Brandeis playing host to National Conference of Law Reviews

This is the first time UofL has hosted the event since 1986.

The University of Louisville Law Review will host the 61st annual National Conference of Law Reviews March 11-14 at the Seelbach Hotel downtown. This is the first time UofL has hosted the event since 1986.

Leah Gravius, Managing Editor of the Law Review, expects attendance from more than 100 different law schools representing more than 200 law reviews and journals throughout the country.

The planning process for the event began with an initial bid in 2013, when she was a 1L. Edward O’Brien, who was Editor-in-Chief at the time and is now an associate at Louisville’s Wilson Elser, threw out the initial pitch. Gravius said such successive planning is what makes this event unique.

“The way this conference works is the people who are applying for the bid are not the ones planning it,” she said. Because he is local however, O’Brien has been involved in some of the planning and will present on some sessions.

Prior to bidding, the Law Review required the support of the school and administration. From there, an NCLR volunteer organization in Florida made the final determination about this year’s location.

“A lot of the initial work goes into ensuring the school that we can handle this and that we can uphold our reputation. We had a lot of support from Dean Duncan and the administration, which was very important,” Gravius said. “This is a chance to get our Brandeis name out there and to showcase our city. We want our school to put on a great conference and get people talking about us.”

The theme of this year’s event is “Efficiency in Changing Times.” Gravius said a focus on efficiency is important because law review participation and readership are down, a trend consistent with lower law school attendance across the country.

“We have to work to be more efficient and pursue more avenues, either in the digital world using social media, or somewhere else. We really need to step it up. Everyone’s been hit, not just our law review. So this is a relevant theme,” Gravius said.

The NCLR will include 24 breakout sessions throughout the week, many fitting within this theme. One such session is on management efficiencies.

“What do you do when your members aren’t hitting deadlines? How do you change your thinking as a leader to keep up with what’s changing?” Gravius said. “These are the types of questions we’ll be addressing.”

In addition to the breakout sessions, the NCLR will also include four plenary sessions:

  • The first will be a judicial and clerkship panel, featuring formers students who have clerked for judges discussing their experiences on a law journal and how they used those experiences during their careers.
  • The second, Gravius explained, is about changing the mindset of law journal leadership and “joining the evolution of how we have to change from print-based to digital.”
  • The third session will focus on utilizing social media and ebooks to make the conversion with citations more efficient and to better promote the law journal product.
  • Finally, the fourth session will feature former University of Louisville Law Journal editors sharing their experiences on how they climbed the rankings in the past few years. “We streamlined the editing process and took the leadership more seriously and thought of it more like a business than just a student organization,” Gravius said. “We changed our system and really stepped it up.”

In addition to the welcome reception and a full slate of sessions, the NCLR will also include Louisville-themed excursions. Attendees, for example, can take a sports-themed tour, which includes lunch at the Sports and Social Club, as well as stops at the Muhammad Ali Center and the Louisville Slugger Museum.

Others can choose to follow the Urban Bourbon Trail or check out Louisville’s arts scene with a trip to Louisville Glassworks and the Humana Festival of New American Plays.

Gravius is looking forward to the event not only boosting the profile of the Brandeis School of Law, but also in helping to generate a “significant” amount of revenue for the city.

"The money spent on this conference goes to local businesses and the people coming into the conference will also spend on local businesses. It helps all of us,” she said. “It’s a great opportunity for us to bring in all of these people from different cities and showcase that we’re not just some small Southern city.”

But the most important objective is that attendees are able to take away learnings from the event to better their school's product and underscore the importance of law reviews.

“I want it to be clean, elegant, informative and occasionally fun,” Gravius said. “Attendees will hear from different schools and learn different processes and hopefully improve themselves. We’ll be successful if they’re able to do that.” The NCLR kicks off with registration at 3 p.m. March 11, followed by a welcome reception on Wednesday night at the Seelbach’s 1920s-style bar. The reception is sponsored by the SBA and is open to everyone. The 61st annual event is being held in partnership with Thomson Reuters.