Teaching Writing in Clinical, Lawyering, and Legal Writing Courses: Negotiating Professional and Personal Voice
Clinical Law Review, Vol. 12, Spring 2006
39 Pages Posted: 28 Aug 2007
This article addresses the challenge facing law students to preserve some sense of individual voice and ownership of their writing as they enter a professional discourse community and negotiate its formal structures and idioms. It conceives of this challenge as equally a project for clinical, lawyering, and legal writing teachers. Each of these teaching communities plays a role in acculturating law students to the conventions of practice-based writing and identifies strategies to help them develop confidence in their capacity as communicators. The question of student voice is particularly a consideration for clinical teachers who supervise student work in live-client settings and continually must balance the need to ensure that a student's work product meets the standard of competent representation against the educational imperative of preserving the student's individual voice and sense of personal efficacy. Informed by these considerations, the article proposes pedagogic approaches that can help emergent lawyers undertake the delicate negotiation between professional and personal voice, and argues that there is a good reason for clinical simulation-based, and legal writing pedagogies to be in conversation on the questions of cultivating individuality and bolstering confidence in student writers.
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