Sunday, December 31, 2017
That's the premise Professor Jane Grise argues for in a new article entitled Critical Reading Instruction: The Road to Successful Legal Writing Skills available at 18 W. Mich. U. Cooley J. Prac. & Clin. L. 259 (2017) (but not on SSRN). Basically, Professor Bloom argues that to help students become better legal writers, we need to teach them how to become better critical readers (something that linguistics scholar Naomi S. Baron also argues in her book Words on Screen (here and here)). From Professor Grise's introduction:
. . . . This article provides the results from the first empirical study to examine the impact of critical reading instruction on legal writing performance. Any impact on writing is significant as writing is a key skill for law school as well as law practice. As one legal writing authority has observed, “[g]ood writing is strength. If you are a better writer than other lawyers, your clients will have an advantage.”
This study arose from my work as a legal writing instructor as well as my examination of critical reading scholarship in legal education and research into general learning theory. My work with first-year students led me to explore why some students with good general writing skills displayed serious writing problems during the first semester of law school. It appeared that some of the writing and/or analytical deficiencies could be impacted by the students' failure to comprehend the underlying cases they were reading. It seemed logical to assume that students could become better writers if they understood the cases that formed the basis for their writing assignments. . . .