Saturday, May 11, 2024

Preface: How To Teach Legal Writing

 How To Teach Legal Writing by E. Scott Fruehwald.

                                                The Joys of Teaching Legal Writing

There is nothing more gratifying in the professional world than to watch a student
learn–to watch a light bulb go off above a student’s head. Legal writing students start the fall
semester knowing nothing about the law, and they end the year being able to write an
appellate brief and present an oral argument. This is due to legal writing teachers. Legal
writing professors start with putty, and they mold that putty into professional lawyers.

Legal writing may be the most important course students take in law school.
Professor David Thomson has declared, legal writing “has become the fundamental and
foundational course in all of law school.” It is a fundamental and foundational course, not
only because it teaches students to write documents that attorneys write every day in practice,
but because it teaches legal analysis and reasoning.

I have written this book to help new legal writing professors begin their careers and
to help established teachers become expert legal writing teachers. Part I is for new legal
writing professors. Most practioners receive little or no training before they start to work as
legal writing teachers. They are thrown into the pool, and they can swim or sink.

Chapter One discusses planning and preparation for your first semester of teaching.
Chapter Two explains case analysis and my contribution to case analysis–identifying the types
of legal reasoning judges use in their opinions. Chapter Three concerns the first class on legal
writing, including teaching the three stages of writing, holistic writing, and objective legal

Chapter Four demonstrates how to teach large- and medium-scale organization of the
discussion section of an objective memorandum, along with how to articulate that
organization. Chapter Five is probably the most important chapter in this book; it shows you
how to teach the small-scale paradigm. Chapter Six discusses other topics in teaching the first
semester of legal writing. Chapter Seven switches to persuasive writing. It concerns the
differences between persuasive writing and objective writing and how to persuasively write
a brief. Finally, Chapter Eight tells you how to teach oral argument.

Part II demonstrates how to transition from being a competent legal writing professor
to an expert one using general learning theory. Chapter Nine presents teaching and learning
theory, including how the brain learns (the neurobiology of learning), Robert Kegan’s
developmental stages of learning, and Bloom’s Taxonomy. Chapter Ten then applies that
learning to demonstrate how you can become an expert legal writing teacher. Chapter Eleven
explains the growth mindset and how to motivate your students. Finally, Chapter Twelve
explains how to help your students become metacognitive thinkers and self-regulated learners.

Dedicated to the memory of Louis J. Sirico, Jr.
A friend and a mentor.

(Scott Fruehwald)


| Permalink