The Comparative Benefits of Standalone Email Assignments in the First-Year Legal Writing Curriculum

The Journal of the Legal Writing Institute, Vol. 22, 2018

37 Pages Posted: 29 Nov 2018

See all articles by Joe Fore

Joe Fore

University of Virginia School of Law

Date Written: Spring 2018

Abstract

Many of today’s law school graduates lack the practical skills that they need to thrive as practicing lawyers. As a result, it is incumbent on law schools — and, specifically, legal writing programs — to redouble their efforts to prepare law students for the realities of modern legal practice. And perhaps no feature of modern legal practice has been more striking than the rapid rise of email as a means of professional communication. Driven by its speed, efficiency, and convenience over the traditional, formal memorandum, email is now the most popular way for lawyers to provide legal advice. As a result, teaching effective email practices is no longer optional.

After a somewhat slow start, email has received increased attention in legal writing scholarship and pedagogy in recent years, and email assignments have be-come a mainstay in many first-year legal writing programs. But while there have been many suggestions about the types of email assignments that could be used, there has been little principled discussion of which types of email assignments should be used and what purposes the different types of email assignments serve.

This Article attempts to contribute to this discussion with several specific goals. First, the Article reiterates the point that email assignments should be an integral part of the first-year legal writing curriculum. Second, it establishes a very basic taxonomy of e-mail assignments and examines the benefits of each type. Third, it argues that relying solely on email assignments that are set in the context of a larger memo assignment may miss opportunities to help students fully develop specific research, analytical, and writing skills that they are likely to need in practice. Lastly, the Article suggests a specific type of email assignment — the “Procedural E-memo” — as an efficient tool for helping students develop a range of practical research, analytical, and writing skills that they are likely to use in sending emails in practice.

Keywords: legal writing, email, pedagogy, legal instruction, legal skills, legal research

Suggested Citation

Fore, Joe, The Comparative Benefits of Standalone Email Assignments in the First-Year Legal Writing Curriculum (Spring 2018). The Journal of the Legal Writing Institute, Vol. 22, 2018, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3277729 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3277729

Joe Fore (Contact Author)

University of Virginia School of Law ( email )

580 Massie Road
Charlottesville, VA 22903
United States

Here is the Coronavirus
related research on SSRN

Paper statistics

Downloads
28
Abstract Views
250
PlumX Metrics