Monday, February 22, 2010

Studying Error in Legal Writing (Terri LeClercq commends an article for your reading)

Alaka, Aida Terri LeClercq (who is visiting Chicago this week and making presentations at both The John Marshall Law School and Chicago-Kent College of Law) strongly recommends the following article, written by Professor Aida Alaka (pictured at right) of the Washburn University School of Law.  Here's Terri's message:


I encourage everyone to take a few minutes to read Aida Alaka's article "Phenomenology of Error in Legal Writing."  28 Quinnipiac 1.   Wow.
She builds her investigation on the ground-breaking empirical work of Anne Enquist, and then integrates many of our collegues' theories and practices into her own empirical study of why students don't seem to incorporate (our great) advice into their subsequent writing.  Among other findings, she realized that "they did not understand the underlying rules applicable to their weaknesses. . . .  Sending them to a grammar and style manual, without guidance, was largely ineffective.  One-on-one lessons were more effective." She adds a bit of cheer for the writing specialists out there, however:  "Addressing the phenomenon of persistently poor basic writing skills must occur in the legal writing classroom."  This investigation may reiterate what we have suspected, but it is a stronger argument because it is based on semester-long interviews.  It is solid.  I hope some of you take up the investigation from here:  it would be useful to have more control groups, more writing professionals with different types of students in the groups, etc.  Do take a moment to read this article, and perhaps take that next step.
Terri LeClercq

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