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Friday, October 13, 2006

Research Canons: Legal Research & Writing

Our next subject matters for the research canons project are Legal Research and Legal Writing.  (See here for a discussion of the research canons project.)  Please comment on the books and articles that are essential to a new academic doing work in these areas.

One commenter noted that these should be separate fields.  I have grouped them together based on the usual course designation, but the commenter is surely correct.  In the comments, you may want to address how these two fields interact and how they do not.

Posted by Matt Bodie on October 13, 2006 at 09:21 AM in Research Canons | Permalink


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Other journals to watch: Perspectives: Teaching Legal Research & Writing (in addition to its own articles, note Don Dunn's regular bibliography of new publications in the area).Law Library Journal.Legal Reference Services Quarterly.I just attended a very interesting symposium at Boalt, Legal Information and the Development of American Law: Further Thinking about the Thoughts of Bob Berring. The papers will be published in the spring 2007 issue of Law Library Journal. As the title suggests, Berring has been tremendously influential in the field and many of his works should be considered part of the canon. For many of the great articles and books in the last couple of decades about legal research and legal information, see the bibliography prepared by Dick Danner for the symposium.

Posted by: Mary Whisner | Oct 24, 2006 6:55:30 PM

I'd like to add the Scribes Journal of Legal Writing. Volume 10 - just out - contains a complete ten-year index. For information on Scribes, visit www.scribes.org

Posted by: Otto Stockmeyer | Oct 20, 2006 4:56:24 PM

The following article is a great piece on working with students one-on-one in conferences, drawing from the fields of cognitive psychology, rhetoric and composition theory, and psychotherapy. Our law school uses the article to help train all new LRW teachers and teaching assistants.
The article is: Robin Wellford-Slocum, The Law School Student-Faculty Conference: Towards a Transformative Learning Experience, 45 S. Texas L. Rev. 255 (2004). The article can be viewed on the following link: http://ssrn.com/author=645449.

Posted by: Jayne Kacer | Oct 16, 2006 4:26:07 PM

To the other excellent sources cited here, I'd add--

Richard C. Wydick, Plain English for Lawyers (5th ed. Carolina Academic Press 2005).

I'd also like to emphasize the comprehensive nature of the bibliography appended to the Pollman and Edwards article mentioned above. It contains hundreds of citations, some of which are classified by topic in the article. Terrill Pollman & Linda H. Edwards, Scholarship by Legal Writing Professors: New Voices in the Academy, 11 Leg. Writing (2005).

Posted by: Judy Fischer | Oct 16, 2006 3:02:45 PM

No canon of good writing, legal or not, would be complete without Strunk and White, The Elements of Style.

Posted by: English Major turned lawyer | Oct 16, 2006 2:22:36 PM

James Boyd White, The Legal Imagination: Studies in the Nature of Legal Thought and Expression (1973).

Wayne C. Booth, Modern Dogma and the Rhetoric of Assent (1974).

Steven Mailloux, Rhetorical Power (1989).

Chaim Perleman, The Realm of Rhetoric (1982).

Posted by: Peter | Oct 16, 2006 8:59:43 AM

For my money, the best text on legal writing is John Bronsteen's book, Writing a Legal Memo. It's obviously a practical guide, meant to be read by students, but it nonetheless manages to describe an entire theoretical philosophy of legal writing. The book is currently required reading in the legal writing classes at Yale, Harvard, and Chicago.

Bronsteen's book draws upon Style, by Joseph Williams, which is another leading source in the field.

Posted by: Jonathan | Oct 16, 2006 12:16:44 AM

I'm going to propose some sub-topics, starting with important scholarship on the pedagogy of legal writing. Here are some that have greatly influenced me. Some are already recognized as classics; the others are going to be.

