Legal Writing Missteps: Ethics and Professionalism in the First Year Legal Research and Writing Classroom
Kristen E. Murray
Temple University - James E. Beasley School of Law
June 6, 2012
Perspectives: Teaching Legal Res. & Writing, Vol. 20, p. 134, 2012
Temple University Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2012-30
These days, a lot of legal writing-related mistakes and errors in judgment draw a great deal of media scrutiny and attention — attention that spreads quickly in a digital environment. Legal writing professors have long recognized these as teaching moments, usually in the form of cautionary tales shared with students. More and more, as a community, the legal writing professoriate has recognized the importance of integrating ethics and professionalism into the legal writing classroom; indeed in some instances, it is impossible to separate these concepts. Although the ABA requires law students to take a professional responsibility course, and many professors incorporate a discussion of ethics and professional conduct in other courses, these concepts are rarely integrated across the curriculum as key components of a law student’s academic experience.
With this in mind, I decided to try and use practical stories about “legal writing gone bad” to bring a discussion of ethics and professionalism into the first year course in a thoughtful, meaningful way. This article discusses the theoretical basis for incorporating ethics and professionalism in the first year course, and presents an exercise I developed for my first year legal research and writing students called “Legal Writing Missteps.”
Number of Pages in PDF File: 14
Keywords: ethics, professionalism, professional responsibility, legal writing, law school, legal research and writing
JEL Classification: K00
Date posted: June 6, 2012 ; Last revised: January 1, 2013
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