Law School Discussion

how to work on writing before the law school starts?

Hank Rearden

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Re: how to work on writing before the law school starts?
« Reply #10 on: May 13, 2007, 10:48:43 PM »
"I will start at UC Hastings in a few months and, since I was raised overseas, I am very worried about my writing skills. How can I try to improve them? Should I sign up for some writing classes at a local community college?"

That one's free.


The comma should be after "months," not after "and." 
Technically commas belong in both places, the first to separate independent clauses, the second to set off a parenthetical phrase, but usually one is dropped for reasons of fluidity. It seems "The Elements of Style" would choose yours, so I guess I was searching too eagerly for things to change.

That's where it becomes hazy.  Sometimes the comma is optional.  Sometimes it is not.  The comma after "months" should be there, but the other one is optional and does disrupt the flow, and IMO you shouldn't include optional commas when they disrupt flow. 

But I like both commas.  >:(

Then you most likely have a skewed perception of flow and are not a good writer. 

.zone.

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Re: how to work on writing before the law school starts?
« Reply #11 on: May 13, 2007, 10:53:53 PM »
"I will start at UC Hastings in a few months and, since I was raised overseas, I am very worried about my writing skills. How can I try to improve them? Should I sign up for some writing classes at a local community college?"

That one's free.


The comma should be after "months," not after "and." 
Technically commas belong in both places, the first to separate independent clauses, the second to set off a parenthetical phrase, but usually one is dropped for reasons of fluidity. It seems "The Elements of Style" would choose yours, so I guess I was searching too eagerly for things to change.

That's where it becomes hazy.  Sometimes the comma is optional.  Sometimes it is not.  The comma after "months" should be there, but the other one is optional and does disrupt the flow, and IMO you shouldn't include optional commas when they disrupt flow. 

But I like both commas.  >:(

Then you most likely have a skewed perception of flow and are not a good writer. 

 :D Fair enough.  It wouldn't bother me so much if there was only one comma as long as it came before "and"...but I agree with the last poster.  It's just because of the way I am interpreting the sentence...they do have slightly different meanings depending on the place of the comma.

Hank Rearden

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Re: how to work on writing before the law school starts?
« Reply #12 on: May 13, 2007, 10:59:39 PM »
"I will start at UC Hastings in a few months and, since I was raised overseas, I am very worried about my writing skills. How can I try to improve them? Should I sign up for some writing classes at a local community college?"

That one's free.


The comma should be after "months," not after "and." 
Technically commas belong in both places, the first to separate independent clauses, the second to set off a parenthetical phrase, but usually one is dropped for reasons of fluidity. It seems "The Elements of Style" would choose yours, so I guess I was searching too eagerly for things to change.

That's where it becomes hazy.  Sometimes the comma is optional.  Sometimes it is not.  The comma after "months" should be there, but the other one is optional and does disrupt the flow, and IMO you shouldn't include optional commas when they disrupt flow. 

But I like both commas.  >:(

Then you most likely have a skewed perception of flow and are not a good writer. 

Not funny.

Stick with fudging up your political science ;)


Generally I'm more proud of my writing than of my politics. 

Hank Rearden

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Re: how to work on writing before the law school starts?
« Reply #13 on: May 13, 2007, 11:54:29 PM »


Generally I'm more proud of my writing than of my politics. 


Though not your critical skills, I see.



 ???

Re: how to work on writing before the law school starts?
« Reply #14 on: May 13, 2007, 11:54:45 PM »
I don't think ANYONE knows how to use commas correctly. It's a mythical skill.
Learn the difference between "it's" and "its", and know when each should be used. (Same for you're/your, their/they're/there, hear/here, etc.) In addition, know when contractions should not be used.

Re: how to work on writing before the law school starts?
« Reply #15 on: May 13, 2007, 11:59:11 PM »
I don't think ANYONE knows how to use commas correctly. It's a mythical skill.
Learn the difference between "it's" and "its", and know when each should be used. (Same for you're/your, their/they're/there, hear/here, etc.) In addition, know when contractions should not be used.
All available evidence would support that he already does.

Re: how to work on writing before the law school starts?
« Reply #16 on: May 14, 2007, 12:08:34 AM »
I don't think ANYONE knows how to use commas correctly. It's a mythical skill.
Learn the difference between "it's" and "its", and know when each should be used. (Same for you're/your, their/they're/there, hear/here, etc.) In addition, know when contractions should not be used.
All available evidence would support that he already does.
Actually, considering I added the single quote in the initial quoted portion, all available evidence would not support your statement in all cases. (I made the quote red and bold, but it's still tiny and difficult to tell.) Instead, evidence would support that there are at least some instances where the OP does not know either how to use properly or does not choose to use properly the contraction "it's."

Brushing up on the rules of English grammar will not teach you legal writing. Correct use of the English grammar rules will help you as you learn legal writing.

road

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Re: how to work on writing before the law school starts?
« Reply #17 on: May 14, 2007, 07:39:24 AM »
Brushing up on the rules of English grammar will not teach you legal writing. Correct use of the English grammar rules will help you as you learn legal writing.

Agreed. One's writing can be grammatically correct but still lousy, just like someone can be a great writer and not know the difference between its and it's. Grammar is important to know but it's not the most essential part of good writing.

tuya:
If you can take a writing class this summer without too much hardship, I would suggest you do so. Solid writing skills will benefit you throughout your career and it would be nice to take a writing class without being overwhelmed by everything else going on in law school.

Another suggestion is to read lots of good, solid writing. Consider "The Atlantic Monthly" and "The New Yorker" and a top national newspaper like "The New York Times" or "The Washington Post."

Re: how to work on writing before the law school starts?
« Reply #18 on: May 14, 2007, 09:58:04 AM »
If you can't take a class, get Elements of Style by Strunk and White. It basically goes over a bunch of grammar rules, and I've heard its helpful even for people who grew up in the U.S. and think they've got the writing thing down. It goes over the rules for commas, etc.

likewise

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Re: how to work on writing before the law school starts?
« Reply #19 on: May 14, 2007, 07:42:11 PM »
I just finished 1L and can confirm that one NOT need be able to write a grammatically correct sentence in English to get the "A." The best writers do not get the best grades: the best legal writers do.  Legal writing, as can be discovered reading a few cases and briefs, requires no knowledge of grammar, punctuation, or style.  Lawyers and judges just do whatever they want.  Key is structure, signposting, and clarity of thought.