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Letter of Inquiry Final

Sophia Blake, Ben Carver, Caroline Hecker, David Lorenzo
University of Maryland
College Park, MD 20742

21 February 2018

The Honorable - - - -

RE: Research for Engl 297- Introduction to Professional Writing

Dear Judge - - - - :

We are writing to you as University of Maryland students who are currently working on an
ethnographic research report. We have chosen to research and analyze legal writing from the
varying perspectives of a criminal defense attorney, a judge, a prosecutor, and a politician. We
understand that prior to becoming a judge you were in fact a criminal defense attorney. We are
most interested to learn how a judge’s legal writing differs from that of a trial attorney. Your
expertise would be invaluable to our project. Through this research, we hope to gain insight into
how differing perspectives impact the type of legal writing that is done, and we would be pleased
to share all of our findings and our final portfolio with you.

For this research project, we will be analyzing how various legal professionals use rhetoric in
different ways in their legal writing. We understand that given the field that we are studying,
there is certain confidential information which cannot be discussed. To respect that privilege, we
will make sure that everything that we use in our research is approved by you and will not ask
for information about specific cases. Instead, we will try to understand the rhetorical realm of
legal writing through general texts and past cases. This research project consists of a research
proposal (due 3/7), an ethnographic report (due 4/11), and an annotated research e-portfolio (due
4/25). Other than these dates, we are available to meet with you at your convenience. We know
that your time is valuable and appreciate any accommodation you can make in your busy
schedule to meet with us. We are interested in learning what writing techniques an actor in the
legal field uses depending on his/her role. For this project, we hope to examine how your writing
changes depending on whether you are acting as a defense attorney, a civil prosecutor, or a
Circuit Court judge. Through interviews and data collection, we will compile our rhetorical
analysis of professional writing in these two different fields and compare and contrast the
different approaches to legal writing.

The next step in our research will likely be a short informal interview in preparation for the
research proposal. We can perform the interview over the phone or send you a short list of typed
questions depending on your schedule. If you have questions prior to moving forward about the
study, please do not hesitate to any of our team members via email.
Thank you for your consideration and if you are willing to participate in our study, please send
us an email and we can begin working on the proposal.

Sincerely,

English 297 Legal Writing Team