A Writing Revolution: Using Legal Writing's 'Hobble' to Solve Legal Education's Problem
22 Pages Posted: 4 May 2014
Date Written: May 1, 2014
The attached article responds to a 2011 article by John Lynch, published in the Journal of Legal Education, that urged legal writing faculty to return to an outmoded and ineffective writing pedagogy, the “product approach,” on the grounds that it would make teaching legal writing easier. This article builds on the work of Carol McCrehan Parker and others interested in writing across the curriculum and argues that the only way to reduce legal writing’s “hobble” and to solve legal education’s problem is to create a six-semester writing requirement.
The reason law students are graduating without adequate preparation for practice is that law schools have failed to commit to teaching writing. Most law students graduate having been required to take only an introductory course that teaches practice-related writing skills and an upper-class seminar with a scholarly writing requirement. Law schools can no longer afford to rely on a small percentage of faculty or externships to teach the most important skill law students have to offer on graduation. Because matriculating students have less writing skill and experience than they did even a decade ago, the need for a six-semester writing requirement is that much greater.
This article then discusses a proposed writing curriculum that would not unduly burden law schools or their faculty and concludes with additional, specific recommendations for incorporating writing across the curriculum — in doctrinal and writing courses — to improve students’ metacognitive skills and their ability to transfer those skills to practice.
Keywords: legal writing, writing requirement, writing across the curriculum, process pedagogy
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