Today’s law students approach their legal education with a clear focus on acquiring the skills needed to succeed in the “real world” of lawyering. Legal writing professors can leverage this focus on the real world by using real cases to teach the principles of persuasive writing. This article describes a “case-study” method in which students analyze materials from real cases to learn the most critical components of persuasive writing – development of a theme, organization of legal arguments, and best use of case authority. As part of this exercise, students step into the role of the practitioner and construct arguments applying the law to facts taken from a real case. Students then compare their arguments to the arguments made in a real brief and assess whether the real brief met their expectations about how best to persuade a reader.
This exercise provides multiple benefits for students, including making a strong connection between the principles being taught in the classroom and the use of those principles in private practice. Students gain confidence as they become able to identify and apply core persuasive writing techniques to a real-world scenario, then compare their work against that of the practitioner. By “making it real,” this exercise motivates students to analyze more deeply, thereby honing their skills.
Nova Law Review
Shaver, Elizabeth, "LRW's The Real World: Using Real Cases to Teach Persuasive Writing" (2013). Akron Law Publications. 187.