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Danger Zone
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The Write On - (almost) FREE AT LAST, FREE AT LAST

Postby Danger Zone » Mon May 06, 2013 11:27 am

I know I've seen some great threads on this before, but I can't seem to find any at the moment. Could upperclassmen/alum please share advice on how to do well? We will have to do spading and also write a short note using only the information they provide us. I'm not sure I know the first thing about spading or note-writing since we've only written memos and briefs. TYIA.

Or just linking me to a thread would be great too.
Last edited by Danger Zone on Wed Jun 05, 2013 5:02 pm, edited 6 times in total.

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bk1
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Re: The Write On

Postby bk1 » Mon May 06, 2013 11:31 am

This is probably helpful: viewtopic.php?f=3&t=154439

Books: I read both the Volokh book and the Henrickson book. I didn't find them too great but they do give you some idea about what to expect and how to structure your time.

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Bikeflip
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Re: The Write On

Postby Bikeflip » Mon May 06, 2013 11:35 am

Without violating any code of conduct:

Read the instructions & all material (maybe do a first scan), understand the instructions & material, reread the material, reread the instructions, outline the material in a way that makes sense and follows the instructions, check your outline, reread the material, update your outline, reread the instructions, start writing, reread the material, double check your work, make updates, reread the material, reread the instructions, double check your work, make updates, reread the material, reread the instructions, double check your work, make updates, reread the instructions, turn in your work product in the manner you're supposed to.

TL:DR Comb over the material and your work product like a boss.

More seriously, when you're reviewing any material or the instructions against your work, go point by point. Intense rereads of the whole material just waste time, but general rescans of all the material are okay, just so you know you're not forgetting anything.

Also, make sure to give yourself time to take breaks and get drunk. Don't burn out, and don't try to do everything in 2 days. Depending on the school, you may only need to put in 8 hrs/day, which is plenty of time to do other stuff/recharge your batteries.
Last edited by Bikeflip on Mon May 06, 2013 11:44 am, edited 2 times in total.

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ph14
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Re: The Write On

Postby ph14 » Mon May 06, 2013 11:39 am

Follow directions.

lukertin
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Re: The Write On

Postby lukertin » Mon May 06, 2013 11:44 am

I followed the outline from "Law School Confidential" to the letter and that grabbed me a spot on through the Write On. What I remember doing in particular though:

For every citation, I went and looked up the governing rule(s) in the Bluebook and followed exactly what the rule says (reading the bluebook cover to cover sounds like a terrible idea)

I read the main case like 5 times.
Then I skimmed through every single case they provided and classified them in terms of common themes or legal reasoning. I read them each twice or so.
Then I re-read the main case and the other cases and marked locations tying them together.
I read the sample note like 10 times, and copied the exact structure.
Next, I outlined the note like an exam (referring the sample they give you) and began writing.
Once you finish writing, I'd revise and proof it. Take a 6+ hrs in between each proofing so you can look at it with a clear mind each time.

Take lots of breaks and relax. There's no point to stress out over this.

edit:LSC gave a little section on how to tackle the Write On. that's what i was referring to, not the exam taking tips
Last edited by lukertin on Mon May 06, 2013 12:15 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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bruinfan10
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Re: The Write On

Postby bruinfan10 » Mon May 06, 2013 11:57 am

lukertin wrote:I followed the outline from "Law School Confidential" to the letter and that grabbed me a spot on through the Write On. What I remember doing in particular though:

For every citation, I went and looked up the governing rule(s) in the Bluebook and followed exactly what the rule says (reading the bluebook cover to cover sounds like a terrible idea)

I read the main case like 5 times.
Then I skimmed through every single case they provided and classified them in terms of common themes or legal reasoning. I read them each twice or so.
Then I re-read the main case and the other cases and marked locations tying them together.
I read the sample note like 10 times, and copied the exact structure.
Next, I outlined the note like an exam (referring the sample they give you) and began writing.
Once you finish writing, I'd revise and proof it. Take a 6+ hrs in between each proofing so you can look at it with a clear mind each time.

