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Author Topic: Screwed in Legal Writing  (Read 10685 times)

czarevich

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Screwed in Legal Writing
« on: January 19, 2009, 07:06:59 PM »
I am very discouraged by my 1L grades this last semester...I did above the curve in all of them with the exception of legal writing, which was a C+.  We only had one grade, a memo, and so it was likely a crapshoot.  Is this going to really impair me?  I used to pride myself on my writing and actually received high regards for my undergrad thesis that I presented at a few international conferences...

TTom

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Re: Screwed in Legal Writing
« Reply #1 on: January 19, 2009, 07:48:58 PM »
I am very discouraged by my 1L grades this last semester...I did above the curve in all of them with the exception of legal writing, which was a C+.  We only had one grade, a memo, and so it was likely a crapshoot.  Is this going to really impair me?  I used to pride myself on my writing and actually received high regards for my undergrad thesis that I presented at a few international conferences...

Sorry about the grade. A C+ is going to hurt when OCI comes around. You'll probably want to come up with a strategy for dealing with that in interviews. Your office of career services can probably help.

TTom

ps I don't see how one graded assignment in legal writing is any more of a crapshoot than an exam. If anything, it seems that those who put in more work on legal writing tend to do better. I wouldn't try blowing off the grade as a "crapshoot" with potential employers. Instead, address the problem.


MaxtoneFour

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Re: Screwed in Legal Writing
« Reply #2 on: January 20, 2009, 07:19:26 PM »
I feel your pain, brother. Legal Writing programs suck everywhere. I wish I had gone to a school where Legal Writing is P/F.
East 1999 is where you'll find me.

2L at Vanderbilt University Law School (Class of 2010)

Dr. Balsenschaft

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Re: Screwed in Legal Writing
« Reply #3 on: January 20, 2009, 08:24:59 PM »
I am very discouraged by my 1L grades this last semester...I did above the curve in all of them with the exception of legal writing, which was a C+.  We only had one grade, a memo, and so it was likely a crapshoot.  Is this going to really impair me?  I used to pride myself on my writing and actually received high regards for my undergrad thesis that I presented at a few international conferences...

Not to be a jerk, but is English your first language?  If it isn't, then a C+ really isn't that bad.

Dr. Balsenschaft

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Re: Screwed in Legal Writing
« Reply #4 on: January 21, 2009, 07:59:32 AM »
Huh.  The reason why I asked was because you used phrases like "impair me" instead of "hurt me" and "high regards" instead of "a lot of praise" in addition to mentioning that you presented at a few international conferences.  It wasn't really a dig, those phrases just aren't used that much in conversational English so I pegged you as a foreigner.  So much for my hopes to become an armchair covert international double-agent investigator. 

Oh well, a C+ does suck.  But don't lose too much sleep over it.  If your other grades were otherwise fine, just concentrate this semester on bringing up your legal writing grade.  It's actually the one class that I think you can most easily improve in if you get some extra help and put in some extra effort.  I think it would look great on your transcript if you can show how much you improved in one particular area.  I realize that doesn't help you out that much for 1L summer jobs, but those positions are not as hard to get as you  might think.  You just need to find a 1L summer position that will give you something to talk about in your 2L interview.  Get an unpaid job if necessary.

Dr. Balsenschaft

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Re: Screwed in Legal Writing
« Reply #5 on: January 21, 2009, 08:52:57 AM »
anecdotal evidence suggests that the people who have the most trouble with legal writing are people who were good at non-legal writing. 

I've always been a decent writer and I've done very well in legal writing.  However, my non-legal writing experience includes a couple years as a newspaper reporter.  Writing news stories was a big change from the writing I had done throughout undergrad.  Perhaps I have come to accept writing according to a formula.  My romantic dreams of becoming the author of the next great American novel have been moving further out of the realm of possibility ever since I graduated from college. 

Dr. Balsenschaft

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Re: Screwed in Legal Writing
« Reply #6 on: January 21, 2009, 02:56:30 PM »
It's funny how Americans like me so easily forget we're not the only native-English speakers on the planet. 

Texas2L

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Re: Screwed in Legal Writing
« Reply #7 on: January 21, 2009, 11:04:28 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.

mnewboldc

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Re: Screwed in Legal Writing
« Reply #8 on: March 26, 2009, 09:21:40 PM »
My first published novel was compared to the work of F. Scott Fitzgerald. I couldn't make the curve in legal writing. Legal writing, especially the "objective memo," is so far outside the sphere of what we consider textual reality prior to law school matriculation that everything goes up for grabs, and no one should rely on their prior writing "abilities" as an indication of their potential success in this medium. To be graded on a single assignment seems especially pathological. I feel your pain.
Cornell 2011

lawcougar

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Re: Screwed in Legal Writing
« Reply #9 on: April 05, 2009, 07:46:53 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.