Monday, June 24, 2013

New Legal Writing Text by David Thomson

Lexis/Nexis has published a new legal writing text, Skills & Values: Lawyering Process - Legal Writing and Advocacy by David Thomson, as part of its Skills & Values Series.  Professor Thomson describes his book (here):

"Skills & Values: Lawyering Process is an entirely different sort of legal writing textbook. . . .  First, it is a hybrid text, which means only a portion of the entire text is printed, with the rest residing on the Lexis Web Courses platform.  This allows the book to be somewhat cheaper and students have less to lug around, but even better, it allows for more interactive features in the online portion of the text that can be achieved in print.  In addition, for the professor who might decide to adopt this text, it comes with a fully populated Web Course for their students all ready to go, as well as an online Teacher’s Manual with Prezis and PowerPoints to use or adapt for class, handouts, a closed memo assignment, email memo assignments, and checklists for various aspects of the legal writing process. 

"Second, it is based on the assumption that students today need to read less and do more.  To be active rather than passive. Aristotle said: 'What we have to learn to do, we learn by doing.'"

"Third, students are just learning this material for the first time, and perhaps they do not need, in the 1L year, quite so much information about the writing process. They certainly do need a deeper understanding later in law school, and in practice. But as they are first learning how to do, they need to do, rather than spend so much time reading about it. So the chapters and topics covered in the print book are covered at a depth that is less than a traditional textbook. They are designed to introduce the basic concepts of legal writing and advocacy, and to be supplemented with additional interactive information on the online site, and then used."

"Finally, it is rare to select a legal writing text that is designed very closely to the way each professor teaches the course. Because all of the books have their own approach, which might be different from our own in some ways, we end up compensating for the differences in class and in handouts and in assignments, and this can be confusing for students. The idea of this text is to be the most flexible of them all, by putting in the hands of teachers the ability to assign a small amount of reading, and then to use the online materials (and their own) in the way that most suits how they prefer to teach the material."

Professor Thomson concludes, "As with all of the books in the Skills & Values Series, this is an entirely different way to think of a law school text than what we have had in the past. And yet it is not entirely unfamiliar either. It is designed to be flexible, adaptable, and designed to teach our students what they need to become well rounded and skilled professionals in the ways they best learn, so that we may best prepare them for their future, not our past."

As readers of this blog may remember, I thought Professor Thomson's previous book in the Skills & Values Series, Discovery Practice (Lexis/Nexis 2010), was remarkable. (here)  I look forward to reading Professor Thomson's new book.

(Scott Fruehwald)

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