Bad Legal Writing Professor

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corifornication
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Bad Legal Writing Professor

Postby corifornication » Fri Feb 06, 2015 3:33 pm

So without going into too much detail, my (1L) section got saddled with an awful LRW adjunct. He's been here for maybe 3-4 years now and is currently on academic probation for a number of reasons, chief among them being he has no idea what he's doing and no experience in the field (he graduated from my law school maybe seven or so years ago, worked briefly at a local firm, and promptly returned). So far I've just been going over notes with friends who are in other LRW sections, but I'm worried that this puts me at a distinct disadvantage, especially since I feel like I can't rely on his input for my cover letters and formatting. There are rumors that he's already been sacked which may explain why his classes seem like such a colossal waste of time--most of our class is spent going through legal memes he found online that are tangentially related to whatever we're supposed to be doing--which is great for the upcoming class, but really, really frustrating for us.

I guess I was just wondering if anyone had any suggestions as to what they would do if they were in my shoes? Are there any good books I could work through on my own, or sources online that can help me fill in the blanks left by my professor?

hiima3L
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Re: Bad Legal Writing Professor

Postby hiima3L » Fri Feb 06, 2015 8:36 pm

There are TONS of resources on legal writing online. I suggest everything and anything by Bryan Garner.

Unfortunately, I think it is critical to have someone to go over your work and explain things one-on-one. That is the only way to really learn how to write.

The least you can do is report the prof to admin. It's bullshit and a huge waste of your money to get saddled with a worthless prof. I know how it goes.

03152016
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Re: Bad Legal Writing Professor

Postby 03152016 » Fri Feb 06, 2015 8:57 pm

that's crazy man
lrw is like the one class where you learn some practical skills
it's so bizarre to me they'd choose someone that unqualified to teach it

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haus
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Re: Bad Legal Writing Professor

Postby haus » Fri Feb 06, 2015 9:03 pm

Brut wrote:it's so bizarre to me they'd choose someone that unqualified to teach it

Sadly, it appears that LRW classes often get the short straw when it comes to priority for staffing. I suspect that of the 1L subjects LRW probably has the lowest number of tenure track positions nationwide.

bnghle234
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Re: Bad Legal Writing Professor

Postby bnghle234 » Sat Feb 07, 2015 2:05 am

i was in the same boat last year. do you have TAs? It sounds crazy, but my 2L TAs ended up being the most helpful. Also, you're just trying to get the best grade possible. Try and hone in on what your prof. likes. For me, I got a low score on my first memo. Asked my prof. what I did wrong and he couldn't give me an answer. I went to my TAs and they said they noticed that the papers with the best grade were short and to the point. So, my last paper I kept it clean, focused on brevity. Got an A on that paper, B+ in the class. Not the best outcome, but it was what I was working with.

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A. Nony Mouse
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Re: Bad Legal Writing Professor

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Sat Feb 07, 2015 10:20 am

haus wrote:
Brut wrote:it's so bizarre to me they'd choose someone that unqualified to teach it

Sadly, it appears that LRW classes often get the short straw when it comes to priority for staffing. I suspect that of the 1L subjects LRW probably has the lowest number of tenure track positions nationwide.

At a lot of top schools, the people teaching LRW are using it as a staging ground for academia generally, so their focus is more on getting publications out and less on teaching. Even where that's not the case, LRW profs are generally on contract, not tenure-track (because they "only" teach and don't generally have research requirements, and tenure is all about protecting that academic freedom), so they can turn into second-class citizens.

corifornication
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Re: Bad Legal Writing Professor

Postby corifornication » Tue Feb 10, 2015 4:35 pm

hiima3L wrote:There are TONS of resources on legal writing online. I suggest everything and anything by Bryan Garner.

Unfortunately, I think it is critical to have someone to go over your work and explain things one-on-one. That is the only way to really learn how to write.

The least you can do is report the prof to admin. It's bullshit and a huge waste of your money to get saddled with a worthless prof. I know how it goes.


Great, thanks! And yeah, a few of us went to talk to one of the deans about it, that's how we learned he was on academic probation.

haus wrote:
Brut wrote:it's so bizarre to me they'd choose someone that unqualified to teach it

Sadly, it appears that LRW classes often get the short straw when it comes to priority for staffing. I suspect that of the 1L subjects LRW probably has the lowest number of tenure track positions nationwide.


Honestly, yeah, that's pretty much it exactly. It's terrible because I know that some of the other LRW professors are wonderful and very well-regarded, which just makes this whole situation more frustrating for everybody, I think.

One in particular is kind of famous for giving his students the hookup with state judges and internship positions. He practiced for 30-something years in California's office of the Attorney General, so he manages to find just about all of the students in his section positions or recommendations SOMEwhere. So it just feels like we got double-fucked to have a professor who's so tragically unqualified and one that already puts us at a disadvantage with the rest of our peers in terms of job opportunities.

