Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Legal writing isn't what it should be: #2

Law schools must focus on teaching legal analysis, leaving little time to focus on finer points.

I may sound like a whiner, but the truth is that there is so much to cover in teaching written legal analysis to novices that you can't do much else--especially if you give them chances to practice and learn from feedback. Here is a list I compiled that tells what I try to teach in my first-year legal-writing course. I hope you'll see why I haven't much time for focusing on the things that would make mediocre legal writing good or good legal writing great:

I try to teach students how to--
  1. Determine the question raised in a legal problem.
  2. Express a legal question effectively in writing.
  3. Determine the legally relevant facts of a legal problem.
  4. Determine the contextually relevant facts of a legal problem.
  5. Express the legally and contextually relevant facts of a legal problem effectively in writing.
  6. Determine the best course of research for a legal problem.
  7. Find relevant authorities to analyze a legal problem.
  8. Choose the appropriate authorities to use to analyze a legal problem.
  9. Order the authorities to be used to analyze a legal problem
  10. Present the appropriate authorities effectively in writing.
  11. Analyze a legal question in light of the authorities.
  12. Express the legal analysis in writing.
  13. Recognize possible counter-analyses.
  14. Express a counter-analysis effectively in writing.
  15. Use correct citation form and placement.
  16. Use correct and appropriate conventions of legal writing.
Now make them all into good stylists? When?

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