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Helpful Books from the Law Library
The following treatises are just a few of the many available treatises that can assist with drafting a seminar paper or understanding the scholarly legal writing process.
Academic Legal Writing by Eugene Volokh
Call Number: KF250 .V65 2016 (Reserves)
Publication Date: 2016-02-19
Designed to help law students write and publish articles, this text provides detailed instructions for every aspect of the law school writing, research, and publication process. Topics covered include law review articles and student notes, seminar term papers, how to shift from research to writing, cite-checking others' work, publishing, and publicizing written works. With supporting documents available on http://volokh.com/writing, the book helps law students and everyone else involved in academic legal writing: professors save time and effort communicating basic points to students; law schools satisfy the American Bar Association's second- and third-year writing requirements; and law reviews receive better notes from their staff. The Fifth Edition, based on the author's experience teaching his newly designed Intensive Editing Workshop and First Amendment Amicus Brief Clinic, adds material on editing, rebutting counterarguments, writing strategy, identifying and using the key assets of the article, fighting "the curse of knowledge," and submitting articles to law reviews. It also adds extra examples of sound writing, as well as editing exercises.
Effective Lawyering by Austen L. Parrish; Dennis T. Yokoyama
Call Number: KF250 .P37 2012
Publication Date: 2012-01-01
This brief, practical handbook of legal writing and oral argument is for law students and practitioners who have already learned the basics of legal writing. The handbook offers concise descriptions of writing techniques, ways to avoid common problems, approaches for writing common legal documents, and methods for preparing an oral argument. After a chapter on effective legal writing in general, coverage encompasses trial court briefs, appellate briefs, effective oral argument, the interoffice memorandum, letter and e-mail writing, and academic writing. Each chapter concludes with checklists of essential steps for writing projects and oral arguments. The book's easy-to-read layout includes frequent headings, bullet points, and boxed quotes. Appendices offer sample briefs, memos, and letters. Parrish and Yokoyama teach law at Southwestern Law School Annotation ©2012 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
Scholarly Writing by Jessica L. Clark; Kristen E. Murray
Call Number: KF250 .C528 2012
Publication Date: 2012-08-20
Most law schools require upper-level students to write a sophisticated legal research paper on a topic of their choice. Scholarly Writing guides students through a five-step process of constructing their legal research papers, from topic selection to finishing the final product. Maintaining its example-based approach, the new edition includes additional sample excerpts to illustrate concepts throughout the text, and there is a second annotated full-length paper. Up-to-date information about legal research and organizational tools is included as are ¿bright ideas¿ for student writers, and even more cross-referencing. The text may be used as either a required text for a course in Scholarly Legal Writing or a companion guide for students working on legal writing projects independently.
Scholarly Writing for Law Students by Elizabeth Fajans; Mary Falk
Call Number: KF250 .F35 2017 (Reserves)
Publication Date: 2017-03-24
This book fills an important niche in legal-writing literature by teaching law students how to write scholarly papers for seminars, law reviews, and law-review competitions and how to have their work recognized. It helps novices and more experienced scholars alike to write papers with a minimum of anxiety and a maximum of creativity. Employing a process theory of writing, the text first describes the enterprise of scholarly writing and then discusses techniques for brainstorming topics and theses, researching, drafting, and revising for substance and style. It covers both traditional doctrinal topics and newer areas like empirical studies. There are also chapters on footnotes, avoiding plagiarism, law review practice, and dissemination of student work through publication and submission to national writing competitions. Appendices provide a sample law-review competition paper, answers to in-text exercises, sample syllabi for scholarly writing courses, and a rubric for evaluating and editing scholarly papers and articles.
Getting Ready to Write
- Understand your objective. Know what type of paper you want to write and how it falls in line with the goals of the class.
- Make sure you are interested in your topic. You will be spending a lot of time with your seminar paper topic, so having a genuine interest in it can make the process more satisfying and less frustrating.
- Plan ahead. Thorough scholarly research cannot be done in one day or even a weekend. One resource that may assist you with developing a writing timeline is an Assignment Calculator.
- Keep track of your research. Know what resources you have looked in, what search terms you have used, and when you used these resources. This will make completing and updating your research easier. Tools like Zotero can help you with this.
Help Crafting Your Seminar Paper
Using Working Papers to Select a Topic
Looking at working papers from other scholars can assist you by allowing you to see what types of topics are being actively discussed in legal academia. Two resources for reviewing working papers are detailed below
Bepress Legal Repository
The bepress Legal Repository offers working papers and pre-prints from scholars and professionals at top law schools around the world.
Social Science Research Network (SSRN)
The Social Science Research Network is devoted to the rapid worldwide dissemination of social science research and is composed of a number of specialized research networks in each of the social sciences.
Using Legal News and Blogs to Select a Topic
Various legal news resources and blogs (or blawgs) can assist with selecting a seminar paper topic. The resources below are just of few of the many resources available on the Internet and through subscription services authors can use to locate current events and novel legal issues.