Friday, June 28, 2013

Legal writing for the "real world."

Here's a new article by Professors Megan Boyd (Mercer) and Adam Lamparello (Indiana Tech) entitled Legal Writing For The "Real World": A Practical Guide To Success.  It's available at 46 J. Marshall L. Rev. 487 (2013).  From the introduction: 

One of the most significant complaints among practicing attorneys is that newly admitted lawyers are not effective writers. Many young attorneys also express concern that their law school experience did not adequately prepare them to be good legal writers. This Article is designed to bridge the gap between the law school classroom and the law firm experience. In so doing, this Article is more practical rather than pedagogical, based on experience rather than theory, and founded upon “real-world” examples rather than abstract constructs. We hope this Article will be a valuable resource not only for law students, but for practicing attorneys, who should work to improve their writing skills throughout their legal careers.

In law school, your goal is to prepare yourself for the “real world.” What does that mean? During law school, you should develop familiarity with and expertise at “doing the things that lawyers do.” Perhaps the most important skill you will learn and develop throughout your career is the ability to write effectively. In the “real world,” writing matters because, whether it is a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim, a motion for summary judgment, a trial or appellate brief, or an arbitration statement, writing is an important vehicle by which you advocate for your client. Consequently, your ability to write persuasively and convince a court that your position is justified by the facts, consistent with the law, and based upon principles of fairness is critical. Of course, while other skills, such as oral argument, negotiation, and trial practice are very important as well, your legal arguments are presented to the court primarily through written advocacy. When you develop outstanding legal writing skills, you evolve as both a lawyer and communicator.

This Article is designed to prepare you for the “real world” and teach you the skills that matter--both inside and outside of the courtroom. The principles below are based upon our experiences as lawyers, litigators, and advocates for our clients. If implemented, they will assist you not only in becoming an effective legal writer, but also by ensuring your credibility and reputation as a lawyer. We hope this Article will be an important resource for you as a new attorney and as your writing skills evolve throughout your legal career. Part II focuses upon principles that will maximize the persuasive value of your legal arguments. Part III concentrates on style, explaining, through examples, and how things such as grammar, tone, and clarity can directly affect the outcome of your case. Finally, Part IV offers additional practical tips for the “real world.”


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