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Some years ago I prepared this little essay for the guidance of my students. When the essay began to circulate elsewhere, West Publishing volunteered to publish it in these pages with the thought that it might be of help to a wider audience.
I hope it is. Law examinations share a good deal in common with other stock forms of legal writing, such as the brief, the law office memorandum, and the judicial opinion.
Developing proper skills of exam writing will have, therefore, permanent returns. Ideally, a good law examination tests how well a student has mastered the course material, and the ability to apply this knowledge to new situations.
There are, however, some recurrent mistakes, oversights and unwise practices that prevent students from doing as well as they might. If you are alert to avoiding these pitfalls, Law essay skills will improve your examination results.
The most costly mistake an examinee can make is to fail to organize an answer well. An answer which flails at the examination question without a plan will overlook issues and connections between issues. There is no universal scheme of organization.
Depending upon the layout of the question, it may be convenient to organize by parties or by legal issues. When the facts set out a substantial number of transactions or events extending over time, it may be best to organize by dates, beginning with the earliest facts and working forward, explaining what issues and arguments change as the plot thickens.
Especially in property and tax courses, it is sometimes quite sensible to key your answer to the treatment of particular assets or groups of assets. Regardless of the mode of organization, organize. You are not wasting time when you sit in an examination room thinking about how best to approach and argue the issues.
Careful organization can also spare you the serious error of inconsistency in your treatment issues. I doubt that a mental checklist is enough - I think you need to jot down a little outline to which to refer as you write your answer. Of course, virtue can be carried to excess: One mode of organization that is usually unwise is to segregate the pros and cons of a great number of issues "Plaintiff makes the following eight arguments Defendant offers the following nine responses I recommend that you try to address liability-creating factors before you discuss defensive ones.
Defensive considerations are difficult to evaluate in the abstracts. You get the cart before the horse when you raise the defensive position in advance of the notional theory of liability that would bring it into play.
Before you can organize, you must know what you are organizing.
It is the worst sort of false economy to hurry through the facts in order to start writing bilge. Examination questions are dense: You should read a question through to get its general drift, then reread it with care.
You must question the question. It is easy to confuse parties and places on an examination because you have not had long familiarity with the facts. Only your own commitment to avoid carelessness can save you from doing it.
Here too excess is possible. Some answers display a preposterous suspicion of the facts, e. Corpse is dead, but insists on reciting that "Mr. Corpse appears to be dead," or "If Mr. Corpse is in truth dead Pay attention to the role the examiner has assigned you.
If you are told to be an advocate, you will necessarily approach a question differently than if you are put in the shoes of an impartial judge or legislative draftsman. Be alert to the common tendency of examiners to change role assignments when they change questions. Be sensitive to the significance of your role when looking at the state of the facts in the examination question: I have been staggered by the amount of abject carelessness that is exhibited by examinees.
Some students disregard plain instructions to begin a new question in a new bluebook. Some omit their examination numbers. Others misallocate their time although told in advance and again on the examination itself what the relative weight of the questions will be.Some tips on how to improve your essay writing skills when it comes to the study of law.
Transcript of How to Write Better Law Essays. How to Write Better Law Essays Dr Steven Vaughan Faculty of Laws, UCL October The Question “The company’s constitution forms a contract between a company and its members. The contract is, however.
Law examinations share a good deal in common with other stock forms of legal writing, such as the brief, the law office memorandum, and the judicial opinion. Developing proper skills of exam writing will have, therefore, permanent returns.
Most students do not have proper skills and experience to write specific essays like a law school essay, so that's where paper writing help comes in very handy.
What makes a good essay? One of the biggest difficulties of law essay writing is the principles of the legislative system itself. Part 2 · Writing legal essays: Specific legal skills It is sometimes difficult to distinguish between an offer and an invitation to treat and the courts have had a lot of trouble doing it.
As a colleague once said, writing a law essay is not like writing a detective novel. No one wants to wait until the last line for the big reveal, to find out “whodunit”. Instead, you need to be telling your reader, in your introduction, exactly what your conclusion is going to be.
In addition, if you wish to produce UK law essays that would stand out, your writing needs to convey your expertise and authoritative legal skills. In this case, you cannot make any major mistakes whether of syntactical of grammatical variety.