Writing Across the Curriculum: Professional Communication and the Writing that Supports It
Andrea L. McArdle
CUNY School of Law
January 27, 2011
Legal Writing, Vol. 15, p. 241, 2009
As professionals-in-training, law students must become fluent in the written forms by which legal practitioners communicate information and professional analysis to and on behalf of their clients – in various documents such as client letters, law office memoranda, and briefs to a court. Generated in the context of representing clients, formal law-practice-based writing should reflect an accurate understanding of a client’s concerns, goals, and expectations. If we agree that formal legal writing is organic to the attorney-client relationship, then helping students form a writing identity that is attentive to all dimensions of that professional relationship seems critical to a law school’s professionalizing mission. The goal of building a client-centered writing identity, then, would be to produce writing that is rigorously precise and accurate, as well as clear, engaged, evocative, and humane. To that end, legal educators need strategies that speak to the multiple contexts in which lawyers engage in client-centered professional writing. At the 2008 Annual Meeting of the Association of American Law Schools, the program I organized and chaired for the Section on Legal Writing, Reasoning, and Research considered in depth one such strategy: the set of theories and practices known as Writing across the Curriculum (WAC), an educational initiative that originated in Britain at the secondary school level in the 1960s, and was adapted to undergraduate higher education in the United States in the 1970s. This essay introduces the theme of the panel and addresses how law schools can draw productively on insights from WAC literature and practice.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 11
Keywords: legal writing, rhetoric, law and humanities, pedagogy, professional identityAccepted Paper Series
Date posted: January 27, 2011
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