Student Spotlight with Michael R. McDonald

MASON–DIXON LINE: Waynesboro, Pa., native Michael R. McDonald is a third-year student at Penn Law School, and the editor-in-chief of the University of Pennsylvania Law Review. Founded in 1852, the Law Review is America’s oldest law review and oldest continuously published student journal.

GRAVITATIONAL PULL: McDonald studied philosophy as an undergrad at Saint Joseph’s University and says his gravitation toward law was “gradual.” After working for a year at the U.S. Public Interest Research Group in Washington, D.C., he joined Rosemont College in Montgomery County, working in campus ministry.

PUBLIC GOOD: One of McDonald’s primary responsibilities at Rosemont was helping students plan service and volunteer projects. The job, he says, made him contemplate doing additional work helping others and pursue an education that would allow him to use the skills and strengths he acquired to serve the public more broadly. “The more I started thinking about [law], the more it seemed like it was the right fit,” he says.

FRANKLIN, FRANKLIN & FRANKLIN: The Law Review is the University’s scholarly, student-run legal journal that publishes some of the best scholarship from some of the country’s sharpest legal minds. Approximately 2,000 articles are submitted each year; 18 are chosen for publication. Seven issues of the Review are published annually: six standard issues containing three articles written by legal professionals or academics and two shorter articles written by Penn students, and a special symposium issue.

SECOND AND THIRD: Around 110 Penn Law students work on the Law Review. Second-year students can apply to serve as associate editors and third-year students can apply to serve on the board or as a senior editor.

ENGAGING LEGALLY: McDonald says he was interested in joining the Law Review because of its prestigious reputation and the opportunity to hone his technical, writing, and editing skills. “You get to engage with legal scholarship in a way that maybe you wouldn’t be able to as a student,” he says. “You really get to work with faculty members who are in the process of developing these new theories and are working on the cutting edge of the leading topics of the day.”

YOUR HONOR, MY HONOR: McDonald is currently doing an externship at the Brennan Center for Justice in New York City. After graduating in May, he will serve for a year as  a law clerk to the Honorable Analisa Torres of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, followed by another year as a clerk for the Honorable Michael Chagares of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. “I’m very excited about that,” he says. “It’s an honor and I’m very much looking forward to it. Everyone who clerks says it’s the best experience of their professional lives.”

Michael R. McDonald