Take lots of breaks and relax. There's no point to stress out over this.

I'm a Notes Editor of a T14 LR/have designed and graded a write-on comp, and I think this is solid advice (although I can't vouch for LS Confidential and generally don't find "exam writing" tips to be that helpful for anything). Proofread a ton (I often read my writing starting with my last sentence and move back up through the piece - obviously I read the sentences forward, I just start with the last one and work back - and change the font when I'm proofing and it works pretty well), and make sure all your points support a central thesis - it usually doesn't matter much which position on the topic you take. I also did my cite checking first as a block when I was fresh so that I didn't have to break up my train of thought/skim through the bluebook while I was trying to actually write. Also get the online bluebook, you can run searches electronically instead of using that godawful index.
Last edited by bruinfan10 on Mon May 06, 2013 12:02 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Danger Zone
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Re: The Write On

Postby Danger Zone » Mon May 06, 2013 12:00 pm

This is all excellent advice so far, thanks everyone. So I'm assuming (since the instructions are very important) that they will tell us what spading entails and what format we will use for the note?

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bruinfan10
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Re: The Write On

Postby bruinfan10 » Mon May 06, 2013 12:04 pm

Danger Zone wrote:This is all excellent advice so far, thanks everyone. So I'm assuming (since the instructions are very important) that they will tell us what spading entails and what format we will use for the note?

Probably. I'd read the example note/submission multiple times (like the post above me recommended) if you're worried about style and formatting.

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Bikeflip
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Re: The Write On

Postby Bikeflip » Mon May 06, 2013 12:13 pm

Danger Zone wrote:This is all excellent advice so far, thanks everyone. So I'm assuming (since the instructions are very important) that they will tell us what spading entails and what format we will use for the note?



Probably. If the instructions don't specify and you think it makes a difference, email whoever you're supposed to email.

Even if the instructions don't specify a format, recall that your grader is probably a rising 3L who doesn't want to spend the summer reading journal write-on submissions. The clearer you can make your formatting, the easier it is for your reader to give you points.

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Re: The Write On

Postby shock259 » Mon May 06, 2013 12:24 pm

Each write on is going to be different. So be ready for some curveballs. I got 900 pages of written material, a two-week deadline, and no examples or formatting directions. That said, I read Volokh before and I think it helped. I didn't have time to read anything other than the write-on section.

I wish I could help more but that was honestly such a blur. I was so burnt out after 1L that I just threw something together on autopilot. Just turning something in was half the battle. Literally half of the people that signed up for the write on never turned anything in because they were so burnt out.

Good luck.

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northwood
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Re: The Write On

Postby northwood » Mon May 06, 2013 12:47 pm

finishing the write on is half the battle to getting on a journal

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A. Nony Mouse
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Re: The Write On

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Mon May 06, 2013 1:16 pm

I agree that finishing is half the battle. And following the instructions. Really, you just need to put in the work - I think the most valuable quality of a potential LR applicant is that they're willing to do the work. If you're willing to slog through the write-on and do it thoroughly, you're more likely to do the LR work thoroughly (and not make your boards' lives harder...).

One of the problems that came up frequently in write-on submissions I read was failing to consider the arguments against the thesis, so make sure to address the other side.

Also, the vast majority of submissions made the same half-hearted/broad argument (we had a closed-universe of materials to be considered). So making a specific, focused argument - ideally something original - is key. However, in the absence of originality, sheer solid competence - mechanical and technical correctness - gets you far. (I'd even say something boring but unimpeachably competent is better than something original and interesting but half-baked, but opinions on this might vary.)

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Re: The Write On

Postby jessuf » Mon May 06, 2013 1:34 pm

My school cares pretty much only about Bluebooking and grammar. You're not going to be writing oodles of original content on journal - you will just be editing citations and grammar. So make sure to cite everything properly, as well as throw in some unique signals like contra (properly). Also use every source at least once. Have string cites with proper order of authorities.

