Law deans often hear employers say, send us graduates who can write decently. But what does that mean?
No memo or brief or letter is better than what’s in it. No amount of style and form, attention to punctuation and phrasing, can make good writing out of unreliable information and bad judgments. A good piece of writing is much more than phrasing, commas, and semicolons.
On the other hand, no amount of solid research and brilliant analysis will be useful until it’s communicated effectively to others. If your work requires writing, then your work is no better than your writing.
All law-school graduates can write, but few write really well. That’s always been true. That’s why the first few years of practice are so crucial: it’s a period of apprenticeship. The lifelong education that lawyers undergo is just beginning. It isn’t at an end. So the lawyers and staffers at LawProse Inc. have devoted ourselves to continuing legal education. We’ve seen major improvements even in elders at the bar: 50-year lawyers typically recognize that they still have much to learn.
Since our beginnings in 1990, our job at LawProse has been to figure out what law graduates don’t yet know but desperately need to know to be effective communicators. Those are the only things we teach.
So maybe, if you’re talking to a law dean, you might say, “Send us graduates who are developing their potential to write decently.” That statement is more in line with reality.