Monday, April 11, 2005

Symposium report

Three straight hours of answering student writing questions today. Can I take much more? Memo due at 1:30 tomorrow, so it will end eventually.

My presentation at the Legal Rhetoric Symposium at American University Washington College of Law went well. If anyone reading this was there, feel free to comment.

I most enjoyed the remarks of Jill Ramsfield and Christopher Rideout on voice in legal writing. I thing that there is definitely voice in legal writing--the idea that legal writing lacks voice is wrong. Even the idea that legal drafting lacks voice--which I could quote you a great source on--is not quite right. I could have my colleague Professor Meyer draft a contract and then ask you to compare it to my contract on the same subject, and you would discern differences even if the substance was the same. What else is that but voice?

The appropriate use of voice in legal writing, it seems to me, is to know exactly how much of your autobiographical voice (yourself), the discourse-community voice (the voices of other lawyers), and institutional voice (the law) to include in a piece of writing given its audience, purpose, and constraints.

More on rankings soon . . .

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