I read my main case twice, then I skimmed the head notes of the other cases and grouped them together. I read all news articles in full, and I only skimmed the abstract or introduction of academic articles and grouped those together. My write-on was first amendment in the classroom, and I had some very bland argument. However, I made sure my writing, grammar, and Bluebooking were flawless, and I got on. Mine was thankfully only 8 pages plus maybe 40 different sources, so it was doable in one day of solid writing and reading.

rad lulz
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Re: The Write On

Postby rad lulz » Mon May 06, 2013 1:43 pm

I had to grade those things. Really hard to stand out.

I basically graded on a "readability after 8-10 hours of work" scale

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Bronte
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Re: The Write On

Postby Bronte » Mon May 06, 2013 2:17 pm

What is spading? Also, I am almost shocked that there are books or book chapters on this subject. Anyway, my advice for the write-on differs a bit from what others have said so far.

I would not read the materials more than once or otherwise obsess over the materials. Like most legal sources, the materials will be 50-90% fluff and susceptible of being distilled into a few simple principles. Further, most of your graders likely won't have read the materials at all or won't have read them very carefully. You're not going to score a ton of points by obsessing over the materials.

Instead, pick a side and make a clean, coherent argument that hits all the obvious points and counterpoints (which could well be boxes in a grading rubric). Use a hierarchical writing style with roadmap paragraphs and a topic sentence that summarizes every paragraph. Use a plain-language writing style with short sentences and short paragraphs.

More important than either of the foregoing, however, is Bluebooking. This will likely make up half the grade, and thus you simply have to get your citations correct. Read Rules 1-9 of the Bluebook straight through, which are fairly short. Then obsess over the citations.

Proofread heavily and get your formatting right. There is no reason that there should be a single typo or grammatical error in this writing sample, as it is very short. I would read it at least 10 times. I would read it backwards. Also, your formatting should match the formatting of notes in the law review (subject to whatever rules are specific to the writing competition).

Finally, follow the instructions. Do not get yourself disqualified for going over the page limit, having incorrect margins, or something to that effect. It happens.

Good luck.

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A. Nony Mouse
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Re: The Write On

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Mon May 06, 2013 3:15 pm

Bronte wrote:What is spading? Also, I am almost shocked that there are books or book chapters on this subject. Anyway, my advice for the write-on differs a bit from what others have said so far.

I would not read the materials more than once or otherwise obsess over the materials. Like most legal sources, the materials will be 50-90% fluff and susceptible of being distilled into a few simple principles. Further, most of your graders likely won't have read the materials at all or won't have read them very carefully. You're not going to score a ton of points by obsessing over the materials.

Instead, pick a side and make a clean, coherent argument that hits all the obvious points and counterpoints (which could well be boxes in a grading rubric). Use a hierarchical writing style with roadmap paragraphs and a topic sentence that summarizes every paragraph. Use a plain-language writing style with short sentences and short paragraphs.

More important than either of the foregoing, however, is Bluebooking. This will likely make up half the grade, and thus you simply have to get your citations correct. Read Rules 1-9 of the Bluebook straight through, which are fairly short. Then obsess over the citations.

Proofread heavily and get your formatting right. There is no reason that there should be a single typo or grammatical error in this writing sample, as it is very short. I would read it at least 10 times. I would read it backwards. Also, your formatting should match the formatting of notes in the law review (subject to whatever rules are specific to the writing competition).

Finally, follow the instructions. Do not get yourself disqualified for going over the page limit, having incorrect margins, or something to that effect. It happens.

Good luck.

I completely agree with this, except for the Bluebooking = half the grade part. The Bluebooking was weighted way less than the essay for my law review. So it will vary by school (you could ask about this, and see what they'll tell you).

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Bronte
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Re: The Write On

Postby Bronte » Mon May 06, 2013 3:23 pm

A. Nony Mouse wrote:I completely agree with this, except for the Bluebooking = half the grade part. The Bluebooking was weighted way less than the essay for my law review. So it will vary by school (you could ask about this, and see what they'll tell you).


