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1L Resource Guide: First Year Legal Writing

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CITATION

The Law Library's Legal Writing: Citation Guide provides information on resources to help you master the Bluebook. You can also Meet with a Librarian to ask questions about citation format and placement.  

NEWS AND BLOGS

Nervous about Your 1L Oral Argument?
Advice from the ABA for Law Students for shy, introverted, or just nervous people preparing to deliver an oral argument for a grade like a rockstar.  Emphasizes avoiding a potentially counterproductive strategy of simply emulating a more confident persona.

Oral Argument: Why I Advise Advocates to Practice Without Notes
From the Law Professor Blogs Network: Memory retrieval practice can help deepen learning for a smooth, conversational oral argument performance free of extensive notes.

Reflections on My First Oral Argument
On the law blog Above the Law, a practicing attorney and recent law school grad shares tips on knowing your argument as well at the opposition’s, practicing it with colleagues, and staying flexible.

Surviving Your First Oral Argument
Law School Toolbox instructs 1Ls on how to study up for the argument, how to organize it, how to channel nervous energy, and staying alert and responsive to judges’ questions.

Untangling Students’ Fears about 1L Oral Arguments
Teach Law Better features advice on how to help nervous students overcome mental barriers to a successful oral argument from a self-described “socially anxious” introvert who transformed herself into a litigator.

LEGAL WRITING GUIDES

Examples & Explanations: Legal Writing (Terrill Pollman & Judith Stinson)
ASU Law Writing Professor Judith Stinson and her co-author walk the reader through the processes of writing objective and persuasive legal documents. Content includes the research process, logical organization, analysis of present facts, and utilizing precedent cases. Emphasizes the importance of revisions and using paragraph thesis sentences for clarity. Also available on Wolters Kluwer

Legal Method and Writing (Volume I and Volume II) (Charles R. Calleros & Kimberly Holst)
ASU Law Professors Charles Calleros and Kimberly Holst introduce readers to key legal analytical skills, such as synthesis of incremental rules and deductive reasoning, along with comparing and distinguishing precedent cases from present facts. Volume I provides annotated examples of objective memoranda, while Volume II provides sample persuasive documents, letters, and contracts.

Legal Reasoning and Legal Writing (Richard K. Neumann, Jr. & Kristen Konrad Tiscione)
Featuring annotated examples of each component of a typical predicative or persuasive legal memorandum.

Legal Writing and Analysis (Linda H. Edwards)
A reference with a strong emphasis on the skills writers need before they begin writing their prose: synthesizing case law, analyzing statutes, and crafting a well-organized outline of the discussion or argument.

Legal Writing and Analysis in a Nutshell (Lynn Bahrych et. al)
Emphasizing pre-writing skills such as organizing an outline in memo format (IRAC, CRuPAC, CREAC, CRAC, etc.), with an emphasis on structuring sentences to enhance the document’s organizational structure and readability. Also available on West Academic.

Legal Writing in Plain English (Bryan A. Garner)
A practical guide for perfecting legal writing skills, with an emphasis on challenging conventions for improved product. Includes exercises that help readers put the author’s insights into practice.

The Mindful Legal Writer (Heidi K. Brown)
Taking time for contemplation, reflection, and meditation on particular legal problems can be the key to mastering persuasive legal writing. This guide can help you achieve new heights in your legal writing by harnessing your awareness.

Plain English for Lawyers (Richard C. Wydick)
A guide to writing clear, concise, and simple prose.

The Redbook: A Manual on Legal Style (Bryan A. Garner)
Covers the basics of punctuation and grammar, with an emphasis on avoiding “Stuffy Words and Legalese.” Also includes tips on authoring law review articles for students composing a graduate writing requirement, and offers several useful examples of objective and persuasive memoranda, opinion letters, and demand letters.

The Tao of Legal Writing (Judith Stinson)
ASU Law Professor Judith Stinson provides instructions on adapting to the nature of advanced legal writing to help students and practitioners achieve greater success. It all begins with being mindful of the key steps throughout the process, from thinking about the problem to research, outlining, writing, and revising.

LEGAL WRITING WEB RESOURCES

10 Tips for Better Legal Writing (ABA Journal)
The American Bar Association presents legal writing expert Bryan A. Garner’s advice on creating proper tone, cutting excess words, and making sure you fully understand your legal issue before addressing it.

