Getting a C in legal writing this half of 1L semester. Help.

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Allitigator
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Getting a C in legal writing this half of 1L semester. Help.

Postby Allitigator » Sun Nov 21, 2010 8:56 pm

Save the crap about the "C" grade this half of the semester.

I need some serious help so that I can raise my grade to at least a B by next year.

What are some legal writing resources at my disposal?

English and writing are not my problems. My problems seem to be structural issues related to the writing of a legal memo.

Any advice is appreciated.

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jbarl1
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Re: Getting a C in legal writing this half of 1L semester. Help.

Postby jbarl1 » Sun Nov 21, 2010 9:02 pm

One thing that has really helped me is looking at past memos and seeing what they have in common in terms of structure. Ask your professor for some A memos from the past years and use those as your template.

dakatz
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Re: Getting a C in legal writing this half of 1L semester. Help.

Postby dakatz » Sun Nov 21, 2010 9:03 pm

I found that my biggest improvements occurred when I started to pick the brains of my writing instructor to find out what he really wants on the memos. Get as much feedback as you can on this. As is the case in real practice (or as I assume will be the case), everyone has a different style and will wants memos to be a different way. Make sure you know exactly what your writing prof wants.

Also, what were your biggest issues? I'm sure you got some feedback on this. Were you unable to succinctly express the rules of law? Was your analysis not focused and sharp enough? Was your formatting and structure solid? Its hard to say, "Oh here is what you should do to improve" if we know nothing about what you have done right and wrong thus far.

Allitigator
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Re: Getting a C in legal writing this half of 1L semester. Help.

Postby Allitigator » Sun Nov 21, 2010 9:08 pm

jbarl1 wrote:One thing that has really helped me is looking at past memos and seeing what they have in common in terms of structure. Ask your professor for some A memos from the past years and use those as your template.



I'm the type of learner that needs samples to learn from. My writing prof didn't provide any. She brought one sample memo on day 1, I looked at it for 5 minutes, and then she took it away.

I'll look at my memo and summarize my errors on here.

Thanks to all.

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kalvano
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Re: Getting a C in legal writing this half of 1L semester. Help.

Postby kalvano » Sun Nov 21, 2010 9:08 pm

Outline the hell out of that bitch.

Allitigator
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Re: Getting a C in legal writing this half of 1L semester. Help.

Postby Allitigator » Sun Nov 21, 2010 9:12 pm

dakatz wrote:I found that my biggest improvements occurred when I started to pick the brains of my writing instructor to find out what he really wants on the memos. Get as much feedback as you can on this. As is the case in real practice (or as I assume will be the case), everyone has a different style and will wants memos to be a different way. Make sure you know exactly what your writing prof wants.

Also, what were your biggest issues? I'm sure you got some feedback on this. Were you unable to succinctly express the rules of law? Was your analysis not focused and sharp enough? Was your formatting and structure solid? Its hard to say, "Oh here is what you should do to improve" if we know nothing about what you have done right and wrong thus far.



My biggest issue was not interpreting my writing prof's requirements correctly. I thought I was doing things correctly, but then I got my papers and they were average at best.

My legal writing prof told me she doesn't want to give anyone As, so the fact that my grade isn't so high,doesn't surprise me.
But I'd really like samples with grades so that I can see what is an "A" memo.

theantiscalia
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Re: Getting a C in legal writing this half of 1L semester. Help.

Postby theantiscalia » Sun Nov 21, 2010 9:14 pm

I recommend a book called Legal Writing by Edwards.

That said, the best thing you can do is to talk to your teacher. I'm doing very well in the class; I'm far from the best writer, but I've mastered what she wants me to do, and as a result, I have the highest grade.

If you can get your hands on some sample papers, that is very helpful. I just emulate their structure.

I think the three biggest issues are:
1. Do not use "announcement" sentences. Put the rule of law first thing in your paragraph. You should be able to take the first sentence from every paragraph in your rule explanation and rule analysis and make a damn fine piece of writing.

Bad: The treatment of proximate cause has shifted dramatically over the past eight years.
Better: Courts now use the forseeability and scope of the risk tests to evaluate proximate cause.

2. Think strategicaly about organization. This is key; put your best arguments up front, and always be as direct and concise as possible.

3. Understand that you're writing a professional memorandum, not some flowery prose. People seem to forget that, particularly liberal arts majors. Use plain language where possible, and try to be concise.

theantiscalia
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Re: Getting a C in legal writing this half of 1L semester. Help.

