No offered bc of work product-how can one improve writing?

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Anonymous User
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No offered bc of work product-how can one improve writing?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Aug 17, 2012 5:24 pm

Simple question. I was no offered because of work product and I am assuming that my writing skills were subpar. How does one improve their writing skills? I am not doing a journal because, frankly, I think there are much better avenues available to improve one's writing than cite checking mindlessly. Any ideas? I know Brian Gardner holds great seminars. Would RA'ing for a professor during school help?

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Aberzombie1892
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Re: No offered bc of work product-how can one improve writing?

Postby Aberzombie1892 » Fri Aug 17, 2012 5:34 pm

The best thing you can do is reread your research and writing books. Shapiro does a pretty good job.

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chadwick218
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Re: No offered bc of work product-how can one improve writing?

Postby chadwick218 » Fri Aug 17, 2012 5:41 pm

As a new associate, I worked with a number of summer associates this past summer. I found that issues had a lot less to do with their writing per se and more to do their overall organization, presentation, answering the questions asked, and grammar.

You don't need to write elaborately or write like a supreme court justice, but you do need to convey complex ideas and issues in a logical and succinct manner.

Working with a professor might actually detract from your ability to do this. Does you school offer clinics where students actively write to clients? For example, Northwestern offers a small business opportunities clinic. This clinic is great for those looking to improve their practical, real-world writing skills.

I should caution that every provided above is from the viewpoint of a young corporate/tax associate who actively writes to senior partners and clients.

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Re: No offered bc of work product-how can one improve writing?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Aug 17, 2012 5:53 pm

chadwick218 wrote:As a new associate, I worked with a number of summer associates this past summer. I found that issues had a lot less to do with their writing per se and more to do their overall organization, presentation, answering the questions asked, and grammar.

You don't need to write elaborately or write like a supreme court justice, but you do need to convey complex ideas and issues in a logical and succinct manner.

Working with a professor might actually detract from your ability to do this. Does you school offer clinics where students actively write to clients? For example, Northwestern offers a small business opportunities clinic. This clinic is great for those looking to improve their practical, real-world writing skills.

I should caution that every provided above is from the viewpoint of a young corporate/tax associate who actively writes to senior partners and clients.


Thank you for the advice. I'll be sure to check to see if my school does have such a clinic. However, I'm worried bc getting no-offered on the basis of work product indicates there is something seriously wrong w my writing. However, the reviews this summer were fairly positive w regard to my writing "style"...I'm just not sure where to go from here

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sunynp
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Re: No offered bc of work product-how can one improve writing?

Postby sunynp » Fri Aug 17, 2012 5:59 pm

Can you get any more specific input from an associate you worked with? Just tell them what you wrote here, you sound sincere and I think you might be able to get some advice.

Did you proofread your work carefully? Was it timely? Hard to know what to advise.

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Re: No offered bc of work product-how can one improve writing?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Aug 17, 2012 6:01 pm

My main fear coming into law school was my weakness in writing. Good writing can be learned. Starting out, I was probably one of the worst writers. After persistently reading grammar and legal writing books over two years, I received excellent reviews on my writing, among the best the attorneys have seen. So if I can do it (and believe me, my writing was very bad), then you can as well. It'll take some time, though.

Myself
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.

Postby Myself » Fri Aug 17, 2012 9:33 pm

.
Last edited by Myself on Wed Nov 20, 2013 12:27 am, edited 1 time in total.

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traehekat
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Re: No offered bc of work product-how can one improve writing?

Postby traehekat » Fri Aug 17, 2012 9:51 pm

ajax adonis wrote:Work for a judge who will let you do a lot of writing. I was doing legal research and writing everyday while preparing court orders. It's a great way to get practice by doing.


+1.

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Re: No offered bc of work product-how can one improve writing?

Postby anon168 » Fri Aug 17, 2012 11:13 pm

Read the Op-Ed pages of the NYT, LAT, WaPo, WSJ. Not for content, but for style and persuasiveness, as well as for structure and organization.

