Saturday, May 7, 2022

What We Do: The Life and Work of The Legal Writing Professor by David I. C. Thomson

When Deb Green, James Garland,  and I started teaching legal writing at the University of Alabama, Dean Randall suggested we present a faculty forum about what legal writing professors do.  He wanted us to demonstrate that legal writing professors did more than just teach grammar and that we provided significant value to Alabama law students.  The forum was a great success, and most of our doctrinal colleagues accepted us as essential members of the faculty.

Professor David Thomson has just written an article that does the same thing for all law schools and professors:

What We Do: The Life and Work of The Legal Writing Professor.

This is a comprehensive article, which tells what, how, and, especially, why legal writing professors do (it).  Every law school administrator and faculty should read this article.  Also, it should be emailed to every new legal writing professor with their acceptance letter.

Here is the abstract:

The life of the legal writing professor in today’s law schools is a challenging yet rewarding one. Out of necessity, over the last thirty years the pedagogy of legal writing has expanded to include much more than just writing skills—it has become every law student’s introduction to a broad set of basic lawyering skills and is more appropriately styled the Lawyering Process (LP). The increasing gravity and responsibility of the Lawyering Process course has led to expansion of credits given to the course and gradually to greater status and equity to the faculty who teach it, although most of us still lag the benefits and privileges of our tenured colleagues. Because of the dramatic evolution of the course and in the professionalism of the faculty who teach it, many traditional tenure-track faculty members do not really know or understand what we do now. This Article seeks to fill that gap — to bring our colleagues up to date on what we teach and how. It also seeks to help our colleagues understand what sort of support we want and need to be even better and more effective at teaching this critical course in law school. Finally, it is hoped that this Article will be helpful to faculty new to the task of teaching the Lawyering Process course so they will have a more complete understanding of the joys and challenges that await.

Update: Upon rereading Professor Thomson's article, I think it is one of the most important articles ever written on legal writing.

(Scott Fruehwald)

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