New and Updated FAQ

Founded in 1942, the New York University Annual Survey of American Law is a student-edited journal at New York University School of Law. The Annual Survey is NYU’s second-oldest legal journal and was originally compiled by NYU faculty members as a comprehensive annual reference to developments in American law. Now a quarterly publication, the Annual Survey continues its dedication to exploring contemporary legal developments in the United States from a practice-oriented perspective. Annual Survey articles analyze emerging legal trends, interpret significant recent court decisions and legislation, and explain leading legal scholars’ and judges’ perspectives on current legal topics. The journal is widely distributed throughout the world, giving lawyers both inside and outside the United States insight into American law and legal issues.

Second year law students serve on the journal as Staff Editors, while third year students serve as either Articles Editors or in various board positions. The journal offers its members numerous benefits, including a presumption of publishability, networking opportunities with alumni, and more. Additionally, Staff Editors have the opportunity to contribute to the overall direction of the journal by serving on one of our many committees. For their work, Articles Editors receive 1 credit and members of the board receive 2 credits in their third year of law school. Below you will find more specific information about the various responsibilities and opportunities for members of our journal.

If you have any questions about journal membership, please email Editor-in-Chief Elan Weinberger at

How Does Annual Survey Select Staff Editors?

Given our practitioner-oriented mission, Annual Survey places a heavy emphasis on both the Bluebook and writing sample components in choosing our Staff Editors. Cite checking, editing, and strong legal writing are important to any practitioner. Therefore, this year we are permitting the submission of either the writing competition casebook comment or your lawyering brief as a writing sample. We want rising 2Ls to put their best foot forward and we believe that providing this option allows prospective members to best demonstrate their writing abilities.

What are the Primary Responsibilities of Staff Editors?

Staff Editors are expected to complete two hours a week of in-person C&S (Citation & Substance) hours. Under the supervision of 3L Executive Articles Editors, Staff Editors perform vital citation and fact-checking tasks that ensure the quality of the articles we publish. C&S hours not only enable Staff Editors to perfect their Bluebooking skills, but provide a space for building community within the journal and eating delicious snacks.

Outside of C&S Hours, What Other Opportunities Do 2Ls Have to Get involved?

In addition to weekly C&S Hours, Staff Editors serve on several committees, including Alumni, Development, Diversity, Online, Social, and Solicitations. Committees are a great way for Staff Editors to meet other members of the journal beyond C&S hours and engage in substantive work. Time commitment and ability to work remotely varies amongst the committees. Staff Editors are required to serve on at least one committee, but may serve on multiple committees if they so choose. The available committees are as follows:

Alumni Committee:

The Alumni Committee assists in engaging our alumni across the country. Annual Survey has a number of very prestigious alumni including federal judges, law firm partners, and attorneys throughout both government and public interest organizations. Members of the Alumni Committee will engage with these alumni to update them on journal developments and create events honoring our broad alumni base.

Development Committee:

The Development Committee (DevComm) gives Staff Editors the opportunity to get involved in Annual Survey’s article selection process. DevComm members meet with the Managing Editor for Development once every two weeks during the beginning and middle of each semester to discuss the merits of articles submitted to the journal and help make editorial decisions. Meetings are great opportunities for Staff Editors to explore their legal interests in an informal, no-pressure environment.

Diversity Task Force:

The Diversity Task Force (DTF) assists the journal in cultivating a diverse and inclusive community. It supports journal members of diverse backgrounds, ensures appropriate diverse policies of the journal and recruits a diverse pool of submissions for the journal. Over the past year, the DTF has updated the Journal Style Guide to keep up with social understanding/norms and held a Diversity Panel welcoming authors advancing gaps in diversity and inclusion efforts in the legal community at large.

Online Committee:

The Online Committee acts as an advisory and executive body for the Annual Survey’s online and digital strategy as well as for the management of the Forum, our online publication. Staff Editors maintain both our website and social media accounts to increase functionality and expand our online presence.

Social Committee:

The Social Committee helps bolster community spirit among journal members by providing them with opportunities to socialize with one another outside the academic setting of the journal. In the past, the Social Committee has hosted study breaks, beer pong tournaments, movie nights, and trivia nights at local bars. We are looking forward to many more fun events together in the future.

Solicitations Committee:

The Solicitations Committee is responsible for managing Annual Survey’s relationship with the academic and professional legal community. The role of the Solicitations Committee in fostering relationships with practitioners and academics includes planning our annual symposium, reaching out to professors to submit articles to our journal, and serving as a conduit for journal members who have written notes to receive feedback from the NYU Law community at large.

