Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Practice Makes Perfect

During my first year of law school, it was a laborious task to write a Closed Memorandum (an analysis of legal issues from a "closed" set of sources).

Then, I moved on to an Open Memorandum, where the entire legal universe was up for grabs in my paper. I didn't know where to start, what it was that I was looking for, how to look for it... I was lost. Then, once I DID find some research, I had to figure out how to use it, and how to piece things together into a coherent and persuasive argument. But even then I had some guidance. We had mandatory and optional conferences with our legal writing professor, and we could express concerns and seek help. After much effort, I managed to throw a little something together.

The summer after my first year, I interned with a judge in Miami. My job was to review arguments on appeals the court was scheduled to hear. I would read and research both sides in each case, and then I would embark on additional research. Most of this research was related to Criminal Law and Criminal Procedure (courses I had not yet taken in law school), so I was kind of learning on the go. However, the experience was great, and I began writing memoranda with great efficiency and ease.

Fast forward to the present day.

I've been working about 3 1/2 weeks now, and I've worked on all sorts of legal matters (Employment, Securities, Property, Franchise, Contracts, and many other topics). What I really have noticed, however, is the ease with which I'm pumping out these memos now. Within the past couple days, I threw together a 26 pager, outlining 8 arguments that could win in court.

Although I never appreciated the legal writing experiences I have had in the past, the results are beginning to show -- particularly my skills in analysis and argumentation.

So for those of you about to start law school, or just finishing your first year and dreading having to write memos all summer long... just relax, take it in as a learning experience, and it will pay dividends down the road.

You stay classy!


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