Dispelling Myths about Legal Research and Writing

Some years back Professor Mark Cooney of Thomas M. Cooley Law School had an interesting, concise piece “Get Real About Research and Writing,” 32 (No. 9) Student Lawyer 18-24 (May 2004) on the importance of legal research and writing (LRW) that importantly dispels the following 10 myths about LRW:

Myth 1:  You can choose a practice area where you won’t need strong research and writing skills.

Myth 2:  In legal writing classes, students learn only how to write.

Myth 3:  New lawyers impress their bosses the most with oral advocacy skills.

Myth 4:  Research and writing doesn’t win cases–oral advocacy does.

Myth 5:  Your primary reader will always be a judge with a good working knowledge of the area of law you’re writing about.

Myth 6:  Using simple words is not lawyerly and means you’re dumbing it down.

Myth 7:  It’s the reader’s fault if he or she misunderstands what you wrote.

Myth 8:  Grammar, style, organization, and other details don’t matter because they’ll go unnoticed.

Myth 9:  All the research tools and resources readily available in law school will be readily available in practice.

Myth 10:  You won’t need to research the controlling cases and statutory law.

For further description of and information on  LRW,  see Stanford Law School’s Legal Research and Writing Program webpage and resources.

Add an “E” to IRAC

Prof. and Director of Global Legal Studies Mark E. Wojcik at John Marshall Law School in Chicago has posted (for a while — as it also appears in the ABA’s Student Lawyer Vol. 35, No. 3, November 2006, pp. 26-29 ) an interesting piece on the Social Science Research Network (SSRN) reformulating the traditional IRAC (Issue-Rule-Application-Conclusion) formula of legal writing: “Add an E to Your IRAC.”

The abstract reads:

This article is intended for law students and legal writing professors. The article shows how writers can improve your writing by explaining a rule of law. You can explain the rule by defining a term or phrase from it, by showing examples of how the rule works (or doesn’t work), or by explaining the public policy behind the rule.

Hat tip to Law Librarian Blog today.