Sunday, April 26, 2015
Many legal writing professors have proposed rubrics as a better way to help students understand what is expected of them. Now, Deborah L. Borman has questioned the use of rubrics.
(this article is not yet available for download)
In assessing a legal brief according to a standardized rubric, however, many subtleties of structure or analysis and much of the creativity of legal writing is unrewarded or lost. Using a rubric to assess a legal brief may result in the exact opposite of the intended result: an excellent and creatively written persuasive brief may 'fail' the rubric, while a brief that provides the exact criteria of the rubric may earn a top grade, despite lacking the intangible aspects of excellent persuasive writing.
Good writing does not result when locked into the matrix of a rubric. Rubrics impair writing and result in bad briefs. Rubrics replace authentic analysis of writing and reasoning with inauthentic pigeonholing that 'stamps standardization' onto a creative and analytical, i.e., non-standard process. A holistic approach to grading and assessing legal writing assignments leads to more comprehensible communication and ultimately better lawyering."