Thursday, March 1, 2007

Four Words

For those of you about to embark on the terrible, yet sometimes vaguely interesting journey that is law school, I present to you four little words that will ruin any semester: of law review quality. You may not be on law review. You may not be on any journal, but a seemingly innocuous class will throw you for a loop by requiring a paper of law review quality.

You may think that English degree is all you need to ace a paper class with flying colors. You would be wrong. Very, very wrong. I was an English major. I graduated with honors, which proves I honed my skills of professor mind-reading at a relatively young age, but legal writing is so much different than "normal" writing. In undergrad, I could wax poetic for pages and pages. All I had to do was demonstrate that (a) I had actually read all the assigned material and (b) that I understood how the texts fit or "read" together and could write about them in a way that made sense. In legal writing classes, you actually must have facts to support your bullshit. No facts? No dice and an "F" to boot.

Of Law review quality is really shorthand for a soul-sucking paper or article that requires copious amounts of research, followed by gobs of writing (and re-writing), which usually culminates in submission to an incredibly critical legal expert (your Professor or employer) who either (a) humiliates you or (b) gently guides you in the right direction.

I am so lucky because I get to write one paper for my sex class, of law review quality, and an article for work, of law review quality, that actually needs to be more than brain vomit on a page since it will be published in a widely read legal periodical. I may have to buy more wine.


Zuska said...

I just had to do the same at work. It was really, really hard. I spent the entire 12 weeks on it, and still left it in less-than-perfect condition. I felt generally okay with that, because I was "co-writing" it with someone else, and I had taken my work from pretty crappy to pretty good and she had yet to do much on it. But still, I don't think I was prepared for just how hard it would be.

LawSchoolMom said...

I am in hell. Seriously. Originally, I was only supposed to co-author the article, but now it's all me, which is great but incredibly nerve-wracking.

I'm just afraid of mucking it up and being the laughingstock of the legal community.

Okay, that probably won't happen but I DO have a healthy amount of anxiety especially since article writing will be an on-going work duty. I need to get really good at it really quickly to make a favorable impression.

Did you co-author any articles at Future Firm? If so, how was that experience compared to your co-op experience? Did the managing attorney at your co-op also seemed stressed by article writing?

Just trying to gauge whether legal writing anxiety is normal and whether it gets better (and easier) with time.