Question from Jury, How Do Lawyers Develop Writing and Research Skills?
Answer from AI:
Lawyers are often recognized for their distinctive writing and research skills, which are essential in the practice of law. These skills are honed over years, beginning in law school and continuing throughout a lawyer’s career. Legal writing and research are fundamental to the profession, as they enable lawyers to analyze legal issues, advocate for clients, and contribute to the development of the law.
Legal Writing in Law School
Law students start developing their writing skills from the outset of their legal education. Legal writing courses are a staple of law school curricula, teaching students how to write clearly, persuasively, and analytically. These courses often cover:
- Structure: Organizing legal arguments in a coherent and logical manner.
- Clarity: Writing in a way that is easily understandable, avoiding unnecessary legal jargon.
- Precision: Choosing words carefully to convey exact meanings.
- Analysis: Applying legal principles to the facts of a case to craft a compelling argument.
- Citation: Using proper legal citation to reference statutes, case law, and other legal authorities.
Legal Research Skills
Alongside writing, law students are taught how to conduct thorough legal research. This involves:
- Identifying relevant legal sources, such as statutes, regulations, and case law.
- Using legal databases like Westlaw or LexisNexis to find and analyze legal materials.
- Evaluating the weight and relevance of different legal authorities.
- Staying current with legal developments and understanding how they may impact a given legal issue.
Legal Writing Styles
Legal writing encompasses a variety of styles, each with its own conventions:
- Predictive Writing: Used to forecast the outcome of legal questions, often seen in memos.
- Persuasive Writing: Aimed at convincing a judge or jury, as seen in briefs and motions.
- Transactional Writing: Drafting contracts and other documents that facilitate legal transactions.
Methods in Essay Writing
In law school, essay writing is a method through which students learn to make arguments and analyze complex legal issues. Essays require students to:
- Develop a thesis or central argument.
- Support their argument with evidence from legal texts and precedents.
- Anticipate counterarguments and address potential weaknesses in their position.
- Conclude with a strong restatement of their main points.
Continued Skill Development
After law school, lawyers continue to refine their writing and research skills through practice. They must adapt to the specific demands of their legal specialty and the preferences of their clients, courts, or other legal forums. Continuing legal education (CLE) courses and on-the-job training are common ways lawyers maintain and enhance these skills.
While law schools provide the foundation for legal writing and research, it is important to note that these skills can always be improved. Lawyers often work with colleagues to peer-review documents and may consult style guides such as the Bluebook for citation or Bryan Garner’s books on legal writing for stylistic advice.
For individuals seeking to understand more about legal writing and research, consulting with a legal professional or accessing self-help resources can be beneficial. It is always recommended to seek personalized advice from a legal professional for specific legal matters.