Wednesday, January 21, 2015

New Book Gives Guidance to Legal Writing Students

Let Me Recommend “The Legal Writing Companion” by Kristen Murray & Jessica Wherry Clark (Carolina Academic Press), a supplementary book for first year Legal Writing courses (here). The authors begin each subsection with a concern that we often have heard from students and proceed to answer the concern with practical advice and examples.

For example, Chapter 4 begins: I’m Having Trouble Organizing My Analysis

The chapter then has 3 sub-concerns:

Problem: I Don’t Know How to Use the Law to Organize My Analysis

Problem: My Organization Is Fact- Based Instead of Issue- Based

Problem: I Don’t Understand Umbrella Sections

After each, the authors respond with direct and helpful guidance. I think students will like this format and appreciate the guidance.

 Here is an excerpt from the book’s promotional material:

Organized by eight common “problem” areas, the book uses a fictional case file to work through a series of problems and includes samples of both strong and weak writing choices. Chapters 1-3 identify and discuss common challenges during the prewriting stage, including the transition to writing a full first draft. Chapters 4-6 focus on organizing legal analysis, writing and explaining legal rules, and applying law to facts. Chapter 7 discusses problems and solutions related to the smaller components of legal writing, and Chapter 8 troubleshoots common polishing errors, from overuse of legalese to common citation problems. There are also two complete annotated memos in the Appendices to pull together the themes presented in the text and show multiple models of successful finished products. Early reviewers responded overwhelmingly positively, wishing they’d had the book as a first-year legal writer.


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