Can I Get Published as a Member of the Journal?

Annual Survey members enjoy a presumption of publishability. The journal offers numerous avenues to publish both longer (Option A) and shorter (Option B) pieces. The journal will help you every step of the way including developing a paper topic, to writing the piece, and marshaling it through the editing process. Given that we are a generalist publication, you can write about any legal topic. Below you will find more information on how Annual Survey can help you publish your work.

Notes Writing Program:

The Notes Writing Program provides 2Ls and 3Ls the opportunity to work directly with a Notes Editor on perfecting a piece of writing for print publication in the journal. NWP serves as a perfect pipeline for students wishing to turn their Option A or B seminar papers into publications they can put on their resumes or clerkship applications. Students involved in the either year-long or spring-only sessions of the NWP meet regularly with their Notes Editor and several peers to set deadlines, discuss ideas, and work through roadblocks in the writing process.

ASAL Forum:

The ASAL Forum is an online-only publication that features articles, think-pieces, and practice notes submitted by professors, practitioners, and students. It is an ideal platform for students seeking to turn a shorter piece of writing, like an Option B paper, into a published piece. It is edited by Annual Survey’s Online Editors. Check out the ASAL Forum tab at the top of the page for more information.

What kind of events does Annual Survey put on?

Over the course of the year, Annual Survey hosts a number of events on legal topics important to practitioners. These include our symposium and dedication. We also are involved in cosponsoring numerous intellectual life events throughout the year. In addition, we also host social and networking events for our editors and alumni. Please see below for more information, or click the “Events” tab at the top of the page.


Each year the Annual Survey puts on a symposium of a pertinent legal topic of our choosing. Past topics have included the future of Copyright law, the Internet and Data Privacy, and the Constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act. This coming fall, we will be leading a symposium focused on the challenges and opportunities in litigating Second Amendment claims today. Typically, our symposia include one panel on litigation and one panel on policy considerations, with a keynote speaker in between the two panels.


Every year, Annual Survey dedicates our volume to an influential legal scholar or practitioner. We invite this person to the law school to celebrate them and their contributions to the legal field. These dedications allow us to hear directly from our dedicatee, learning about their passion and drive as well as tips and tricks for a successful legal career. This year, we honored Barbara Underwood, who currently serves as the Solicitor General for the State of New York. In past years, we have dedicated to Hilary Clinton, Ruth Bader Ginsberg, and countless other big names. For more information on our dedication events, click the Dedications tab above.

Social and Alumni Events:

Annual Survey puts on a number of social events to foster a sense of community with the current members of the journal. These include, inter alia, happy hours, beer pong tournaments, and movie nights. In addition, this year, we will be putting on a number of alumni events to facilitate networking between current members and alumni.

Annual Survey Adopts “(cleaned up)”

A vocal community of appellate lawyers on the Internet advocates replacing extended explanatory parentheticals required by Rules 5.3 and 5.4 of the Bluebook with a simpler parenthetical that simply says “(cleaned up).”

Jack Metzler, currently an attorney for the Federal Trade Commission, originated the idea and posted a draft of his proposal online.1 He found a receptive audience.2 On August 1, 2017, the Fifth Circuit went beyond mere reception and became the first federal court of appeals to adopt its use.3

The inherent merits of the “(cleaned up)” proposal and its popularity with practitioners has convinced the editors of the New York University Annual Survey of American Law to incorporate the proposed rule into the journal’s style guide. The Annual Survey describes its mission as including the exploration of “contemporary legal developments in the United States from a practice-oriented perspective.”4 Practitioners have embraced the idea, and the journal wishes to evolve with them. Furthermore, the proposal has the additional benefit of engaging junior editors by allowing them to think critically about the citations they edit: a unique issue for law journals.5 Although every journal is different, we encourage other journals to adopt this proposal as well.

The Proposal Demonstrated6

Consider the following example citation:

We have long said that “[a] court need not consider a party’s ‘conclusory and self-serving affidavit [as] . . . sufficient to overcome’ a motion for summary judgment.” Johnson v. X Brands, 850 F.3d 1111, 1112 (9th Cir. 2017) (quoting Smith v. Acme, Inc., 822 F.3d 304, 308–09 (9th Cir. 2017) (internal citation omitted)).

