A set of discussion and guidance literature has emerged for learning good practice in writing well in the law. These range from discussion of the elegant combination of clarity, concision, and engaging writing (Osbeck ), to very specific concerns regarding a preference for plain English over jargon and legalese (Stark ) – a concern shared by judges (across seniority and demography) who find plain English more persuasive (Flammer ). Others give specific guidance (see, for examples, Goldstein and Lieberman ; Murumba ; Samuelson ) which make clear that key elements of good legal writing include: Asserting a thesis (up front); developing an argument through use of analysis and synthesis of sources, facts, and legal argument (weighed in a measured way); and writing in a clear, simple, and direct or concrete tone.
Teaching academic writing is recognized as a challenge across higher education (Ganobcsik-Williams ) with a disparity between the more superficial presentational criteria by which students often judge their work, and the level of analytical argumentation that educators seek (Andrews ; Lea and Street ; Lillis and Turner ; Norton ). As a field, Law places huge emphasis on argumentation, but evidence suggests that its effective teaching has proven challenging. For example, a survey of US judges, practitioners and legal writing teachers indicated a universal generally poor view of new law graduates’ writing skills (Kosse and ButleRitchie ). These respondents report writing that lacks: focus; a developed theme; structure; persuasive argument or analysis; synthesis and authority analysis; alongside errors in, citation, grammar, spelling, and punctuation (Kosse and ButleRitchie ). Similar concerns are raised by other expert legal writers (Abner and Kierstad ).
Throughout your academic career, you will often be asked to write essays. You may have to work on an assigned essay for class, enter an essay contest or write essays for college admissions. This article will show you how to write, and then revise, all types of essays. Then, we'll explore how to write narrative, persuasive and expository essays. Read on to learn how to write essays like an expert!