July 01, 2021

Admissions Question: July 1

Q: I’m curious to know what type of writing and how much writing I’ll be doing in law school.

Q: I’m curious to know what type of writing and how much writing I’ll be doing in law school.

A: The quantity of writing in law school is going to vary at times. In the first year, the most important writing required will be for your exams. With the exception of Lawyering, our first-year legal writing class, most or all of your first year courses are going to have essay exams at the end of the semester. Your grade on the exam will make up most, if not all, of your grade for the entire class. Other than exams in these classes, the writing you’ll be doing your first year will mainly be taking notes and outlining cases.

As for the Lawyering course, you will be doing writing exercises over the course of the first year. This is really where you learn the “type” of writing you’ll need (i.e. how to write like a lawyer). Some people call this “persuasive” writing. Looking at legal briefs or legal research will help give you examples of what I mean.

In the second & third years, you’ll have some courses that will require papers in addition to, or in lieu of, a final exam. Most of these papers will include research you’ll need to do on legal issues or cases. You’ll learn how to do research through the Lawyering class, but the library staff is also very helpful to students who ask for their assistance.

Graduation requirements vary, but at Lewis & Clark Law School, all students must write two large research papers before graduating. The papers can be ones you wrote for a class requirement, or they can be done for one of the law reviews/journals, or you can do them on your own time outside of class.

If you’d like to hone your writing skills, a couple of books that I think are great for learning how to write well are Eats Shoots & Leaves, by Lynne Truss, and The Little Book on Legal Writing by Alan Dworsky, which is a book used by a lot of our own Lawyering professors and sold in our bookstore. Here’s a link too to 100+ books on the law that you might find just interesting to read.