Lawyers write. It’s what we do.
Read. Think. Listen. Analyze. Write. Share. The legal writing classroom at Brooklyn Law School offers an environment in which first-year law students can experiment with and craft their professional identities as lawyers and advocates from Day One, while learning how to read, analyze, write about, and discuss the law in their authentic voices. The first-year, two-semester, legal writing course is taught in small sections of approximately 20 students, allowing students to forge strong mentor-mentee relationships with their professors, all of whom bring substantial real-world legal experience to the classroom and highly value the art and science of legal writing.
In the Fall semester, we focus on objective legal analysis, analyzing a client’s factual circumstances, carefully reading statutes and case law to extract a legal rule, applying the elements or factors of the legal rule to the client’s facts, weighing the strengths and weaknesses of the client’s position, and then predicting likely legal outcomes. Students learn how to write a logical objective legal analysis in the form of a document routinely used by lawyers in day-to-day practice: the legal memorandum, for which the intended audience is a supervising attorney, and potentially the client. Additionally, students step into the world of legal research, gaining competence in how to efficiently (and cost-effectively) find applicable statutes, regulations, case law, and treatises on the relevant legal issues.
In the Spring semester, the legal writing classroom transitions to the study of legal persuasion. Students continue to research and closely read statutes, regulations, and case law, and analyze a client’s legal dilemma, now with the goal of persuading an audience—opposing counsel or a judge—to resolve a legal conflict. We experiment with persuasive techniques and styles in both legal writing and oral advocacy, discussing case themes and theories and how to balance logos, pathos, and ethos (logic, emotion, and ethics) in legal persuasion. Students learn how to represent a client in a persuasive manner through three major assignments: writing a legal “brief” to be filed with a court and read by a judge or a panel of judges, presenting an oral argument before a panel of judges, and negotiating the terms of a legal agreement with opposing counsel.
Throughout this full-year course, the legal writing professors consistently work with students to consider their professional identities as colleagues, writers, Brooklyn Law School ambassadors, and eventual lawyers. We place a high priority on respect for one another, our future clients, our adversaries, the court, the art of legal writing, the rule of law, and the legal system as a whole.
The legal writing classroom at Brooklyn Law School is a collaborative space in which every law student can experiment with and develop his/her authentic lawyer voice, and learn to enjoy reading, thinking, writing, and sharing ideas and thoughts about the law.