Legal research and writing may not be everyone’s favorite aspect of law school, but no one can deny its importance. No matter where you end up after graduation, clear and concise writing will make you a more productive and efficient advocate. As a 1L, I loved my writing class. The simple, repetitive IRAC structure that bored so many to tears was, for me, one of the only things in law school that made any sense. For this reason, I chose to continue my writing education in BU’s Judicial Writing Seminar, a two-credit course regularly offered in the spring semester.
First off, the seminar makes it easier to read opinions. In the first year of law school, students don’t have much of an introduction to how judges write. Many judges recognize this, and strive to produce more understandable opinions for the benefit of the less-experienced reader. Others, however, don’t. In class, we dissect the components of a legal opinion piece-by-piece to learn the best methods for conveying complex information. For one of our assignments, we took what was perhaps the worst opinion ever written and rewrote it in its entirety. This has made for much quicker reading of opinions and enhanced retention of important legal concepts. In a sea of uncertain doctrine and big meaningless words, the Judicial Writing Seminar provides stress-reducing structure and clarity.
While the 1L writing seminar is intense and comprehensive, there is always more you can do to improve your legal writing. To this end, the seminar involves two major assignments: a majority and a dissenting opinion. These and other weekly writing assignments provide an excellent opportunity to incorporate the techniques learned in the 1L seminar into a different type of legal writing. The seminar develops flexibility in your writing allowing you to tackle issues not only from a lawyer’s perspective, but from a judge’s who must make a decision only after considering all the relevant sides of the case.
Finally, if you aspire to be a judicial clerk or to do a little judging yourself, the seminar is a great way to work toward that goal. While grades are important to judges in assessing clerkship applications, nothing is more important than good legal writing. The Judicial Writing Seminar is another one those small, but great courses that BU offers to its students. If you are looking to continue developing your legal writing skills, I highly recommend it!