Postby theantiscalia » Sun Nov 21, 2010 9:18 pm

Allitigator wrote:
dakatz wrote:I found that my biggest improvements occurred when I started to pick the brains of my writing instructor to find out what he really wants on the memos. Get as much feedback as you can on this. As is the case in real practice (or as I assume will be the case), everyone has a different style and will wants memos to be a different way. Make sure you know exactly what your writing prof wants.

Also, what were your biggest issues? I'm sure you got some feedback on this. Were you unable to succinctly express the rules of law? Was your analysis not focused and sharp enough? Was your formatting and structure solid? Its hard to say, "Oh here is what you should do to improve" if we know nothing about what you have done right and wrong thus far.



My biggest issue was not interpreting my writing prof's requirements correctly. I thought I was doing things correctly, but then I got my papers and they were average at best.

My legal writing prof told me she doesn't want to give anyone As, so the fact that my grade isn't so high,doesn't surprise me.
But I'd really like samples with grades so that I can see what is an "A" memo.


The Edwards book I recommended has samples. But feel free to PM me with your email; I'll send you a sample "A" paper from my class. (I'm at Notre Dame.)

Allitigator
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Re: Getting a C in legal writing this half of 1L semester. Help.

Postby Allitigator » Sun Nov 21, 2010 9:38 pm

theantiscalia wrote:
Allitigator wrote:
dakatz wrote:I found that my biggest improvements occurred when I started to pick the brains of my writing instructor to find out what he really wants on the memos. Get as much feedback as you can on this. As is the case in real practice (or as I assume will be the case), everyone has a different style and will wants memos to be a different way. Make sure you know exactly what your writing prof wants.

Also, what were your biggest issues? I'm sure you got some feedback on this. Were you unable to succinctly express the rules of law? Was your analysis not focused and sharp enough? Was your formatting and structure solid? Its hard to say, "Oh here is what you should do to improve" if we know nothing about what you have done right and wrong thus far.



My biggest issue was not interpreting my writing prof's requirements correctly. I thought I was doing things correctly, but then I got my papers and they were average at best.

My legal writing prof told me she doesn't want to give anyone As, so the fact that my grade isn't so high,doesn't surprise me.
But I'd really like samples with grades so that I can see what is an "A" memo.


The Edwards book I recommended has samples. But feel free to PM me with your email; I'll send you a sample "A" paper from my class. (I'm at Notre Dame.)


PM sent! Thanks.

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Unitas
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Re: Getting a C in legal writing this half of 1L semester. Help.

Postby Unitas » Sun Nov 21, 2010 11:44 pm

Allitigator wrote:
theantiscalia wrote:
Allitigator wrote:
dakatz wrote:I found that my biggest improvements occurred when I started to pick the brains of my writing instructor to find out what he really wants on the memos. Get as much feedback as you can on this. As is the case in real practice (or as I assume will be the case), everyone has a different style and will wants memos to be a different way. Make sure you know exactly what your writing prof wants.

Also, what were your biggest issues? I'm sure you got some feedback on this. Were you unable to succinctly express the rules of law? Was your analysis not focused and sharp enough? Was your formatting and structure solid? Its hard to say, "Oh here is what you should do to improve" if we know nothing about what you have done right and wrong thus far.



My biggest issue was not interpreting my writing prof's requirements correctly. I thought I was doing things correctly, but then I got my papers and they were average at best.

My legal writing prof told me she doesn't want to give anyone As, so the fact that my grade isn't so high,doesn't surprise me.
But I'd really like samples with grades so that I can see what is an "A" memo.


The Edwards book I recommended has samples. But feel free to PM me with your email; I'll send you a sample "A" paper from my class. (I'm at Notre Dame.)


PM sent! Thanks.

Bad idea to use an A paper from another professor. You need what will make your professor happy not anyone else. Like mine has specific things she cares most about and is pretty obviously going to punish people for messing up on.

Isn't your class curved? If so she doesn't choose anything about giving A's I would assume. That would defeat the purpose of a curve.

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ZXCVBNM
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Re: Getting a C in legal writing this half of 1L semester. Help.

Postby ZXCVBNM » Sun Nov 21, 2010 11:49 pm

Topic Sentences

Allitigator
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Re: Getting a C in legal writing this half of 1L semester. Help.

Postby Allitigator » Mon Nov 22, 2010 12:02 am

Unitas wrote:
Allitigator wrote:
theantiscalia wrote:
Allitigator wrote:

My biggest issue was not interpreting my writing prof's requirements correctly. I thought I was doing things correctly, but then I got my papers and they were average at best.

