Having trouble in legal writing? Is it because your arguments are illogical? Nobody wants to admit that they have trouble putting together a logically coherent argument but logic, like many things, is a skill you can improve with practice.
Students that come from backgrounds in Philosophy, Poli Sci, and Math may get this type of training included in their undergraduate education. Other undergrad disciplines (like my English Literature B.A.) may gloss over this information or assume that students understand these concepts intuitively. Regardless, you can get this training on your own if you have a good guide. Luckily for you, the Ross-Blakley Library has your back:
At LogicMatters.net they have a resource called “Teach Yourself Logic 2017: A Study Guide.” This is a free PDF that will lead the reader from novice to expert. It also gives thorough explanations of the resources so that you can jump in mid-stream if you already have previous training. Guides like this are the next best thing to taking formal classes.
Many of the resources in the guide are available through the ASU catalog; either in print or digitally (and some are even free – like the Modern Formal Logic Primer). Also remember that we can get materials from other institutions through the Interlibrary loan (ILL) so don’t be discouraged if you can’t find it at the ASU libraries. Just fill out the form and we do the rest.
If your issues are more stylistic/format-centered, then we have a host of useful resources in-house to help you with these problems:
The 1L Resource Guide has general recommendations for structuring law school answers and how to approach questions. The Legal Writing Guide will give you more directed advice on finding a book that is specific to the type of writing you want to do. For example, Eugene Volokh has a fantastic book if you are specifically writing an article for Law Review. West Academic has many study guides on the subject of legal writing (that hyperlink will take you directly to the Legal Writing materials). On Wolters Kluwer we have the Examples and Explanations for Legal Writing (which was written by ASU’s phenomenally talented Judy Stinson).
West Academic even has audio lessons in the form of Sum and Substance Audio on Exam Skills: Essay Writing. You can download the mobile app and stream this in your car, on the light rail, or at the gym.
Don’t hesitate to make an appointment to come see us. We’ll help you in any way we can. If you can’t make it to campus, you can always email us. Also don’t forget to decompress with our Mindfulness and Meditation guide.
Sean Harrington, Electronic Resources Librarian