Journal for the past 25 years,” according to Professor Amy Milligan, who is also the current resident editor and a Journal alumna.
“With 22,000 subscribers, a lot of practitioners read and use our work. The challenge becomes making sure that we always deliver the best product possible, and our students meet that challenge issue after issue,” said Milligan.
Since 1991, the Journal has been one of the primary vehicles of peer-reviewed scholarship and a jewel of membership for the American Bar Association’s (ABA) section of Real Property, Trust and Estate Law (RPTE). But it is the Journal’s collaborative editing process between students and a national editorial board of professionals selected by the RPTE that makes it so unique. Professional editors are responsible for acquiring relevant and scholarly articles. These articles are then forwarded to student editors who format, edit, and verify all citations before going back to the professional editorial board for final approval and publication.
“The professional editorial board functions as a kind of a safety valve for authors because it allows for editing from different perspectives, some of which come from the top practitioners in the field,” said Professor Alan Medlin, who was instrumental in bringing the Journal to the School of Law and served as professional editor-in-chief during its first years. “This collaboration helps us produce the highest quality academic publication that’s focused on the ABA’s particular membership.”
For students, the symbiotic relationship has been instrumental to their learning and development, allowing them to get actively involved with the latest issues in practice, while affording them invaluable networking opportunities. The environment around the Journal exudes undeniable comradery and support, as students work together for many hours per week to sharpen their skills and, most importantly, provide useful material that upholds the ethics and standards of the ABA.
According to Lauren Patterson, the current editor-in-chief of the student board, “The ABA’s decision to place the Journal here, thanks to Professor Medlin, has opened the door for our Journal members to work with some of the top lawyers in the fields of property and probate law. Through this experience, our members learn about the cutting issues in these legal fields as well as crucial writing and editing skills. The feedback provided by our professional editorial board is immeasurably helpful in producing a great article. It teaches me and the other Journal members how to be an effective writer, which is essential knowledge for any lawyer.”
“To have a partnership with such a highly respected legal organization is invaluable in so many intangible ways, and it also says a lot about the students of our school,” said Medlin. “I have been told time and again by ABA officers that they’re very proud of what our students do. The mutual benefits of this relationship come from hard work and a great product. I’m certainly grateful for the support and the acknowledgments of our accomplishments. It’s just hard to believe it’s been 25 years.”