Yeah I should have been more equivocal there. It depends on the law review and will probably be a black box. But note that this is an objective part of the write-on. Like a multiple choice section on a law school test, it can end up setting the curve if there isn't much separation in the subjective portion.

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Gamecubesupreme
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Re: The Write On

Postby Gamecubesupreme » Mon May 06, 2013 4:17 pm

Finish your first draft as early as possible.

Edit and revise as many times as you can.

Don't blow-off the Bluebook section.

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Scotusnerd
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Re: The Write On

Postby Scotusnerd » Mon May 06, 2013 7:40 pm

Tagging. I didn't do so great in LRAW, but I'm hoping to improve that with Journal. Sigh.

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Danger Zone
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Re: The Write On

Postby Danger Zone » Mon May 06, 2013 7:42 pm

Scotusnerd wrote:Tagging. I didn't do so great in LRAW, but I'm hoping to improve that with Journal. Sigh.

On a related note, how similar is this to the writing we do in LRW?

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Bronte
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Re: The Write On

Postby Bronte » Mon May 06, 2013 8:03 pm

Danger Zone wrote:
Scotusnerd wrote:Tagging. I didn't do so great in LRAW, but I'm hoping to improve that with Journal. Sigh.

On a related note, how similar is this to the writing we do in LRW?


It is similar with some significant differences. As is true of any nonfiction writing, organization of your ideas into an intuitive, syllogistic hierarchy is paramount. Writing forcefully in plain language and devoting copious attention to detail are also critical.

But law review style is different in a few important ways from practical legal writing. On a substantive level, the content will likely be more theoretical, policy-based, big-picture stuff than what you're doing in your legal writing course. To that end, the sources will also be broader in type, including scholarly articles, news reports, and the like in addition to primary sources of law.

There are also some formal differences. Scholarly work puts citations in footnotes rather than using inline citations. It uses phrases rather than long sentences in headings. There's some other stuff to this effect, but you should be able to figure it out as you go.

MrsPalsgraf
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Re: The Write On

Postby MrsPalsgraf » Mon May 06, 2013 9:55 pm

tag thanks

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Elston Gunn
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Re: The Write On

Postby Elston Gunn » Mon May 06, 2013 10:08 pm

Does anybody else have a write-on where you write an edit letter rather than a note-type thing?

SportsFan
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Re: The Write On

Postby SportsFan » Mon May 06, 2013 10:09 pm

Elston Gunn wrote:Does anybody else have a write-on where you write an edit letter rather than a note-type thing?

Thats part of the write-on at Penn. 2 days of editing (started today, and my god its terrible), then a week to write a note (I think 6 page limit, but maybe its 8) and a personal statement.

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A. Nony Mouse
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Re: The Write On

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Mon May 06, 2013 10:13 pm

Bronte wrote:
Danger Zone wrote:
Scotusnerd wrote:Tagging. I didn't do so great in LRAW, but I'm hoping to improve that with Journal. Sigh.

On a related note, how similar is this to the writing we do in LRW?


It is similar with some significant differences. As is true of any nonfiction writing, organization of your ideas into an intuitive, syllogistic hierarchy is paramount. Writing forcefully in plain language and devoting copious attention to detail are also critical.

But law review style is different in a few important ways from practical legal writing. On a substantive level, the content will likely be more theoretical, policy-based, big-picture stuff than what you're doing in your legal writing course. To that end, the sources will also be broader in type, including scholarly articles, news reports, and the like in addition to primary sources of law.

There are also some formal differences. Scholarly work puts citations in footnotes rather than using inline citations. It uses phrases rather than long sentences in headings. There's some other stuff to this effect, but you should be able to figure it out as you go.

Also, while roadmaps and sections/headings and organization are still all important, you're not really applying CREAC or IRAC or whatever variation your LRW class used. I mean, you're not generally applying a rule to given facts; you're analyzing e.g. whether an opinion got it right (Grutter should be overturned because...), or the strengths/weaknesses of a general area of law (current First Amendment doctrine affords insufficient protections to government employees because...), that kind of thing. The questions you're addressing are different enough, the result isn't going to look much like a memo or a brief.




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