I too had a somewhat negative experience in legal writing. I found that they weren't too concerned with the substance of your writing, if you got all the legal points; my instructor was really looking for things like strong topic sentences, clean transitions, and above all, proper citation form. The actual legal analysis wasn't very important to them, nor was the completeness of your legal research or explanations of it. I realized this when I read some of the "A" papers of my friends which missed critical points of law and omitted some of the important cases.
It's just one class, get good grades in the others and provide a writing sample to employers so they know your legal writing profs are just full of it.
So...as a first semester 1L, you had already developed an excellent grasp of which points of law are critical and which aren't? You seem to be ahead of the curve, at least from my experience.
I also just have to point out that legal writing is all about the transitions, the topic sentences, the excellent organization and flow. If the main focus was somewhere else (like which cases are critical), it'd be legal analysis (that's not to say that if you completely strike out and make a nonsensical legal argument that you're getting an A).
It doesn't matter how much of a genius you are in terms of analyzing cases, distilling the critical points, etc., if you can't write a well organized and easy to read analysis.
Lets just say that one of the "A" papers I read which was discussing how the 11th circuit should rule (appellate brief) on a 1985(3) class issue neglected to include the case (or any case which included) the test for determining if the class is covered by 1985(3).
It is very easy to make flowery and complete transition sentences and make well organized and easy to read analysis when you effectively have double the space to do it in because you've omitted half the critical law.
Silly me, I thought when they call a class Legal Writing, Research & Analysis I thought they wanted you to do research and analysis. My bad.