While the practice of law is often equated with writing, many law courses involve little or no writing during the semester, and often only require writing in student assessment. While accredited law schools are required to offer both first-year legal writing instruction and a rigorous writing experience during the second or third year,2 few law schools infuse legal writing throughout a student's three years of law school matriculation. While significant attention is given to the breadth of law taught in law school, more attention must be given to the depth of this knowledge and the application of this knowledge to discrete legal problems. Legal writing, particularly writing in a practice context, is a unique tool for learning about the law and building professional competence. Through writing, law students engage themselves, and often others, in discrete legal matters and are afforded an opportunity for individual critique and instruction. As such, the process of legal writing helps those new to the practice of law to further their knowledge of law and enhance their development as legal professionals. ...
This Article discusses how legal educators can make better use of legal skills practice, specifically legal writing practice opportunities, to expedite the professional development of those new to the practice of law. While there has been significant discussion about expanding the existing law school curriculum," consideration should also be given to ways that law schools might improve upon current methods of teaching. Part I will define what law firms" mean when they say that graduating law students should be more practice-ready, and consider whether this is in fact a viable goal. Part II will define "good legal writing"" and explain what is required for a writer to achieve a high level of proficiency. Part III will discuss how legal writing practice helps legal novices not only to improve their basic writing abilities, but also to develop their professional expertise. Part IV asks legal educators to rethink the role of meaningful practical legal writing opportunities with expert guidance and critique as a tool for building practice competence. It further urges law schools to take a fresh look at the role of legal writing instruction in the law school curriculum, and to consider how they might make better use of legal writing opportunities to bridge the perceived gap between legal education and practice.
Keene, Sherri Lee
"One Small Step for Legal Writing, One Giant Leap for Legal Education: Making the Case for More Writing Opportunities in the "Practice-Ready" Law School Curriculum,"
Mercer Law Review: Vol. 65:
2, Article 5.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.law.mercer.edu/jour_mlr/vol65/iss2/5