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    04.25.11 Legal Writing Professors Publish Books Essential to Their Field
    Elizabeth Fajans and Mary Falk

    Dedicated to the profession of legal writing, Professors Elizabeth Fajans and Mary Falk have been writing and teaching both separately and in collaboration for over 25 years. Like most of their work, the fourth edition of Scholarly Writing for Law Students seeks to contribute to and advance the field of legal writing. Scholarly Writing grew out of the first advanced legal writing course at BLS, co-taught by Fajans and Falk in 1993.

    That class was an ambitious survey course for which students wrote 20-page case comments. The realization that many students had trouble finding theses for their papers because they did not know how to read critically and creatively prompted Fajans and Falk’s first article, “The Tyranny of Paraphrase: Talking Back to Texts,” published in 1993 in the Cornell Law Review. A secondary, but equally important, goal of that article was to encourage legal writing professors to think more deeply about their discipline by using composition theory and rhetorical studies to ground their own scholarship and teaching.

    Around the time that Falk and Fajans were writing Tyranny, the Brooklyn Law Review asked Professor Fajans to provide some material about the nature and structure of case comments for the Law Review Writing Competition Packet. She soon realized that very little had been written on this subject. This prompted Falk and Fajans to write Scholarly Writing to fill a void in materials for students seeking to write academic legal papers. The book teaches students how to find topics and generate theses, how to translate information from notes, cases, and articles into outlines and finished drafts. But the emphasis of the fourth edition, like the first, is on reading. Fajans and Falk aimed to help students learn to identify problems in the law that need to be addressed and brainstorm to identify creative and realistic solutions. As colleague Anne Enquist, Professor at Seattle University School of Law said at a recent AALS Legal Writing, Reasoning, and Research Section lunch, “Scholarly Writing for Law Students was the first in the field, and it is the acknowledged gold standard for law review writing.”

    Fajans and Falk subsequently wrote a second textbook, Writing for Law Practice, the result of years of teaching advanced legal writing courses and developing ideas about which kinds of drafting skills were relevant to particular legal documents. As Falk said about the recent second edition, “this textbook is one of the few teaching law students how to construct a broad array of practice documents while also helping them to develop advanced reasoning and writing skills.” Fajans added that Writing for Law Practice “also demonstrates the interdisciplinary nature of much legal writing, such as the importance of storytelling techniques and document design.”

    Several other jointly authored articles also grew out of their teaching, including, “Shooting from the Lip” (on the ethics of legal rhetoric) published in the Hawaii Law Review and “Untold Stories: Restoring Narrative to Pleading Practice,” published in the Journal of Legal Writing in 2009.

    Read more about the Law School’s Legal Writing Program.

Read the latest issue of BLS LawNotes