Anyway, thanks, all of you! If you have any more suggestions for books or lecture videos, please let me know. The only books he assigned for our class include one written by another professor at our university and the bluebook, neither of which we've used this or last semester.

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jbagelboy
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Re: Bad Legal Writing Professor

Postby jbagelboy » Wed Feb 11, 2015 2:32 am

My legal writing class sucked. I "learned" legal writing from my 2L moot court coach and during my 1L summer

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jbagelboy
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Re: Bad Legal Writing Professor

Postby jbagelboy » Wed Feb 11, 2015 2:37 am

Also a strong writer remains a strong writer in a number of contexts, and a shitty writer is unlikely to transform into a brilliant one under the guise of legalese. Mastery of the english language and persuasive, analytical appeal develops over years, not a semester of LW/LPW.

Legal writing 'professors' and the publication industry of legal writing guides feeds off this amateur notion that writing in american law takes some sort of unique arcane formula only they can teach you. Anyone who isn't trying to make a dollar off you will tell you the skills carry over, you're just using more headers and a bluebook. Of course practicing brief and memo writing is important but I'm not attached to the idea of a legal writing curriculum as particularly necessary for that.

corifornication
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Re: Bad Legal Writing Professor

Postby corifornication » Wed Feb 11, 2015 5:12 pm

jbagelboy wrote:Also a strong writer remains a strong writer in a number of contexts, and a shitty writer is unlikely to transform into a brilliant one under the guise of legalese. Mastery of the english language and persuasive, analytical appeal develops over years, not a semester of LW/LPW.

Legal writing 'professors' and the publication industry of legal writing guides feeds off this amateur notion that writing in american law takes some sort of unique arcane formula only they can teach you. Anyone who isn't trying to make a dollar off you will tell you the skills carry over, you're just using more headers and a bluebook. Of course practicing brief and memo writing is important but I'm not attached to the idea of a legal writing curriculum as particularly necessary for that.


Point well taken. I was an English/ Philosophy major, so learning how to write clearly and concisely isn't really my concern right now. It's more that I feel unfamiliar with understanding and writing my own memos, pleadings, motions, etc., but as you said, practicing briefs and memos would probably be the most helpful to that effect.

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A. Nony Mouse
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Re: Bad Legal Writing Professor

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Wed Feb 11, 2015 5:15 pm

Eh, I think actually being trained in the expectations of a specific profession is reasonable. Many schools may offer crappy LRW courses, but that doesn't make the concept of learning to write in law school wrong. Of course it's not going to transform someone who had poor writing skills into Scalia, but that doesn't mean they can't still improve. And it's not like you get a lot of personalized feedback in practice.

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rpupkin
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Re: Bad Legal Writing Professor

Postby rpupkin » Wed Feb 11, 2015 5:22 pm

A. Nony Mouse wrote:Eh, I think actually being trained in the expectations of a specific profession is reasonable. Many schools may offer crappy LRW courses, but that doesn't make the concept of learning to write in law school wrong. Of course it's not going to transform someone who had poor writing skills into Scalia, but that doesn't mean they can't still improve. And it's not like you get a lot of personalized feedback in practice.

Completely agree. And even if your LRW instructor is poor, reading the LRW guidebooks and doing the exercises/assignments is worthwhile.

bnghle234
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Re: Bad Legal Writing Professor

Postby bnghle234 » Wed Feb 11, 2015 8:42 pm

jbagelboy wrote:My legal writing class sucked. I "learned" legal writing from my 2L moot court coach and during my 1L summer


same here!

bnghle234
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Re: Bad Legal Writing Professor

Postby bnghle234 » Wed Feb 11, 2015 8:48 pm

jbagelboy wrote:Also a strong writer remains a strong writer in a number of contexts, and a shitty writer is unlikely to transform into a brilliant one under the guise of legalese. Mastery of the english language and persuasive, analytical appeal develops over years, not a semester of LW/LPW.

Legal writing 'professors' and the publication industry of legal writing guides feeds off this amateur notion that writing in american law takes some sort of unique arcane formula only they can teach you. Anyone who isn't trying to make a dollar off you will tell you the skills carry over, you're just using more headers and a bluebook. Of course practicing brief and memo writing is important but I'm not attached to the idea of a legal writing curriculum as particularly necessary for that.


have to disagree here. i think some of the best legal writers don't have a strong writing background, but treat legal writing as formulaic. my LWR teacher used to say that legal writing is an art and a science, and after a certain point, you cannot explain the art. Worst advice ever! My Moot Court professor taught us the formula to legal writing and I've yet to see an aspect of legal writing that can't be explained due to it's so called "art". there's a great book out there called point made where the author dissects a bunch of briefs by the best. it's worth looking into if for no other reason than to show that all good writing can be explained.




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