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--
- Determine the question raised in a legal problem.
- Express a legal question effectively in writing.
- Determine the legally relevant facts of a legal problem.
- Determine the contextually relevant facts of a legal problem.
- Express the legally and contextually relevant facts of a legal problem effectively in writing.
- Determine the best course of research for a legal problem.
- Find relevant authorities to analyze a legal problem.
- Choose the appropriate authorities to use to analyze a legal problem.
- Order the authorities to be used to analyze a legal problem
- Present the appropriate authorities effectively in writing.
- Analyze a legal question in light of the authorities.
- Express the legal analysis in writing.
- Recognize possible counter-analyses.
- Express a counter-analysis effectively in writing.
- Use correct citation form and placement.
- Use correct and appropriate conventions of legal writing.