Scholarly writing has long been a part of the upper-level law school curriculum. Like children thrown into the deep end of the pool to see if they can swim, every year, thousands of upper-level law students are asked to write a scholarly paper to satisfy an upper-level writing requirement on a topic likely of little acquaintance to them. For many of these law students, the scholarly writing process is daunting1 given the unknown subject matter, the lack of structured feedback and guidance, and the inability to become engaged or inspired by the project because of the often-isolating experience of writing a scholarly paper. These students, whether they are writing journal notes, seminar papers, independent writing projects, or LL.M. theses, will have varying levels of success with these projects. Like a swimmer who barely makes it to the other side of the pool, some will sink—submitting a weak paper that meets the minimum requirements. Some will reach the other side of the pool more successfully, but only after struggling through long periods of treading water. These students will submit a final paper, but even the well-written papers will not reflect an enjoyable, engaged experience for students. A handful of students will take on the challenge with strong instruction and guidance from an able coach; this group of students will have a uniquely enjoyable scholarly writing experience producing a strong contribution to student scholarship. Some of these students will even see their work published.
Jessica W. Clark & Kristen E. Murray,
The Theoretical and Practical Underpinnings of Teaching Scholarly Legal Writing,
Tex. A&M L. Rev.
Available at: http://scholarship.law.tamu.edu/lawreview/vol1/iss3/4