Monday, March 18, 2013
Bryan Garner argues in the March ABA Journal that many legal writers suffer from the “Dunning-Kruger” effect—a syndrome named after two professors who showed that unskilled persons often think they’re better than they are. His column, titled Why Lawyers Can't Write, provides support for legal writing professors who are truthful about students' weaknesses and prod them toward a higher level of skill. But Garner is off the mark when he blames law schools for providing students with “little if any feedback (on substance, much less style) on exams and writing assignments.” While some professors may be guilty of that charge, most legal writing professors are not. We give students extensive feedback.
By emphasizing the value of clear, precise legal analysis and writing, Garner helps us in our efforts to hold students to high standards. But he slights us in not recognizing that our profession is overwhelmingly on his side, as a myriad of our published articles and conference presentations have documented.