How to ace legal writing
September 30, 2021
As the new academic year gets underway, you may be among the 1L students who are quickly adapting to the long reading assignments and the late nights of case work. You may also be adjusting to your first legal writing course, where you’re expected to learn to research and write like a lawyer all in one semester. It’s daunting.
If you’re freaking out even a little, don’t worry, 1L, you’re not alone.
Drum roll, please! Introducing your guide to acing your first-year legal writing course! (And for those of you who snoozed through your first-year legal writing course, here’s a brief refresher.)
Take this seriously
Legal research, writing, and analysis usually consists of conducting a lot of research on a legal issue, writing a brief or a memo, and arguing your case to “judges,” who are usually your course professors. Some lawyers consider it to be one of the most important classes law students take in their entire law school experience because it teaches a glimpse of practical experience rather than textbook knowledge. If the people hiring new lawyers think it’s important, you need to take it seriously.
“I write every day in my practice,” said Dylan O. Drummond, counsel at Gray Reed in Dallas. “As an appellate lawyer, 90 percent of my job description is legal writing.”
This isn’t true only for appellate lawyers. All lawyers do some form of
legal writing 90 percent of the time.
“Most times I’m preparing a brief to an appellate court,” explained Drummond. “Other times, my legal writing may be consumed by dispositive trial court briefings or even correspondence to courts or opposing counsel. Learning to be precise, clear, credible, and easy to read in my legal writing is crucial, no matter who the audience may be.”