Mary Beth Beazley, The Self-Graded Draft: Teaching Students to Revise Using Guided Self-Critique, 3 Legal Writing 175 (1997).
Mary Beth Beazley, Teaching Students How to "Think Like Lawyers": Integrating Socratic Method with the Writing Process, 64 Temp. L. Rev. 885 (1991).
Linda Berger, Applying New Rhetoric to Legal Discourse: The Ebb and Flow of Reader and Writer, 49 J. Legal Educ. 155 (1999).
Charles Calleros, Using Classroom Demonstrations in Familiar Nonlegal Contexts to Introduce New Students to Unfamiliar Concepts of Legal Method and Analysis, 7 Leg. Writing 37 (2001).
Suzanne Ehrenberg, Embracing the Writing-Centered Legal Process, 89 Iowa L. Rev. 1159 (2004).
Anne Enquist, Critiquing and Evaluating Law Students' Writing: Advice from Thirty-Five Experts, 22 Seattle U. L. Rev. 1119 (1999).
Anne Enquist, Critiquing Law Students' Writing: What the Students Say Is Effective, 2 Legal Writing 145 (1996).
M.H. Sam Jacobson, Learning Styles and Lawyering: Using Learning Theory to Organize Thinking and Writing, 2 J. ALWD 27 (2004).
Joseph Kimble, Plain English: A Charter for Clear Writing, 9 Thomas M. Cooley L. Rev. 1 (1992.
Pamela Lysaght & Cristina D. Lockwood, Writing-across-the-Law-School Curriculum: Theoretical Justifications, Curricular Implications, 2 J. ALWD 73 (2004).
Phillip N. Meyer, Fingers Pointing at the Moon: New Perspectives on Teaching Legal Writing and Analysis, 25 Conn. L. Rev. 893 (1992).
Richard K. Neumann, Jr., A Preliminary Inquiry into the Art of Critique, 40 Hastings L.J. 725 (1989).
Laurel Currie Oates, Beyond Communication: Writing as a Means of Learning, 6 Legal Writing 1 (2000).
Carol McCrehan Parker, Writing throughout the Curriculum: Why Law Schools Need It and How to Achieve It, 76 Neb. L. Rev. 561 (1997).
Jill Ramsfield & Christopher Rideout, Legal Writing: A Revised View, 69 Wash. L. Rev. 35 (1994).
Ruth Anne Robbins, Fiction 101: A Primer for Lawyers on How to Use Fiction Writing Techniques to Write Persuasive Facts Sections, 32 Rutgers L.J. 459 (2001).
Joseph M. Williams, On the Maturing of Legal Writers: Two Models of Growth and Development, 1 Leg. Writing 1 (1991).

Posted by: Coleen Barger | Oct 15, 2006 11:27:30 AM

A nearly 200-page online bibliography accompanies the 2006 ABA Sourcebook on Legal Writing Programs. It's current, extensive, and well indexed. See http://www.abanet.org/legaled/publications/pubs.html. Someone starting out in the field should also check the following journals: the Journal of the Legal Writing Institute, the Journal of the Association of Legal Writing Directors, and Scribes.

Posted by: Linda Berger | Oct 14, 2006 11:43:54 AM


The literature on legal writing is extensive. I would start with Terrill Pollman & Linda H. Edwards, Scholarship by Legal Writing Professors: New Voices in the Academy, 11 Leg. Writing 3(2005). It discusses legal writing scholarship and contains an extensive bibliography of scholarship by legal writing professors.

Posted by: Scott Fruehwald | Oct 14, 2006 11:31:15 AM

I'll bite, though there's really not a lot out there to shape a research agenda. Still, Volokh's book on academic legal writing is very good, and Bryan Garner also does a great job. I think that Christine Hurt, et al's interactive citation workshop makes for good pedagogy, but what to make of it for scholarship isn't clear - it's designed to be an teaching aid for students, and it is an invaluable one. There's plenty of people who try to unpack narrative moves in legal argument and describe what they really mean, but they tend to the be the sort of critical legal theorists who you might like, if you like that sort of thing. And many in the academy don't like that sort of thing.

Posted by: David Zaring | Oct 14, 2006 1:05:30 AM

I would think one indispensable work here would be Peter M. Tiersma's Legal Language (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1999). His training in both law and linguistics shines throughout this quite helpful volume. Tiersma has admirably performed his part in 'motivat[ing] the profession to communicate as clearly, concisely, and comprehensibly as possible.'

Posted by: Patrick S. O'Donnell | Oct 13, 2006 11:39:04 AM

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