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Legal Writing


This research guide is focused on academic legal writing topics to support the students of the Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law in their academic and professional writing endeavors. It provides guidance on how to choose a scholarly paper topic, conduct a preemption check, stay current on a topic of choice, and avoid plagiarism.

In addition, the guide provides information on both print and online, as well as free and subscription, resources for scholarly legal writing, persuasive legal writing, writing for law practice (litigation and transactional), legislative drafting, and judicial writing. An emphasis is placed on materials available within the print and electronic collections of the Ross-Blakley Law Library.

Guidance on Scholarly Writing

The Legal Scholar's Guidebook (Elizabeth E. Berenguer, 2020)
This guide from an educator specializing in upper level legal writing discusses all stages of crafting a valuable legal article, from choosing a narrow, manageable topic to evaluating sources' credibility. It helps writers process the information already written about a topic, choose a particularly effective paradigm to present legal arguments (such as historical analysis or comparative law), and approach writing with discipline to produce a timely, quality product. Appendices present sample processes including topic selection and outlining, as well as an annotated article highlighting important considerations in the writing process.

Modern Legal Scholarship (Christine Coughlin et al., 2020)
This book breaks down the full process of scholarly writing, from drafting to publication, into understandable and manageable tasks.

Scholarly Writing: Ideas, Examples, and Execution (Jessica Lynn Wherry & Kristen E. Murray, 2019)
This book provides a blueprint for planning, writing, and polishing academic legal writing. It instructs readers on generating ideas, developing breadth and depth of knowledge in research, soliciting and incorporating feedback from reviewers, and shopping papers for publication.

Scholarly Writing For Law Students (Elizabeth Fajans, 2017)
This title teaches law students how to write scholarly papers for seminars, law reviews, and law-review competitions and how to have their work recognized. It helps novices and more experienced scholars alike to write papers with a minimum of anxiety and a maximum of creativity. Employing a process theory of writing, the text first describes the enterprise of scholarly writing and then discusses techniques for brainstorming topics and theses, researching, drafting, and revising for substance and style. 

Academic Legal Writing (Eugene Volokh, 2016)
Designed to help law students write and publish articles, this text provides detailed instructions for every aspect of the law school writing, research, and publication process. Topics covered include law review articles and student notes, seminar term papers, how to shift from research to writing, cite-checking others' work, publishing, and publicizing written works.

Richard Delgado, How to Write a Law Review Article, 20 Univ. San Francisco Law Review 445 (1986)
Discussing the purpose of academic arguments and their varieties, as well as strategies for selecting topics, researching, selecting authorities, and writing.

Shari Motro, The Three-Act Argument: How to Write a Law Article That Reads Like a Good Story, 64 J. Legal Educ. (2015)
This article explains how the recipe for a dramatic plot—exposition, confrontation, and resolution—can liven up legal writing.