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Hitting the Wall as a Legal Writer

Elizabeth Fajans, Brooklyn Law School

Abstract

This article tries to answer a question students frequently ask, but which I often find hard to answer, namely, how they can move from a “B+” or “A-” on a paper to an “A.” Papers at the “B” level or lower have clearly identifiable faults: they lack thoroughness, misstate authority, draw imperfect analogies, make implausible arguments, or contain organizational, grammatical, or citation errors. In contrast, a “B+” or “A-“ paper may make none of these errors; they just lack a certain something, some value-added factor not captured by standard rubrics. Not only are the value-added factors harder to identify and teach, but different criteria and mandatory curves and means make answers tricky. Nonetheless, we owe it to our students to identify what might turn a competent paper into impressive work, even if there are no guarantees. One thing we can do to assist them is to compare the work of successful students with work slightly less finessed in an effort to make the differences visible and thereby attainable; that is what I attempt to do in this essay. In a shrinking job market, independent and nuanced thinking, thoughtful evaluation of assumptions and sources, and artful writing may make the difference between employment and unemployment.

Suggested Citation

Elizabeth Fajans. 2011. "Hitting the Wall as a Legal Writer" ExpressO
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/elizabeth_fajans/21

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