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Student Publishing Initiative Takes Off Under Direction of Nicole Barna ’11

The graduation requirement that every Rutgers School of Law–Newark student produce a substantive paper of at least 25 pages is typically fulfilled through a seminar paper, a clinic paper or a journal note. “If it is a clinic or seminar paper, the work is graded and then usually forgotten,” says Nicole Barna ’11. “While journal notes have the opportunity to be selected for publication, journals are restricted to a small number of student works that they can publish in a given year.” Thinking about the amount of student writing that is done in law school and how little of it is published, Barna decided to find a way to help her classmates extend the life of their scholarship.

SPI mixer   
Nicole Barna (center) with SPI officers Brian Biglin and Katharine Fletcher.  
The senior managing notes and comments editor of the Rutgers Race and the Law Review founded the Student Publishing Initiative (SPI) the summer after her 2L year. The Initiative set up a peer and faculty editing review process and held two orientation meetings to teach students how best to submit their work. Within a short time after students began submitting their notes and research papers, four members of the Class of 2011 learned that their work had been accepted for publication in outside legal journals.

As Professor John Leubsdorf, Associate Dean for Faculty and Research, observes: “The students, led by Nicole Barna, conceived and organized this project by themselves – one more indication of our students’ ability and motivation.” Other members of the 2010-2011 SPI executive board integral to its early success are vice president Brian Biglin ’11, treasurer Katharine Fletcher ’12, secretary Daniella Fischetti ’12, and director of events Kathy Oviedo ’12.

Although most students are aware that they can submit their work to an outside scholarly or professional journal, many are intimidated by the process and the associated costs. The Student Publishing Initiative was created to streamline the process, show students how easy it can be to submit their work, and obtain access to ExpressO, the leading journal submission service in the academic legal world. “This is an endeavor that I felt was extremely worthwhile to pursue,” Barna explains. “A publishing credit is a fantastic addition to a resumé. In addition, publication of Rutgers students’ work in outside journals serves to further the reputation of the law school.”

Adds Biglin: “The SPI is a great idea because it enables students to help themselves while enhancing the academic reputation of the law school. SPI, which Nicole brilliantly developed, accomplishes this very purpose. And it is just one more example of how Rutgers students, particularly the Class of 2011, are both innovative and interested in advancing the interests of the school.”

With the support of Professor Leubsdorf and Dean John Farmer, the Initiative obtained a year-long trial subscription to ExpressO that began in February. “This access is invaluable,” Barna explains, “as it allows any Rutgers student to submit their work to hundreds of journals at no cost to the student and in less than 30 minutes.”


“The SPI is a great idea because it enables students to help themselves while enhancing the academic reputation of the law school. And it is just one more example of how Rutgers students, particularly the Class of 2011, are both innovative and interested in advancing the interests of the school.”
Brian Biglin, Class of 2011 

In only a little over two months the effort has had impressive success, with students receiving acceptances from international and domestic journals. “I always had great confidence in this idea,” says Barna, “and the ability of Rutgers–Newark law students to be published. However, the caliber of journals that have accepted our students’ papers is what has impressed me the most.” Barna adds that “from the outset, Professor Leubsdorf has been instrumental in getting the faculty on board with this idea.” Many faculty members have offered their time to serve as editors for student papers. “Dean Farmer has also been extremely supportive of the Initiative with his donation to fund our ExpressO access for a year.”

One of the soon-to-be-published authors is Ryan Richman, whose article “Title IX: The Trojan Horse in The Struggle for Female Athletic Coaches to Attain Equal Opportunities in Intercollegiate Sports” has been accepted by the Virginia Sports & Entertainment Law Journal. Richman describes himself as “absolutely thrilled” for the opportunity provided by the Student Publishing Initiative.

Andres Acebo points out that SPI “has given Rutgers Law Students the ability to engage students, practitioners, and legal scholars from all around the country with the means not only to join an ongoing conversation about the great challenges of our time but to shape the discourse itself.” Acebo’s article, “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Whiteness: A Revolution of Identity Politics in America,” is forthcoming in the Columbia Journal of Race and Law. With a note already published by the Rutgers Race and the Law Review, Acebo will graduate with a second article assured publication, an honor that he credits largely to the Student Publishing Initiative under Barna’s direction.

Matthew Pustay, whose paper titled “Logical Inconsistencies in the Law of Euthanasia” will be published by Journal Acta Iuridica Olomucensis (AIO) (Palacký University in Olomouc, Czech Republic), is especially appreciative of the publishing opportunity effort. “This has given students like me, who aren’t on journals or don’t get selected by their journal, a great opportunity to have a ‘publications’ section on our resumés. Many thanks to Nicole Barna, the professors who helped, and the whole Student Publishing Initiative.”

Brian Biglin was successful in having his article on the low-income housing tax credit, analyzing its usage in New Jersey and New York and the fact that it has not been used in an ideal fashion, that is, to create more socioeconomic integration, placed in the Cornell Real Estate Review. Biglin reports that the article, titled “More Affordable Housing, But Where, and for Whom? A New Jersey Study Revealing the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit’s Impact, and the Ongoing Concentration of the Poor,” was “partially inspired by Professor Simmons and what he taught us about the late Professor Payne’s work.” Biglin is now trying to get an article on post-Gallenthin v. Paulsboro redevelopment law published using the ExpressO access provided by SPI.

Barna, who will join the New York law firm of Olshan Grundman Frome Rosenzweig & Wolosky LLP in the fall, has her own publication to look forward to – a note in the Rutgers Race and the Law Review titled “Incarceration or Deportation: Undocumented Criminal Aliens and Policies of Punishment.” In addition to her work on behalf of the SPI, the David S. Solomon Scholar and Rutgers Race and the Law Review editor has been a member of the ABA Labor and Employment Law Trial Advocacy Competition, a Minority Student Program study group facilitator, and most recently a student in the Rutgers Community Law Clinic.

Thanks to the efforts of Barna and the inaugural executive board, the Student Publishing Initiative is now an SBA-recognized student group. Barna is confident that its success will continue under the leadership of the 2011-2012 executive board: president Kathy Oviedo, who is also symposium editor for the Rutgers Race and the Law Review; vice president Andrew Kuntz ’12; treasurer Katharine Fletcher; secretary Daniella Fischetti; journal liaison Tim Oberleiton ’12; and SBA liaison David Acosta ’12.