Why? Because being able to write a good paper, memo, or argument will help you not only throughout law school but also throughout your legal career. Many attorneys report that the law school class that helped them the most when they began practicing law was their legal writing or research class.
Because legal writing and research are such valuable and necessary skills for practicing attorneys, the vast majority of law schools require students to take some kind of legal writing or legal research class their first year of law school. Thus, it is a good idea to consider getting a head start on it over the summer.
Some pre law students get really nervous about legal writing. They “hate” the idea of legal writing. They worry that they will not be able to successfully use the “legal jargon” that they will be expected to use in law school. Legal citations seem unnecessarily complicated and difficult for them. And the idea of legal research seems even more intimidating. If you fall into this category of students who are especially nervous about the legal writing or research aspect of law school, it may be a good idea to get a head start on it before you begin your first year. Doing so will help ease your anxiety and it will help you start law school off on the right foot. You will be able to take your time with the material and learn at your own pace rather than having to keep up with the fast and sometimes unforgiving pace of law school.
Other pre law students love writing. They are excited to dive into the task of writing in a new “language” and do not feel the least bit anxious about their legal writing/research class. If you fall into this category, you may also want to get a head start on legal writing. Why? It may make for a pleasurable summer activity that will also help you get a step ahead in law school. You will be able to take your time and explore the aspects of legal writing that you truly enjoy.
If getting a head start on your legal writing class is a law school prep tip that appeals to you, we recommend that you consider consulting the following resources:
- Legal Writing Examples and Explanations Book. This book helps students analyze the effectiveness of their writing as well as improve their style. It might be worth it to purchase this book and begin perusing it prior to law school.
- The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation. You will probably be required to purchase this book during your first year of law school or at some point down the line. It sets the standard for citing legal cases, statutes, articles and other resources.
- A Guide to Understanding and Mastering the Bluebook. You will find that citing legal sources is not the easiest task in the world – even with the bluebook in hand! A guide is certainly helpful. Some first year law students are also expected to complete workbook exercises as well. If you are expected to develop a familiarity with the bluebook your first year of law school, these resources will certainly help you.
- Basic Legal Research. This is a popular book for those who are nervous about researching in law school. Since a lot of research is online (and requires you to use Lexis or Westlaw) this book may not be as helpful to you if you do not have access to those legal databases.
- Legal Writing in Plain English. This book is a fantastic guide for both law students and attorneys who are looking to improve their legal writing. It discusses how to write in plain English and make your point clearly and concisely. It is also equipped with exercises.
If you already have your Legal Writing syllabus, the best idea may be to simply buy the books on your course syllabus ahead of time and get a head start on reading those books.
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