Legal Writing Missteps: Ethics and Professionalism in the First Year Legal Research and Writing Classroom

Perspectives: Teaching Legal Res. & Writing, Vol. 20, p. 134, 2012

Temple University Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2012-30

14 Pages Posted: 6 Jun 2012 Last revised: 1 Jan 2013

Kristen E. Murray

Temple University - James E. Beasley School of Law

Date Written: June 6, 2012

Abstract

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.”

Keywords: ethics, professionalism, professional responsibility, legal writing, law school, legal research and writing

JEL Classification: K00

Suggested Citation

Murray, Kristen E., Legal Writing Missteps: Ethics and Professionalism in the First Year Legal Research and Writing Classroom (June 6, 2012). Perspectives: Teaching Legal Res. & Writing, Vol. 20, p. 134, 2012; Temple University Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2012-30. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2078999

Kristen E. Murray (Contact Author)

Temple University - James E. Beasley School of Law ( email )

1719 N. Broad Street
Philadelphia, PA 19122
United States
215-204-2379 (Phone)

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