Writing advice is easy to give, but hard to follow. This is mainly due to the fact that writing requires enormous discipline. Below are six basic principles that provide structure for the writing process. They are not specific to academic writing or legal writing in particular, but can be particularly useful in a law school where writing time is a precious commodity. Over the years, these guidelines have given me the discipline to start and finish a student note alongside other academic texts. While some have a greater ability to speak than others, good writing is not natural. It comes from practice – and rewriting. However, practicing patterns of good writing without it is useless. You should read other legal writers carefully, both for their analysis and for their style. As a starting point, find sources that inspire your intellectual juice and keep adding the list over time. Read and analyze how these authors present their topic and communicate their thesis.
Take a close look at their argument architecture, lexicon, and sentence structure. In short, read them both as lawyers and as writers. Emulate (but of course do not copy). In addition, you can benefit from style guides that include specific legal writing guidelines (e.g., Bryan Garner`s Legal Writing in Plain English). Avoid legal language. A student grade should not be read as a law exam or a letter. This advice is due to a former mentor who repeated it like a mantra. Whether you`re a blunder, a refiner, or somewhere in between, we often fall in love with our own prose, unable to let go of a biting phrase or an ingenious twist. However, editing is the key to good writing, and you shouldn`t be afraid to leave material on the editing room floor. Even if you know how you write, writing can be a difficult process.
Your energy comes in crises and flare-ups, your love for your subject grows and fades. If you encounter an obstacle, change it. Sometimes very simple changes can give you a boost. If I have problems, I change the fonts or change the spacing from single to double. Often the effect is just to alienate the text so that you see it differently. If the writer`s block persists and the words escape you, take a break. Sometimes a day or two can make a difference in how the argument is read to you – logical jumps, grammatical errors, or unfortunate word choices will jump off the page. Everyone has a way of writing – when you`re most inclined to write and how you go about composing. Some of us are “blunders”. We write and write and write. Later, we will process and “reduce” the surplus. We refine our ideas as we write, often repeating the same thoughts in different forms until we find the right wording.
Others are “refiners” who simply write a few sentences or a paragraph, then revise and polish it to perfection before moving on. Similarly, you can have a natural rhythm when it comes to the time of day when your writing seems to flow most easily. A friend of mine prefers to write in the morning before drinking tea or coffee, using what I call the “carrot” method of motivation. Put yourself in the reader`s shoes and ask yourself if the sentence/paragraph/section is really essential. Because we often think we know what our words mean, we don`t realize that our readers may not find our thoughts so crystalline. Distort your own handwriting by putting the text away, or it may be helpful to print it and proofread it in paper form. The words are different on the page and on the computer screen. Finally, avoid the footnote fetish as a last resort for material that should be cut. It`s a cliché, but it`s true that less is often more. RAIC stands for the “Issue, Rule, Application, Conclusion” structure of legal analysis. An effective essay follows a form of RAIC structure in which it is organized around a “problem,” a “rule,” an “application,” and a “conclusion” for each individual problem and sub-problem identified as a legal problem.
Respect your writing style; Recognizing your way of working is important to maximize it. It may be pointless to try to write against your natural rhythm. When I`m trying to refine my writing, or when I`m writing in the middle of the afternoon, I produce very little. Identify and indicate the legal conclusion that the court should reach, One of the most difficult tasks of a student writer is to find a topic and narrow down the thesis. The student`s grade is quite short – and since you need to provide general information to your generalist readers, there is little room for a full analysis. Therefore, you should address a very discreet question. But in my experience, the subject is the most difficult task facing a student writer. While using the RAIC does not guarantee an “A” from the professor, it is extremely helpful in organizing a response.
And while this isn`t the only way to structure an answer, it helps ensure that all bases are covered. So until you reach the level of mental and written fluency where you can weave rules and facts into a seamless network and transition between thoughts without losing your substance or reader, I highly recommend relying on some form of RAIC to stay focused. While the RAIC never covers a lack of knowledge or replaces a lack of analysis, you can use it as a tool to organize your thinking and writing. Think of it as a support scaffolding (or drive wheels) to make sure the necessary steps are followed. Once the process becomes instinctive, the props can be thrown away and you can weave the rule and facts together. But by then, you`ll have something you can count on to guide you through the process. However, there is a danger of always giving in to the first resistance to writing. Writing is hard work. It takes perseverance and perseverance. Force yourself to write for at least 10-15 minutes. A mentor liked to say, “Get in the chair and don`t get up.” As with exercise, the thought of writing is sometimes more painful than actual practice, and once you start, you find that it`s easier than expected.
“Weil” is the most important word in writing the analysis. Using the word “because” forces you to make the connection between the rule and the facts. You will find that you can also use the words “as” and “since”, they perform the same function as “because”. Some professors may not want to see this language – the question is if. ” you get the same result with other words “Did” or “Can”, for example. Don`t fixate on the tongue. Follow your teacher`s instructions and find that in both cases you will get the same result: the identification of the legal problem. For most students, the grade is their first experience with publishable academic writing. In college, sleepless nights can produce passable session work, but this approach certainly won`t be enough here.
Also, writing exams doesn`t really prepare you for legal academic writing. Instead, good academic writing requires regular practice. Law school is not much help here, as periods of work on one`s degree are too often isolated and dispersed due to time constraints imposed by classes, journal work, clinics, and extracurricular activities. You can do directed research to create a block of time for the grade, or write your note to meet the writing requirements of a seminar. The winter break is also a good time to make substantial progress on a first draft. In any case, you should try to work regularly on the note so as not to lose momentum and concentration. You should be able to formulate your thesis in one or two sentences maximum. Anything longer suggests that the topic is too heavy for a student note or, more likely, that the author still hasn`t fully understood the nature of the project.
Marrow and not protraction should be your goal. If you can formulate your thesis in a single sentence, this clarity and conciseness will guide you through the writing process and help you avoid unfortunate aberrations or excesses of material that are not essential to the argument. Simply put, if you can`t summarize your grade in one or two sentences, you don`t have a thesis. While some have a greater ability to speak than others, good writing is not natural. It comes from practice – and rewriting. Note: Repeat the process for each identified issue – each issue forms the basis of a separate RAIC analysis. then connect to the “relevant” facts (the relevant facts are the facts that will determine the outcome) when he pushed Pam even though he knew she was not at risk of being hit by the cyclist (or when he said, “Would you buy my watch next Tuesday for $500 in cash?” or when the defendant was doing business in Forum State, had a full-time office and staff, and paid state taxes.) What you need to write: In this case, Pete, the police officer, realized that Dan matched the suspect`s description, which provided a likely reason for the arrest because Dan was extremely tall at 6`4 and was wearing a green and light brown sweater with purple spots and pointed alligator cowboy boots, corresponding to the description of the eyewitness of the flight. Examples of how “weil” works to change recitation into application: But you can always use the following language to guide your thought process. What not to write: In this case, while Pete, the policeman, was giving Dan a sobriety test, he noticed that Dan matched an eyewitness` description of the robbery, giving the officer a likely reason to arrest Dan.