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Author Topic: Screwed in Legal Writing  (Read 10746 times)

upgrade

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Re: Screwed in Legal Writing
« Reply #10 on: April 05, 2009, 08:05:52 PM »
I, too, feel your pain.   >:(  Legal Writing resulted in a D (50% of total grade)and a D- (25% of total grade) on the papers, and with the 3.0 curve and completing other minor (25% of grade) assignments, I ended up with a B- first semester, which was better than I actually expected.  Grade on first memo for the second sem?  F.  Highest grade in the class on that memo?  C-.  How many of those were there?  2.  Which means 18 people got Ds or Fs in some form.  We were, in fact, warned ahead of time though, that half the class got Fs on this assignment last year--seems like it was a self-fulfilling prophecy.  Sometimes I wonder if this prof. has a formula for how many people will pass/fail each assignment at his whim, and then plugs people into his sadistic formula.  Don't listen to people who tell you your life is over because you got a C+ and you had better get cracking to overcome it.  I got a C+ in another class.  People who say things like that are the ones who end up becoming legal writing professors.  They are just jealous of your good looks, charm, and probably of your appealing British accent, now that we know about it.  EVERYONE evaluates writing in their own way, and the next person for whom you write may think your writing is stupendous.  It's stylistic and very subjective.       

Which school do you attend? 

jacy85

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Re: Screwed in Legal Writing
« Reply #11 on: April 05, 2009, 10:18:14 PM »
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.

jungd

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Re: Screwed in Legal Writing
« Reply #12 on: April 06, 2009, 12:46:30 AM »
For any law students in the New York City area who are having problems with legal writing and need help, send me a private message and we can talk. I'm a practicing attorney and can try to give you the big picture along with detailed help for memos, trial memos or appellate memos.

Dongo

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Re: Screwed in Legal Writing
« Reply #13 on: April 06, 2009, 12:54:04 AM »
For any law students in the New York City area who are having problems with legal writing and need help, send me a private message and we can talk. I'm a practicing attorney and can try to give you the big picture along with detailed help for memos, trial memos or appellate memos.

Cost?

mnewboldc

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Re: Screwed in Legal Writing
« Reply #14 on: April 06, 2009, 11:50:47 PM »
Um... doesn't getting advice from outside folks (especially those who are practicing professionals) violate the honor codes of most schools?
Cornell 2011

k0em9u

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Re: Screwed in Legal Writing
« Reply #15 on: April 07, 2009, 07:47:13 PM »
Honor Codes are not Laws! Just ask Scalia!

Yes, it would be a violation of the Honor Code, but how the f... would they find out? The people who get shafted for getting "outside" help are the idiots who cooperate on their papers and hand in identical products.
Sue me female dog, I know a lawyer.

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Re: Screwed in Legal Writing
« Reply #16 on: April 07, 2009, 08:15:11 PM »
Um... doesn't getting advice from outside folks (especially those who are practicing professionals) violate the honor codes of most schools?

I think there's a distinction between getting outside help for work on a specific memo (or anything else that is created for the purposes of turning in) and general help.  If someone were to give "general" guidance, tips and provide other forms of help, then that probably wouldn't violate any honor code (depending on the details of the school's honor code).  In essence, it would be the same as getting a private tutor for any of your classes.  Just like your tutor can't come into your finals to help you with your exam, the tutor should not be allowed to help with any graded assignment; but, I don't see why the tutor could not help with learning basic mechanics and other details.

mnewboldc

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Re: Screwed in Legal Writing
« Reply #17 on: April 08, 2009, 09:51:56 PM »
Not sure that memo-writing and the process of doctrinal study are synonymous. In the case of doctrinal classes, it's pretty clear that you *should* be discussing the material with people outside your class in an attempt to understand it. Moreover, some professors do allow you to "bring" the words of others into finals in the form of outlines, hornbooks, etc. The trouble there is that everything is timed and you can't spend forever looking at sources, because that would trade accuracy for the ability to discuss issues, which is what matters. The assumption here is that you're providing a finished product.

The goal of legal research is different, because the advice you get is more directly related to the final product, and the product is static - you can look at it one day, then leave it, then go back to it. Compounded with this, what's being graded is not necessarily your thought process - which is ultimately intangible and unknowable - but your ability to perform more nuts-and-bolts tasks. Even conduct outside of this is suspect. Asking an employment attorney where to start an employment-related memo research contravenes the principle of the assignment, because the goal is to furnish all of your own research so that you'll be able to duplicate it one day.

I tend to view legal writing assignments as more similar to "closed book" final exams. Clearly bringing anything into the final exam besides your laptop and a can of red bull would be a violation of the honor code. Accordingly, if the honor code says not to talk about the problem or share your work with any legal professional, I think enforcement of the letter of the law would be appropriate. I agree, though, all honor codes are different and there's an exception to every rule. Moreover, sometimes profs will say it's okay to ask for outside help. If that's the case, get help from wherever you can if it would be useful. Though I guarantee you that if I saw someone looking at their outline during a closed-book, closed-note final exam I would report them.
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Re: Screwed in Legal Writing
« Reply #18 on: April 08, 2009, 10:01:53 PM »
Not sure that memo-writing and the process of doctrinal study are synonymous. In the case of doctrinal classes, it's pretty clear that you *should* be discussing the material with people outside your class in an attempt to understand it. Moreover, some professors do allow you to "bring" the words of others into finals in the form of outlines, hornbooks, etc. The trouble there is that everything is timed and you can't spend forever looking at sources, because that would trade accuracy for the ability to discuss issues, which is what matters. The assumption here is that you're providing a finished product.

The goal of legal research is different, because the advice you get is more directly related to the final product, and the product is static - you can look at it one day, then leave it, then go back to it. Compounded with this, what's being graded is not necessarily your thought process - which is ultimately intangible and unknowable - but your ability to perform more nuts-and-bolts tasks. Even conduct outside of this is suspect. Asking an employment attorney where to start an employment-related memo research contravenes the principle of the assignment, because the goal is to furnish all of your own research so that you'll be able to duplicate it one day.

I tend to view legal writing assignments as more similar to "closed book" final exams. Clearly bringing anything into the final exam besides your laptop and a can of red bull would be a violation of the honor code. Accordingly, if the honor code says not to talk about the problem or share your work with any legal professional, I think enforcement of the letter of the law would be appropriate. I agree, though, all honor codes are different and there's an exception to every rule. Moreover, sometimes profs will say it's okay to ask for outside help. If that's the case, get help from wherever you can if it would be useful. Though I guarantee you that if I saw someone looking at their outline during a closed-book, closed-note final exam I would report them.

What do you think about this hypothetical?

Suppose you hire a tutor for legal writing.  The tutor knows nothing about your class, structure or the materials you learn.  The tutor acts independent of your school.  However, the tutor does teach his own class and hands out his own assignments (memo's etc.).  The tutor grades these assignments and by virtue of his grading and instruction, you have improved in your legal writing generally, which helps you in your graded class for school.  Keep in mind that the tutor never speaks to the student about that student's school assignment, nor does that tutor help with any graded assignment for that student's school work.

In such a situation, I'd be inclined to believe that the tutor is not breaking any honor code.

I think this is a fairly worthless debate since no one is really going to get a tutor solely for legal writing (why not just ask you teacher for help?).  But, I just wanted to say that I think there are ways in which this would be OK.

k0em9u

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Re: Screwed in Legal Writing
« Reply #19 on: April 08, 2009, 10:05:04 PM »
I don't think anyone gives a *&^% if the tutor is breaking the honor code.
Sue me female dog, I know a lawyer.