My legal writing prof told me she doesn't want to give anyone As, so the fact that my grade isn't so high,doesn't surprise me.
But I'd really like samples with grades so that I can see what is an "A" memo.


The Edwards book I recommended has samples. But feel free to PM me with your email; I'll send you a sample "A" paper from my class. (I'm at Notre Dame.)


PM sent! Thanks.

Bad idea to use an A paper from another professor. You need what will make your professor happy not anyone else. Like mine has specific things she cares most about and is pretty obviously going to punish people for messing up on.

Isn't your class curved? If so she doesn't choose anything about giving A's I would assume. That would defeat the purpose of a curve.


Yes. The class is curved and our grades are averaged out. If I get a C on this portion of the year-long course, it will not be the final grade. My final grade for LRW will be a combination of the fall and spring semester grades -- they will be averaged. I just want to land at somewhere in a B- to B+ range.

It is also curved, but it is better to not rely on the curve to pass the class.

Looking at other memos has helped me somewhat, as I get an idea as to what things look like. A memo shouldn't be treated like something abstract cause it really isn't.


And, I do include topic and transition sentences in their respective locations.
Last edited by Allitigator on Mon Nov 22, 2010 12:11 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Unitas
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Re: Getting a C in legal writing this half of 1L semester. Help.

Postby Unitas » Mon Nov 22, 2010 12:05 am

Allitigator wrote:
Unitas wrote:
Allitigator wrote:
theantiscalia wrote:The Edwards book I recommended has samples. But feel free to PM me with your email; I'll send you a sample "A" paper from my class. (I'm at Notre Dame.)


PM sent! Thanks.

Bad idea to use an A paper from another professor. You need what will make your professor happy not anyone else. Like mine has specific things she cares most about and is pretty obviously going to punish people for messing up on.

Isn't your class curved? If so she doesn't choose anything about giving A's I would assume. That would defeat the purpose of a curve.


Yes. The class is curved and our grades are averaged out. If I get a C on this portion of the year-long course, it will not be the final grade. My final grade for LRW will be a combination of the fall and spring semester grades -- they will be averaged. I just want to land at somewhere in a B- to B+ range.

It is also curved, but it is better to not rely on the curve to pass the class.

Looking at other memos has helped me somewhat, as I get an idea as to what things look like. A memo shouldn't be treated like something abstract cause it really isn't.


And, I do include topic and transition sentences at their respective locations.



Haha, don't stress if the C is before curve.... She probably just has everyone at average or close to it now. Ask for a curved version and see if she'll tell you... The highest grade for my LRW class "not my grades, but previous years classes" are usually around an 84 for a memo, depends on the year and section of course...

Memos aren't abstract, but your teacher's desires and wishes are. They will want something from you, and you need to deliver it whatever it is.

Allitigator
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Re: Getting a C in legal writing this half of 1L semester. Help.

Postby Allitigator » Mon Nov 22, 2010 12:10 am

Unitas wrote:
Allitigator wrote:
Unitas wrote:
Allitigator wrote:
PM sent! Thanks.

Bad idea to use an A paper from another professor. You need what will make your professor happy not anyone else. Like mine has specific things she cares most about and is pretty obviously going to punish people for messing up on.

Isn't your class curved? If so she doesn't choose anything about giving A's I would assume. That would defeat the purpose of a curve.


Yes. The class is curved and our grades are averaged out. If I get a C on this portion of the year-long course, it will not be the final grade. My final grade for LRW will be a combination of the fall and spring semester grades -- they will be averaged. I just want to land at somewhere in a B- to B+ range.

It is also curved, but it is better to not rely on the curve to pass the class.

Looking at other memos has helped me somewhat, as I get an idea as to what things look like. A memo shouldn't be treated like something abstract cause it really isn't.


And, I do include topic and transition sentences at their respective locations.



Haha, don't stress if the C is before curve.... She probably just has everyone at average or close to it now. Ask for a curved version and see if she'll tell you... The highest grade for my LRW class "not my grades, but previous years classes" are usually around an 84 for a memo, depends on the year and section of course...

Memos aren't abstract, but your teacher's desires and wishes are. They will want something from you, and you need to deliver it whatever it is.


I delivered my last memo which was written on a client dealing with federal law, and I didn't look at any samples as I wrote it. I wrote it, read it, read it again, then read it again and edited accordingly. I'm sure I'll still get a "C" for this half of the course. Really sucks! :(

I'll get to her ideas a bit more cause there is a communication gap between what she says, and what I hear.




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