Law journal founder Marans '11 leaves legacy

At helm of first two issues, new graduate hopes others will continue his work

Judah Marans '11

When Judah Marans '11 declared his intention to start a law journal at Brandeis, the idea was received with hesitancy.

Some people expressed their doubts or were dismissive, he says, because there are few undergraduate law journals in the country. At a university without a law school and with minimal precedent to follow, Marans was constantly reminded that he was not in law school.

But, following up on the extensive effort it took to launch last year's inaugural issue, he has proven the skeptics wrong. The second issue of the Brandeis University Law Journal he founded and edited has just been released, and while Marans graduated May 22, other students say they intend to continue the journal next year.

Marans served as associate justice and chief justice of the Union Judiciary at Brandeis. Last year, he wrote the decision upholding the Senate's impeachment of the Student Union Secretary, and this year's issue includes a feature on the impeachment case.

Marans says that even though journal members are not lawyers, "we can appreciate intellectual clarity, rigor, and the real pursuit of truth, and that is what critical thinking embodied by the legal method is all about."

Noting that Brandeis students have very strong political opinions, he says it is important to the university's deep commitment to social justice to "channel this passion rationally and with fairness."

Marans began the journal, which accepts submissions from all Brandeis students, faculty, staff and alumni, in 2009. He received more than 80 applications from students to serve on the executive board, and worked that year to establish legitimacy for the journal's first issue, attending many law-related events at the Heller School, the International Business School and elsewhere. 

During a lecture in September 2009 at The Heller School, Marans met Harvard Law Professor Charles Ogletree, who discussed his most famous former student, President Barack Obama. Ogletree put him in contact with Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz, and just prior to the first issue's deadline, Dershowitz sent material to be included in the journal.

Marans met Dershowitz this year, and handed him a copy of the inaugural issue; he says that meeting Dershowitz was "kind of surreal."

During meetings every Monday, Marans and the editorial board discuss legal issues, analyze submissions and debates which to accept. Copyeditors apply the Bluebook method of citation, typically reserved for graduate law school papers.

The 2010 journal included mostly analytical pieces written by Brandeis students on topics ranging from the Talmud to "Sexting" to Justice Louis D. Brandeis.

Then-President Jehuda Reinharz wrote the introduction, Dershowitz wrote the foreword and Legal Studies Program Director Professor Richard Gaskins wrote concluding remarks.

Three hundred copies of the first issue were initially published, and two reprints occurred during summer 2010.

For the second issue of the law journal, newly inaugurated President Fred Lawrence, who was dean and Robert Kramer Research Professor of Law at George Washington University Law School from 2005 to 2010, has written the foreword.

Marans would like to see the journal issued once a semester and has worked hard to pass the baton to successors. He believes "there is now a group of dedicated, trained students who are ready and eager to keep the vision alive, next year and beyond."

The second issue, Marans' last as a Brandeis student, is now available by email request to and will be available at the university bookstore and various locations around campus during reunion weekend, June 10-12.

Categories: Humanities and Social Sciences

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