Introduction to the Third Circuit Review: Advice to Law Review Writers

12 Pages Posted: 17 Jun 2009 Last revised: 22 Jun 2009

See all articles by Ruggero J. Aldisert

Ruggero J. Aldisert

United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit

Date Written: 1985


This introduction to the twelfth annual Third Circuit Review offers some targeted suggestions to law review writers. It is a valuable exercise to expose appellate opinions to intelligent and thoughtful analysis. As a student of the judicial process, however, I offer two modest suggestions that may increase the quality of professional criticism. If opinion writing is a fine art, writing a criticism is a finer one. First, it is essential that the analyst pinpoint the exact legal dispute between the parties. Second, if the critic cases stones at the opinion writer's reasoning, the stone thrower should recognize the distinctions among the court's reasoning process, the weight given to the arguments, and the court's exercise of value judgement. To implement these suggestions, the critic must fully understand the nature of the judicial decisionmaking process, as well as the sophisticated structure of "legal reasoning."

Those who take the time to prepare criticisms of judicial opinions make a valuable contribution to the law. But, be as careful in your criticism of opinions as you would have the authors be. A professional critic, student or practitioner, is a pathologist of the law, performing post-mortems. Always be certain that you examine the entire anatomy of the opinion, that you know the proper nomenclature for all its relevant parts, and that your examination is thorough enough and accurate enough to identify and justify your observations. If you do this, you will be preserving the tradition of the American law review at its finest.

Keywords: Third Circuit, review, Aldisert, opinion writing, legal scholarship, legal writing, law reviews, legal criticism, judges, judging, judicial process, judiciary, jurisprudence, federal courts, courts

Suggested Citation

Aldisert, Ruggero J., Introduction to the Third Circuit Review: Advice to Law Review Writers (1985). Villanova Law Review, Vol. 30, No. 828, 1985, Available at SSRN:

Ruggero J. Aldisert (Contact Author)

United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit ( email )

601 Market Street
Philadelphia, PA
United States

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