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Author Topic: Brushing up my writing skills  (Read 1938 times)

MuMuGuy

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Brushing up my writing skills
« on: April 23, 2009, 04:56:49 PM »
What would be a good way for me to begin learning legal writing? I know that legal writing is completely different than the type of writing I did for my Political Science degree. Are there any books or classes I should take over the summer so that I know what the hell I'm doing legal writing wise before my 1L year? Thanks

sheltron5000

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Re: Brushing up my writing skills
« Reply #1 on: April 23, 2009, 05:03:24 PM »
My biggest problem is just getting the words down on the page, it takes me forever. So my plan is just to spend way too much time on these message boards and just practice writing as much as I can. ;)
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bl825

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Re: Brushing up my writing skills
« Reply #2 on: April 23, 2009, 06:18:35 PM »
My suggestion is to figure out all the instances where you use a long word where a short word works just as well and to learn to use short words in those instances.
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Matthies

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Re: Brushing up my writing skills
« Reply #3 on: April 23, 2009, 06:23:40 PM »
If you can find a copy of “Legal Argument: The Structure and Language of Effective Advocacy by James Garner” it’s a pretty good overview of what the points are to general legal writing, how to make your argument and how to make it best in writing. It does two things: explains how lawyers construct legal arguments and then how to put that in writing in a way meant to persuade legal decision makers to your side.

It’s more about how to organize your ideas and put them on paper and make them the most appealing than it is how to write a memo or a brief, so it should not interfere with whatever you particular LRW teacher wants you to do. It will just give you a big picture understanding of how to make a persuasive legal argument on paper (more focused towards briefs then memos, you will likely do memos first, which are informative, but usually not persuasive focused).

Also the “Redbook: An Manual of Legal Style by Bryan Garner”  is a great style book stuff like when to capitalize court, when to use the serial comma, when to spell our numbers, as well as basic grammar and punctuation rules. Good source book to have on your desk while doing LRW assignments.
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Matthies

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Re: Brushing up my writing skills
« Reply #4 on: April 23, 2009, 06:25:38 PM »
My suggestion is to figure out all the instances where you use a long word where a short word works just as well and to learn to use short words in those instances.

like "times" instead of instances?  :P
*In clinical studies, Matthies was well tolerated, but women who are pregnant, nursing or might become pregnant should not take or handle Matthies due to a rare, but serious side effect called him having to make child support payments.

bl825

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Re: Brushing up my writing skills
« Reply #5 on: April 23, 2009, 06:28:40 PM »
Places might work better than either.
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sheltron5000

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Re: Brushing up my writing skills
« Reply #6 on: April 23, 2009, 08:07:23 PM »
I think instances is the best choice, it captures the meanings of both times and places. :P
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TruOne

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Re: Brushing up my writing skills
« Reply #7 on: April 25, 2009, 12:08:21 AM »
Simple: Wait until your LRW Professor TELLS you how they want you to write.

If you aren't in school yet, then don't waste your time learning bad habits that will have to be UNLEARNED once you get in school. Two Law Professors at the same school will require different things from their students during the course of the semester.
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AgreeToDisagree

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Re: Brushing up my writing skills
« Reply #8 on: April 25, 2009, 12:22:03 AM »
Simple: Wait until your LRW Professor TELLS you how they want you to write.

If you aren't in school yet, then don't waste your time learning bad habits that will have to be UNLEARNED once you get in school. Two Law Professors at the same school will require different things from their students during the course of the semester.

Word.
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Matthies

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Re: Brushing up my writing skills
« Reply #9 on: April 25, 2009, 08:56:09 AM »
Simple: Wait until your LRW Professor TELLS you how they want you to write.

If you aren't in school yet, then don't waste your time learning bad habits that will have to be UNLEARNED once you get in school. Two Law Professors at the same school will require different things from their students during the course of the semester.

I disagree some things will remain the same across LWR programs, mainly grammar, style, punctuation, capitalization, when to use the serial comma etc. Hence the recommendation of a style book. During your LRW class is not the time to brush up on your basic grammar rules, do that over the summer.  Also I think LRW at least to style (avoid passive voice, short over long words, not using the same words over and over again) and construction (start with your best point, bury bad points in the middle etc.) which again, remain the same across classes, is one of the easiest things in law school to improve on, if you have the time, which one won’t once LRW actually starts.
*In clinical studies, Matthies was well tolerated, but women who are pregnant, nursing or might become pregnant should not take or handle Matthies due to a rare, but serious side effect called him having to make child support payments.