Then take it a step further. After reading a particular Op-Ed piece, try to write a rebuttal. Then give both pieces of work (the original Op-Ed and yours) edited of any signs of authorship to another person and ask them which side they agree with most. If they agree with you, you've done a good job. If they don't, keep working at it.

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Re: No offered bc of work product-how can one improve writing?

Postby zomginternets » Sat Aug 18, 2012 12:26 am

Seminars and Advanced Legal Writing Courses

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Re: No offered bc of work product-how can one improve writing?

Postby anon5225 » Sat Aug 18, 2012 1:58 am

anon168 wrote:Read the Op-Ed pages of the NYT, LAT, WaPo, WSJ. Not for content, but for style and persuasiveness, as well as for structure and organization.

Then take it a step further. After reading a particular Op-Ed piece, try to write a rebuttal. Then give both pieces of work (the original Op-Ed and yours) edited of any signs of authorship to another person and ask them which side they agree with most. If they agree with you, you've done a good job. If they don't, keep working at it.



This is very good advice. To get even more out of it, I would add this:

Try to see if you can categorize each paragraph in some way. For instance, writing "intro--shows idea by doing X." Then, "paragraph supporting idea introduced in X paragraph, and leading in to Y idea" Try to mimic the structure that you piece together when you write the rebuttal.

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grrrstick
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Re: No offered bc of work product-how can one improve writing?

Postby grrrstick » Sat Aug 18, 2012 2:14 am

The only way to improve your writing is to read a lot. Take note when you read a sentence that is really excellent. How does it convey its meaning effectively?

Op-ed pages are fine, but even in the supposedly high end publications they vary wildly in quality. Journalists are good at writing short sentences, though, and that is a skill worth learning. Sometimes reading classics is your best bet because they contain writing techniques which are generally agreed to be good. For instance, if you need help with complex sentence structure, read Eliot or Dickens. If you are having trouble articulating the steps to your conclusion, read old school philosophy. Aquinas in particular reads a lot like legal writing because he generally moves from a basic premise through the logical steps to arrive at a conclusion.

Finally, read and apply "Politics and the English Language" (https://www.mtholyoke.edu/acad/intrel/orwell46.htm). The essay discusses "language as an instrument for expressing and not for concealing or preventing thought." If you were never exposed to it in high school, it is extremely helpful.

Anonymous Loser
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Re: No offered bc of work product-how can one improve writing?

Postby Anonymous Loser » Sat Aug 18, 2012 2:46 am

grrrstick wrote:The only way to improve your writing is to read a lot. Take note when you read a sentence that is really excellent. How does it convey its meaning effectively?

Op-ed pages are fine, but even in the supposedly high end publications they vary wildly in quality. Journalists are good at writing short sentences, though, and that is a skill worth learning. Sometimes reading classics is your best bet because they contain writing techniques which are generally agreed to be good. For instance, if you need help with complex sentence structure, read Eliot or Dickens. If you are having trouble articulating the steps to your conclusion, read old school philosophy. Aquinas in particular reads a lot like legal writing because he generally moves from a basic premise through the logical steps to arrive at a conclusion.

Finally, read and apply "Politics and the English Language" (https://www.mtholyoke.edu/acad/intrel/orwell46.htm). The essay discusses "language as an instrument for expressing and not for concealing or preventing thought." If you were never exposed to it in high school, it is extremely helpful.


Jesus Christ. Do not do any of these things. Reading "The Wasteland" will not improve your legal writing.

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The Valkyrie
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Re: No offered bc of work product-how can one improve writing?

Postby The Valkyrie » Sat Aug 18, 2012 5:39 am

Practice, practice, practice.

I got a bad grade in my 1L writing class so I took two advanced writing courses as soon as I could my 2nd year. My writing improved tremendously. It took a lot of work and breaking old habits (which, I don't know if you heard but they die hard). Worth it. Writing well is now something that I have a bit of a reputation for, which is amazing for a young lawyer to realize. Sorry for the explanabrag.

