RPK 214 PART B – Starts 21 Feb 2012 Welcome to: LEGAL WRITING eLEARNING
"Lawyers in practice are generally judged by the final product they produce: the written, negotiated text. Clearly, in my firm, the first thing new lawyers will be judged upon is their writing. The fastest way to get ahead as a new lawyer is to be an able writer. The fastest way to fail is to be a poor writer. Bryn Vaaler, Compositional Practice: A Comment on "A Liberal Education in Law," 1 J.ALWD 148, 149 (2002)
PREFACE TO LEGAL WRITING Welcome to Part B of the RPK 214 module: legal writing. (Part A of RPK 214 of course refers to Mrs Coetzees work on research...) During the first year of your legal studies you would have been introduced to aspects of legal writing, namely writing in plain language, drafting office memorandums and heads of argument. In RPK 214 you will have an opportunity to not only improve on your general language and argumentation skills, but mainly to refine your writing proficiency by completing continuous writing exercises, both in class and as written assignments.
YOUR Lecturer… Adv Jo-Marí Visser Department: Procedural Law & Law of Evidence Tel: 051 – 401 9770 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org@ufs.ac.za Room 114, CR Swart building CONSULTATION: Personally: MONDAYS 09:00 – 11:00 Via e-mail: Any time! Contact persons: - Adv Visser - Mrs C Nel (NelC1@ufs.ac.za)
FACILITATION OF LEARNING The RPK 214 module consists of 16 credits What does this mean for me, the student? This means that to successfully complete this subject, approximately 160 notional hours of study have to be dedicated to the module. This gives you an idea of what is required of you to successfully complete this module... Should you require assistance or guidance in your studies or writing work, the lecturer is available to during eChats and via e- mail.
NB Info on RPK 214… Go through each lecture on time View lectures Study accompanying material Complete class exercises on time!!
CLASS TESTS / EXERCISES... Completed & submitted within a given time period: submission date 07/05/2012! NO late submissions Best 4 considered ASSIGNMENT 1: 30 MARCH NO LATER THAN 17:00 ASSIGNMENT 2: 13 APRIL – NO LATER THAN 17:00 Assignments available on Blackboard...
HOW DO I SUBMIT MY ASSIGNMENTS? E-mail........... Line spacing & alignment must be correct! Wooden assignment box – 2 nd floor CRS building Blackboard........... Line spacing & alignment must be correct!
Failure to submit any one of the assignments will result in a mark of ZERO for that assignment and NOT AN INCOMPLETE This means that if you missed one assignment, you can still write the examination but your semester mark will suffer greatly Because this compromise has been made, NO LATE SUBMISSION WILL BE ACCEPTED Late acceptance will only be achieved if compelling & substantial circumstances have been proven to head of department by the defaulting student
Please study the information on assessment as included in the file on this lecture...
Please note that DECLARATION OF OWN WORK FORM must be submitted along with assignments! Failure to attach this plagiarism- avoidance document 0 for assignment The forms are available on Blackboard under DECLARATION OF OWN WORK FORMS
Let us begin with legal writing! PLEASE STUDY THE INFORMATION IN STUDY UNIT 1 – THE WORD DOCUMENT AS ATTACHED WITH LECTURE 1
- Type of technical writing used by lawyers, presiding officers, legislators, etc. to express legal analysis, rights, duties, opinion, advice, etc. - Some legal documents are written in specific format BUT! THE CONTENTS ARE ALWAYS IN PLAIN ENGLISH
- It is NOT fun / interesting to read… …It is PERSUASIVE / INFORMATION! - Cannot be misunderstood - It is NOT verbose / filled with legalese - In PLAIN ENGLISH…
Most NB tool for a good lawyer WORDS Words INFORM & PERSUADE Use of words must be informative & persuasive Good use of words include: Proper use of language Proper grammar Proper spelling NO SMS language!!
Most legal writing is atrocious! -Judge Mark P Painter There are two things wrong with most legal writing. One is style. The other is content. -Fred Rodell Dean: Yale Law School 23 Va.L.Rev. 38 (1936)
? WHY IS LEGAL WRITING PROBLEMATIC? Language skills underdeveloped SMS LANGUAGE!! Students learn by example Case law Legislation Practice – Old ideas die hard Greetings Know ye that I, John Dull from Bloemfontein, South Africa, for and in consideration of R5 000-00, to me in hand paid by Jane Jones, do by these presents for myself, my heirs and assigns, remise, release, and forever discharge Jane Jones…
Writing = skill that can be learned Practice, practice, practice Dictionary! Skills in organizing text, structuring sentences & using vocabulary FULFILL YOUR FUNCTION!
LEGAL WRITING LEGAL ANALYSISLEGAL DRAFTING PREDICTIVE ANALYSIS PERSUASIVE ANALYSIS - Considers authority & predicts outcome -Opinion - Advice - Persuades reader of clients case - Arguments - Letter of demand - Contracts - Letters - Wills, trusts, etc. Academic writing
Class exercise 1 The following extract is an example of BAD legal writing. Read it and rewrite it into better, plain legal language as far as possible, without losing its meaning. This exercise is available on Blackboard on the left side of the screen under CLASS EXERCISES Please submit this class exercise on time...