Monday, May 24, 2010

what should legal writing scholarship be about?

Jack Lee Sammons at Mercer University has written a noteworthy article on "Legal Writing Scholarship, Making Strange, and the Aesthetics of Legal Rhetoric".  As he states:

"Some of the central issues addressed in the Mercer Law School Symposium on Legal Writing involved questions about the scholarship potential of the discipline of legal writing. Those on the fringe of the academy, as legal writing professors are now and as clinicians were in the sixties, often offer the clearest perspective on it, and, in the case of the legal academy, on the practice itself. What scholarship, I wondered as I listened to the speakers, would best take advantage of this privileged perspective and of legal writing’s necessary focus on rhetoric? There are at least two ways of approaching this question, both of which I want to use here, and these two ways can be related one to the other as I will try to do here as well. The first is to wonder what subjects for the discipline are most naturally generated by teaching it. Here, I will pursue this approach immodestly by trying to display how my own recent scholarship could have naturally arisen (and to some extent it did naturally arise) from teaching an Advanced Legal Writing section as part of the Legal Writing Certificate Program at Mercer. The second approach is normative: What subjects should legal writers contribute to the academy and why? For the first I will ask you to join me in an imagined internal monologue as I wonder about what to say to my students in my Advanced Legal Writing section. For the second I will offer an argument that what emerges from this internal monologue, and, I believe, would also emerge from the similar internal monologues of other legal writing professors, can offer a central perspective for legal writing scholarship, a perspective that could define it. It is a perspective much needed, I will argue very briefly in conclusion, by both the legal academy and the practice. Perhaps it would not be an exaggeration to say: desperately so."


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