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Re: No offered bc of work product-how can one improve writing?

Postby GertrudePerkins » Sat Aug 18, 2012 11:10 am

Anonymous Loser wrote:
grrrstick wrote:The only way to improve your writing is to read a lot. Take note when you read a sentence that is really excellent. How does it convey its meaning effectively?

Op-ed pages are fine, but even in the supposedly high end publications they vary wildly in quality. Journalists are good at writing short sentences, though, and that is a skill worth learning. Sometimes reading classics is your best bet because they contain writing techniques which are generally agreed to be good. For instance, if you need help with complex sentence structure, read Eliot or Dickens. If you are having trouble articulating the steps to your conclusion, read old school philosophy. Aquinas in particular reads a lot like legal writing because he generally moves from a basic premise through the logical steps to arrive at a conclusion.

Finally, read and apply "Politics and the English Language" (https://www.mtholyoke.edu/acad/intrel/orwell46.htm). The essay discusses "language as an instrument for expressing and not for concealing or preventing thought." If you were never exposed to it in high school, it is extremely helpful.


Jesus Christ. Do not do any of these things. Reading "The Wasteland" will not improve your legal writing.
Given the pairing with Dickens, I'm pretty sure grrrstick meant George, not T.S. Still, plowing through Middlemarch might not be the most efficient way to improve one's legal writing.

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vamedic03
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Re: No offered bc of work product-how can one improve writing?

Postby vamedic03 » Sat Aug 18, 2012 1:42 pm

(1) Practice writing - do a school year internship with a local USAO, DA's office, FPD, etc, and try to write a memo or brief every week. Get someone to heavily redline it and learn from their editing.

(2) Read long form articles - no one has time to read Dickens, philosophy, etc., but you should be able to make time to read one article from the likes of the New Yorker each week. Slate.com links a group of articles each saturday from the longform.org archives that focus on a theme. Pick one of those articles to read each week. Some will be excellent, some will not be so good, but it will improve your writing. Also, read David Foster Wallace's writings.

(3) Edit other people's work. You can learn a lot by fixing other people's mistakes.

(4) Make sure that whatever you write goes through at least two drafts. When you work on a second draft, you should be completely re-writing based on your changes to the first draft, not just making little changes here and there.

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Re: No offered bc of work product-how can one improve writing?

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Aug 18, 2012 8:35 pm

OP here. Told my writing was essentially well organized, crisp and easy to read. However, my analysis was underdeveloped and essentially was not useful to the supervising attorneys. Told this was definitely an issue that can be fixed and a skill that comes with time.

However, if a firm invest ~$20,000 into a SA and they dump him on an issue that is fixable, I can't help but think there's something else. Who knows. Lesson learned, though. When given assignments, REALLY think trough the issues. I like the suggestion above about reading Op Ed articles.

Renzo
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Re: No offered bc of work product-how can one improve writing?

Postby Renzo » Sat Aug 18, 2012 9:30 pm

Anonymous User wrote:OP here. Told my writing was essentially well organized, crisp and easy to read. However, my analysis was underdeveloped and essentially was not useful to the supervising attorneys. Told this was definitely an issue that can be fixed and a skill that comes with time.

However, if a firm invest ~$20,000 into a SA and they dump him on an issue that is fixable, I can't help but think there's something else. Who knows. Lesson learned, though. When given assignments, REALLY think trough the issues. I like the suggestion above about reading Op Ed articles.


Given that it appears your writing was not the problem, but rather your legal analysis, I would try to do anything and everything that will involve practical lawyering skills with your remaining law school time. Try to intern part time for a judge, try to get into a clinic, moot court, or anything else where someone will be evaluating work product that is non-academic. It is a skill that can be learned, but law school will not do anything to teach it to you, so you're going to need to seek out opportunities to learn.




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