Untangling Students’ Fears about 1L Oral Arguments

By: Professor Heidi Brown

It’s 1L oral argument season again. Many legal writing faculty colleagues are eagerly gearing up to schedule argument practice rounds for their students as part of the course curriculum. I’ll admit, this component of our 1L legal writing curriculum gives me residual angst. I sit in my office staring at my syllabus and wishing my students could just slide their appellate briefs into a dropbox and skip right to summer break. I know, I know…I’m the educator now, not the traumatized 1L student I once was. My disastrous oral argument was nearly three decades ago. I should be over it by now, right? I should be excited to impart wisdom to my students about the substance and style of oral persuasion. I’m not. Instead, I absorb the anxiety and fear that many of them experience about this law school rite of passage. The anxiety and fear are real. They’re palpable. Continue reading “Untangling Students’ Fears about 1L Oral Arguments”

Share our content!

Educating The Whole Lawyer: Mind, Body, and Spirit

By: Kathleen Elliott Vinson & Shailini J. George

“I am anxious, stressed, and tired all the time.  I have a headache, and my body aches. I feel stupid.  I’m not good enough. Why am I the only one who doesn’t get it?  I’ll never get all this work done.  I feel so overwhelmed.  I feel like I am surviving but not living.”

Does this sound familiar: negative thoughts, physical tension, anxiety, and stress?  You are not alone.  This message plays in the mind of many students, colleagues, and even clients.

Lawyer well-being should begin in law school.  While law school tends to focus on teaching students how to “think like a lawyer” to prepare them for practice, what about students’ psychological, emotional, and physical well-being?  How are students learning these important skills that are also essential in preparing them for the stresses of law practice?  They may be more important than you think to enhance lifelong resilience and success.  To be an effective advocate for your client, you must first take care of yourself.  It is hard to be a good lawyer if you are not a healthy lawyer. Continue reading “Educating The Whole Lawyer: Mind, Body, and Spirit”

Share our content!

Legal Writing Like an Entrepreneur

By: Professor Joe Regalia

“Tomorrow becomes never. No matter how small the task, take the first step now!”

–Tim Ferriss 

Elon Musk’s work style embodies what every entrepreneur wants to be: ridiculously efficient, meticulously organized, and so productive that everyone around him wonders how he manages it all. He runs multiple mega companies, dozens of projects, and spends several days a week with his five children. And he does it all by taking the same sort of productivity and organizational principles that startups use to build good businesses–and applying them to his own life.

This very silicon valley trend of maximizing personal efficiency works. Musk reportedly schedules his day in five-minute increments, making it impossible for him to waste time. “From the second [Musk’s] head lifts off his bedroom pillow at 7 a.m., his day has already been pre-planned in advance.” And Musk is not an outlier: the best entrepreneurs are famous for bringing efficiency and productivity not just to their businesses, but to their personal habits, too.

Then you have lawyers. We may be the most inefficient, unproductive gang. We seem to take about twice as long to do everything. People literally talk about hiring a lawyer just to delay things.

It’s not just what others think about us: lawyers and law students really struggle with efficiency and productivity. And a lot of it comes down to our writing. I constantly get questions about how to deal with procrastination and the overwhelming feelings that come with putting together briefs and motions. When you step back, it’s easy to understand why. Legal writing is overwhelming. You have to figure out your goals, research tons, research some more, organize your points, write something, edit, scrap things (and maybe start over) when it all doesn’t turn out–and on and on. Then mix in some unreasonable deadlines. Little surprise that legal writing is where many of us have our meltdowns.

But entrepreneurs seem to be able to handle multitasking and deadlines just fine. So what can they teach us here? Continue reading “Legal Writing Like an Entrepreneur”

Share our content!

Candy Bowl: A Sweet Way to Teach Persuasive Writing

By: Professor Abigail Perdue, Wake Forest University School of Law (with attribution to Professors Heather Gram and Catherine Wasson)

Last summer, I attended the LWI Biennial Conference in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. During the first day of the conference, I participated in a teaching workshop where Legal Writing professors were asked to share one of their most creative teaching ideas. My gifted friend and colleague, Heather Gram, of Elon University shared a delightful way to use candy to teach persuasive advocacy.[1]

Fast forward to this February when students seemed more focused on the upcoming Super Bowl than learning how to smoothly transition from objective to persuasive writing. Suddenly, memories of Professor Gram’s sweet idea inspired me to hold my first ever CANDY BOWL! This collaborative, timed exercise is a creative way for students to put ethos, logos, and pathos into practice. And you can enjoy it even if you weren’t rooting for the Patriots! Continue reading “Candy Bowl: A Sweet Way to Teach Persuasive Writing”

Share our content!