On its face, this citation appears to make the statement that a court does not have to consider a party’s conclusory and self-serving affidavits as a sufficient basis for overcoming a summary judgment motion. The citation is to a 2017 case called Johnson v. X Brands in the Ninth Circuit, and it contains the following additional information:

  • The Johnson citation is not totally faithful: there was a capitalization change (the “a” became lowercase), an added word (“as”), and there were some words omitted before “sufficient.”
  • The Johnson case quoted partially from a different 2017 Ninth Circuit case called Smith v. Acme; an internal citation was omitted somewhere in its quote.

If Metzler’s passage was itself being quoted (say, in a 2017 Ninth Circuit case called Sample v. Cite), an even longer quote would result:

This Court has “long said that ‘[a] court need not consider a party’s “conclusory and self-serving affidavit [as] . . . sufficient to overcome” a motion for summary judgment.’” Sample v. Cite, 900 F.3d 101, 103 (9th Cir. 2017) (quoting Johnson v. X Brands, 850 F.3d 1111, 1112 (9th Cir. 2017) (quoting Smith v. Acme, Inc., 822 F.3d 304, 308–09 (9th Cir. 2017) (internal citation omitted)) (alterations in original)).

Now, yet another parenthetical, “(alterations in original),” indicates that the quotation from Sample v. Cite, which contained all of those annoying brackets and ellipses, was in fact written with all of those annoying brackets and ellipses, and that those alterations were not added by the author quoting from Sample v. Cite.

Metzler’s proposed solution is to eliminate all of this the extraneous information with one parenthetical, as follows:

This Court has “long said that a court need not consider a party’s conclusory and self-serving affidavit as sufficient to overcome a motion for summary judgment.” Sample v. Cite, 900 F.3d 101, 103 (9th Cir. 2017) (cleaned up).

This conveys the exact same legal information but with significantly less extraneous detail. The reader can focus on the substance of the legal proposition without distraction.

Editorial Decisionmaking

The previous section noted that all of the citations were from 2017 Ninth Circuit opinions. This matters because citations are not merely used to show some authority for a proposition, but also to communicate how persuasive that authority is. The uniformity in this example implies that the intermediate citations do not convey much additional information, since they all come from the same jurisdiction.

That will not always be the case. For example, a lawyer in a state trial court may cite a previous opinion of that court, which itself quotes from a United States Supreme Court case. In that scenario, it may make sense to keep both the trial court quote and the Supreme Court quote, to show that the court had followed Supreme Court precedent in the same manner previously. Metzler shows a variant of this in his last example in Part IV of his paper.7 In other words, “(cleaned up)” can and should be used flexibly. In some cases, it makes sense to retain intermediate citations, along with the traditional annotating parentheticals.

Law Journals

The editorial decisionmaking described above is no less important for academic writing than for court filings. Academics are just as impressed by the Supreme Court as (and much less interested in state courts than) practitioners. Journal editors, therefore, must determine what aspect of the citation is relevant, using both personal intuition and above-the-line context clues.

This leads to another benefit of the “(cleaned up)” concept, which is unique to law journals: junior editor engagement. Many professors of legal writing have expressed concern that law students learn legal citation too mechanically and “syntactically,” with insufficient focus on the communicative function of effective legal citations.8 Introducing “(cleaned up)” into the cite-and-source-checking process invites junior editors to think about their citations and participate in the editorial process in a more meaningful and substantive way.


“Legal citation is a core convention of practical legal writing in the United States.”9 It is time law journals take ownership of that fact and do something useful with it. The Annual Survey of American Law is proud to join the effort. We hope that by introducing “(cleaned up)” into our citations, our readers will enjoy clearer and more meaningful citations, while our junior editors gain practice crafting them.

  1. Jack Metzler, Cleaning Up Quotations (March 17, 2017) (draft), []. 
  2. See generally #cleanedup, Twitter, [] (showing many positive references to the idea). 
  3. See United States v. Reyes, No. 16-40241, slip op. at 7 (5th Cir. Aug. 1, 2017), []. 
  4. Mission, N.Y.U. Annual Survey Am. Law, []. 
  5. See infra Section III. 
  6. This section is a simplified adaptation of the first example used in Jack Metzler’s proposal and borrows liberally from it. See Metzler, supra note 1, at 2–4. 
  7. See Metzler, supra note 1, at 5. 
  8. See, e.g., Alexa Z. Chew, Citation Literacy (July 25, 2017) (draft), []. 
  9. Id. at 7 (cleaned up).