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Late University of Chicago Professor Emeritus Joseph Williams was arguably one of the best writing instructors of our time.  I met him years ago when he was teaching a judicial writing course at the National Judicial College. The genius of his approach was to improve clarity in legal and business writing, by asking writiers to first sketch a "story" of their work, including the list of "characters" (nouns) and actions (verbs).  By focusing on storytelling, you as a writer are forced to be more concise in explaining information to your reader--in a more active context.  Using the "character-action" approach to writing simplifies your lanaguge, places responsbility cleary for following regulatoins, and reduces your use of the passive voice. Consider these two examples: (Statutory Instrument 1991 No 2680, The Public Works Contracts Regulations 1991, Part 1, 2.4, page 4)   'General saving for old... read more

The first weeks of law school are thrilling and with torts, contracts, and property opening new worlds for students, the one class that seems not to fit is legal research and writing.  In this post I will outline the three keys to success in this course and explain why this may be your most important class of law school. Show your work!  This old saying from math class applies in law school as well and especially in legal writing.  The big secret to law school is not that you learn the law (you may - but it's incidental!)  The purpose of law school is to develop legal thinkers.  So success in legal writing involves working through the options in solving a legal issue.  Selecting the correct one is important, but showing the analysis it took to get there is essential. Play well with others.  Every legal writing course has limits on collaboration, but within those limits working with other students will help in this class and the subject... read more

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