In most first-year legal writing courses, the spring semester signals an important shift from objective to persuasive writing. The classic curriculum introduces objective (or predictive) writing, in the form of an office memorandum, in the fall, then switches to persuasive writing, typically an appellate brief (less often, a trial brief) in the spring. Many students struggle with this transition, feeling as if they’ve barely mastered one approach before being asked to change gears. Here are some suggestions to reduce your struggle and improve your persuasiveness. [Read more…] about From Objective to Persuasive Writing, Part 1: Law
You’ve received your fall grades by now, and reality has set in. If you did well and met your expectations, congratulations! If you’re disappointed, you might be tempted simply to move on without revisiting your exams. This is understandable; with the spring semester under way, it can be difficult to review something you wrote during a three-hour frenzy over a month ago. But you should face those exams constructively. While it is not constructive to rehash your mistakes, it is constructive to identify weaknesses in your exam-writing skills — and to make a plan to improve those skills starting now. [Read more…] about Top Three Mistakes on Final Exams . . . and How to Fix Them Now!
Factual analysis is an important lawyering skill. You’ve been learning and practicing this skill in your LRW class and during discussions of cases and hypos in your doctrinal classes. As you prepare for finals, you may be primarily concerned with understanding and memorizing legal rules. But final exams will require you to demonstrate factual analysis as well. Applying the law to the facts is the most important aspect of most exam answers. [Read more…] about Tips for Using Facts on Final Exams
When I was teaching law school, I’d approach grading final exams with a sense of anticipation. That pile of bluebooks and ExamSoft printouts was the only thing standing between me and the holidays or summer break. I was curious to see how much my students had learned. After submitting final grades, I’d eagerly match the anonymous ID numbers to students’ names. I’d find out whether the student I’d caught on Facebook had actually been paying attention most of the time. I’d discover whether the eager participant in class discussion merely talked a good game or really absorbed the material. [Read more…] about Final Exams: Avoid This Negative Reaction From Your Professor
I’ve previously explained how legal writing relates to your other law school classes. But one connection deserves more thorough discussion: the link between legal writing and final exams. Have you noticed an organizational connection already? It all starts with IRAC. [Read more…] about The Link Between Legal Writing and Final Exams
It’s impossible to write your first memo, brief, or other legal document without fully understanding the final product. You need to visualize the destination in order to know when you’ve arrived. A sample document can be a big help. Virtually all legal writing textbooks contain samples, and some professors provide additional ones. Of course, you can find others online. A sample can be a lifeline if it’s used wisely, but each sample must be approached with caution. Here is some advice for using samples constructively. [Read more…] about Dos and Don’ts for Using Sample Documents in Legal Writing