Monday, October 27, 2008

Why legal writing matters

WritingRick Garnett contests a point that Jason Solomon made recently on MoneyLaw: legal writing is too important to consign to third-year law students. In commentary on Rick's Prawfsblawg post, Larry Rosenthal makes some powerful points:

    Larry Rosenthal
  1. Legal writing is an awfully important skill. It is probably the only skill that employers will expect recent graduates to have . . . .

  2. Successful legal writing is a difficult skill to learn. I spent many years supervising young lawyers in a rather sophisticated appellate practice. Rarely did a recent graduate display much competence until after at least a year of work. . . .

  3. It is extremely unlikely that someone who has cannot write well will be [a] successful teacher of legal writing. Yet, substantial experience is generally a necessary if not sufficient condition for being able to write well. . . .

  4. The typical 3L has very little writing experience — the 1L [legal research and writing] curriculum, maybe a law review note, and a few memos produced at a summer job that probably were not very good.

  5. A law school that hires individuals with enough experience to have a high level of briefwriting skills and the ability to teach them will confer on its students a substantial advantage in the job market.

That last point, it bears remembering, goes to the heart of why law students burn a thousand days and often incur more than $100,000 in undischargeable debt: to get jobs.

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