The law is a discipline and a discourse community, and legal writing is a very specific type of disciplinary writing with its own unique set of rhetorical rules. Law students come to law school from a very disparate set of undergraduate and professional backgrounds, and therefore they come to their legal writing courses from a disparate set of perspectives. These different perspectives mean that different students are differently situated in how quickly and easily they are able to transition into understanding the discipline of law — which is new to them.
A new book arrived in my mailbox today that may help students from various educational and professional backgrounds begin to understand legal reasoning and legal writing more quickly and easily.
The book, by Teri A. McMurtry-Chubb, a professor at Mercer University’s law school, is entitled Legal Writing in the Disciplines. The summary of the book describes the book’s purpose as follows:
“Legal writing is disciplinary writing, not just another form of technical writing. . . . Legal Writing in the Disciplines reconceptualizes law in its disciplinary context. The text is designed to effectively communicate legal analysis and writing skills to pre-law and new law students using the language of their undergraduate and graduate majors.”
The book contains chapters geared toward explaining legal writing to law students who come from backgrounds in five categories: science, social sciences, arts, humanities, and business.
I have a copy of the book in my office if anyone would like to borrow it. Our library may also have a copy (or be willing to obtain one). And of course, you can purchase it on Amazon.com and elsewhere.