Texas Law Review’s first Black editor-in-chief reflects on milestone, looks to future

Aaron Boehmer, Senior Life& Arts Reporter

Jason Onyediri’s phone rings after a long day of interviews. 

When he answers the call from the Texas Law Review editorial board, Onyediri achieves a personal milestone and makes history as the publication’s first Black editor-in-chief in its 100-year history. 

“(This) is a long time coming,” Onyediri said. “I’m glad to shatter that glass barrier and open up the way for folks down the line. Like every other editor-in-chief, I’m eager to be in this position and make sure that we keep putting out phenomenal legal scholarship.”  

Onyediri joined the Texas Law Review the summer before his second year. The following January, Onyediri earned the title of editor-in-chief for the publication’s Volume 101, which will produce seven issues throughout the 2022-23 academic year beginning in November. Despite the work and responsibilities accompanying the role of editor-in-chief, Onyediri said leading the publication surmounts the challenge with an all-around fulfilling experience. 

“It’s been fun, challenging and a little bit like drinking out of a firehose,” Onyediri said. “I’m living the dream. It’s been incredibly rewarding, and I’ve really enjoyed every minute of it.” 

While Onyediri said he feels honored by the opportunity to represent the Black community as editor-in-chief, he said he cannot run the Texas Law Review alone, particularly without the women on the editorial board. According to the American Bar Association, 55% of law students are women. Onyediri said highlighting women both in the leadership team and in the articles the law review publishes helps to increase representation beyond law school and into the professional legal industry. 

“One of the things I wanted to achieve coming into my editorial board position was gender parity,” Onyediri said. “Just like being on the law review can do a lot for your career, getting published in a law review can do a lot as well.” 

Working as managing editor, Sarah Eaton said she hopes increased representation of women in the Texas Law Review and in law schools at large translates to the professional field. Eaton said Onyediri not only works well with the women on the law review, but actively helps to promote women in law. 

“(Jason) does a really great job of lifting others up and making sure there is room for them to be heard,” Eaton said. “(He is) an advocate (that) everyone has something to contribute, giving them the room and opportunity to do so.”  

One of the responsibilities of incoming editors-in-chief includes spearheading the seventh issue of the previous volume. Teri Gaus, Texas Law Review’s editorial assistant for 14 years, said Onyediri and his team transitioned onto the last issue of Volume 100 in June with ease. 

“Jason was able to slide very smoothly into the first issue that he and his team worked on,” Gaus said. “Some years have been a little bit bumpy, but it was just seamless, (and) I don’t expect that.” 

After Onyediri graduates from law school in the spring, he will head to Washington, D.C. to clerk for two years at the federal and circuit court levels and then plans to go into private practice. Onyediri said he hopes to leave the law review better than he found it.

“I want to continue improving on the legacy of the law review,” Onyediri said. “There’s a question of what the next 100 years are going to look like, and if I have any say in it, it’s going to look incredible.”