Organizing a Legal Discussion (IRAC, CRAC, etc.) (Columbia Law School)
Quickly demystifying the legal memorandum structure, this brief guide offers do’s and don’ts and clear, concise examples to guide new legal writers.

LAW REVIEWS AND JOURNALS

LEGAL WRITING

Cracking the Code to Writing Legal Arguments: From IRAC to CRARC to Combinations in Between (Gerald Lebovits, New York State Bar Association Journal)
Provides instructions on structuring a brief, and offers a handy guide to the wide variety of acronyms that law professors and practitioners use, from IRAAAPC to TREACC.

Legal Writing: The Journal of the Legal Writing Institute
In-depth academic and practical analysis of the art and science of legal writing, including advice on maximizing persuasive impact and writing for scholarly journals.

Ugly Legal Writing (C. Edward Good, Landslide)
Although there may be inherent aesthetic disputes about in-text citations, simple tweaks such as using Microsoft Word Styles on widow and orphan control and refraining from overly stylized headings can improve the appearance (and efficiency) of written legal product.

ORAL ARGUMENT

How to Prep Like a Pro for Your First Oral Argument in Federal Court (Karen L. Stevenson, Litigation News)
Judge Stevenson emphasizes the need for thorough knowledge of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, familiarity with the judge and your opponent, simplicity of any visual aids, and clear, forthright communication.

Understanding Differences Between Trial, Appellate Oral Arguments (Kelly A. Moore, New York Law Journal)
Analyzing the differences between oral argument at the trial court and appellate levels and how attorneys can optimize their effectiveness in the respective settings.

ORAL ARGUMENT GUIDES

Briefing and Arguing Federal Appeals (Frederick Bernays Wiener)
In its sections on oral argument, this resource suggests limiting intense questioning of precedent cases in oral argument, preparing extensively to avoid making inadvertent, permanent, damaging concessions, and refraining from discussing personalities and engaging in sarcasm. It also features an informative critique of a U.S. Supreme Court oral argument, highlighting pitfalls to be avoided.

The Little Book on Oral Argument (Alan L. Dworsky)
This slim, user-friendly book helps you channel your nervous energy to speak conversationally but professionally, minimizing all distracting verbal filler (such as "like" or "um"). It provides tips on looking and sounding confident and professional. It also tells you what to expect in each step of the process, from the initial nervous tension of “May it please the court” to your strong conclusion. And it helps keep you on guard when the judges pepper you with questions.

Making Your Case: The Art of Persuading Judges (Antonin Scalia & Bryan A. Garner)
The late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia and legal writing expert Bryan Garner provide tips on effective advocacy, such as how to differentiate your strongest points from the weak arguments that you should very visibly concede. Although good appellate practice involves appearing before the court without a script, strong oral advocacy involves intensive writing and revising. They also provide tips on appearing poised and strong to the tribunal and detailed advice on optimizing the substance of your argument, such as dealing with a barrage of questions with poise and avoiding unnecessary concessions.

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking (Susan Cain) (chapter 5: Beyond Temperament: The Role of Free Will (and the Secret of Public Speaking for Introverts)
Many introverts, including the author’s tax attorney friend, enjoy deep, one-on-one conversation, but small talk and (especially) public speaking can be harrowing. While introversion might be an innate trait, with practice and encouragement, they can stretch their natures and confidently address an audience.

ORAL ARGUMENT RECORDINGS

Supreme Court of the United States arguments
Features audio of typically question-intensive Supreme Court oral arguments, including all of the appearances by ASU Law Professor Paul Bender. All of his arguments are compiled on Oyez.

9th Circuit Court of Appeals arguments
Features arguments on a wide range of topics in the federal appeals court whose territory includes Arizona.

Arizona Court of Appeals arguments
Discusses the guidelines for attorneys to structure their oral arguments along with providing links to video of current and archived oral arguments.

SCOTUStalk (podcast)
Many episodes feature advocates reflecting on their arguments before the United States Supreme Court, discussing how they developed and delivered their presentations.

California Supreme Court
Oral arguments before the top court in the nation’s most populous state, with summary blurbs to help viewers understand the discussions.

Florida Appeals Court
Archives of oral argument recordings featuring views of the full bench and attorneys’ podium.

Tennessee Supreme Court
Oral arguments before a larger panel of judges, with summary blurbs of the cases to help students follow the arguments.