Charleston School of Law student Matt Kendall threw out the suggestion half-jokingly when the law review staff was discussing who they might get to write articles for the upcoming issue.

"Maybe we could get Senator Obama to do it for us," the third-year student and editor of the Charleston Law Review recalls saying.

Democrat Barack Obama contributing to the scholarly law journal wasn't completely out of the realm of possibility, Kendall said, as candidates from both parties have been feverishly trying to make themselves known in the early primary state of South Carolina. It was a long shot, he said, but one that paid off.

Obama, who was president of the Harvard Law Review when he was a law student, has contributed the introductory essay for the Charleston Law Review's next issue, which will be published in January. The essay focuses on how lawyers have a responsibility to use their knowledge and power to help others and shape America.

Obama's contribution is a boon for the law school, which opened in 2004 with a stated commitment to public service, Kendall said. And it will likely make it easier for the fledgling law review to attract more high-quality authors, he said.

When Kendall learned that Obama would write for the next issue, "I was jumping up and down," he said. "I danced around the library a little bit."

Kevin Griffis, communications director for Obama's South Carolina campaign, said he's not sure how unusual it is for Obama to write for a law review. But, he said, the senator taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago. "He takes the law very seriously and he takes education very seriously," Griffis said. "When the chance came to document that, he didn't want to pass it up."

In the article, Obama says of lawyers, "We are not like other professionals with a skill to sell to the highest bidder. ... We are often relied on to be participants in the debate over rights and power; we are called on to be stewards of public order, justice and democracy; we are called on to be architects and catalysts both for making real the American dream, and for protecting people from abuse around the globe."

Kendall said the students "were looking for a big introduction to the book that would make us proud to be law students." And he thinks Obama delivered that.

Will Cook, a professor at Charleston School of Law and the faculty adviser for the law review, said he was surprised that Obama agreed to write for the publication. "All (presidential) candidates are busy now, with limited time and resources," he said.

But Obama's essay "signals that the Charleston Law Review is starting to gain some national attention," he said.

Kendall said the law review will be available free to the public in early January at www.charlestonlawreview.org. The essay carries an inspiring message about service that anyone can understand, he said. "It will make you want to go to law school."

Reach Diane Knich at 937-5491 or dknich@postandcourier.com.