When pre-law undergraduate students Josh Alexander and Shekar Jayendra wrote a research paper together, they realized there was no place for them to publish it.
Even though UNC houses the student-operated North Carolina Law Review, the journal does not accept writing from students unless they are enrolled in the UNC School of Law.
“It’s the equivalent of going to major in journalism, but there’s no student newspaper,” Alexander said. “You need that sort of outlet.”
Other undergraduate law reviews exist across the country at schools like the University of Pennsylvania, Brown University and Stanford University. However, Alexander said these publications don’t commonly accept papers from other undergraduate students outside the Northeast and the West Coast.
In May 2023, Alexander and Jayendra decided to create their own undergraduate law review at UNC. The Undergraduate Law Association at Carolina became a registered student organization in November 2023.
Because law schools value writing experience, undergraduate law journals can be a useful tool for prospective law students to use as leverage when applying to law school, Alexander said.
"We want to level the playing field for students,” Alexander said.
William Goldsmith, ULAC’s faculty adviser, said creating something like this — a platform for undergraduates, by undergraduates — is an ambitious project. He said most law journals are run by current law students featuring articles by professors and other law students.
“Law school and legal writing are very much gatekept for the undergraduate level,” Virginia Llewellyn, marketing director for ULAC and sophomore at UNC, said. “It’s really hard to learn those skills if you have no one to teach you.”