Monday, March 18, 2013

Garner column both helps and slights legal writing professors

Bryan Garner argues in the March ABA Journal that many legal writers suffer from the “Dunning-Kruger” Garnereffect—a syndrome named after two professors who showed that unskilled persons often think they’re better than they are. His column, titled Why Lawyers Can't Write, provides support for legal writing professors who are truthful about students' weaknesses and prod them toward a higher level of skill. But Garner is off the mark when he blames law schools for providing students with “little if any feedback (on substance, much less style) on exams and writing assignments.” While some professors may be guilty of that charge, most legal writing professors are not. We give students extensive feedback. 

By emphasizing the value of clear, precise legal analysis and writing, Garner helps us in our efforts to hold students to high standards. But he slights us in not recognizing that our profession is overwhelmingly on his side, as a myriad of our published articles and conference presentations have documented.


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This post should be sent as a letter to the editor of the ABA Journal.

Posted by: Sue Liemer | Mar 18, 2013 3:37:18 PM

I took Garner's comment to be referring to instructors in subjects other than legal writing. In other words, in the majority of a law student's classes, that student will get little to no feedback on writing - making it seem as if writing only matters in writing class. And, of course, once we've graduated and gotten a job, we're no longer in writing class....

Posted by: Brom | Mar 19, 2013 6:56:54 AM

It's not just Legal Writing profs who offer students this sort of assistance. At least at my school, virtually all professors do.

Posted by: Lsirico | Mar 19, 2013 11:16:25 AM

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