Friday, June 20, 2014

A Writing-Centered Curriculum in Law Schools

 Toward a Disciplinary Pedagogy for Legal Education by Teri A. McMurtry-Chubb.


Toward A Disciplinary Pedagogy for Legal Education is an outgrowth of the Colloquium - Legal Writing As Doctrine, held at the Southeast Legal Writing Conference in Savannah (2013). The article addresses Writing Across the Curriculum (WAC) and Writing in the Disciplines (WID) in the law school context. However, unlike other articles on legal writing that have discussed these topics, it is does not endorse a mere transport or repackaging of WAC/WID in a legal writing context. Rather, the article reimagines composition theory as the foundation of legal education.

This Article explores WAC/WID and its application in legal educational contexts in six main parts. Part I is a brief history of the politics and pedagogy of disciplinary writing instruction in post-secondary education and in law schools. Part II places WAC/WID in its historical context at the University and in law schools, and investigates how efforts to implement the same in law school curricula exacerbate the skills/knowledge divide. Part III is an introduction to discourse and genre theory and its potential to aid legal educators in creating a writing-centered, discipline-specific pedagogy in law schools. Part IV provides an example of a writing-centered, discipline -specific curricular model using WID pedagogy. Part V discusses how discourse and genre theory can help pre-law and new law students build bridges between legal and non-legal discourse communities — undergraduate disciplines, graduate disciplines, and the law. Lastly, Part VI provides a specific teaching example utilizing discourse and genre theory to demonstrate how to build those bridges between different discourse communities. This Article concludes with a brief discussion of the barriers and benefits to implementing a writing-centered curriculum in law schools.

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