Legal Essay Writing
George ellison 2008
What is an Essay
An essay is a specific argument which has a theme, logically expressed from start to finish. An essay is an exercise in the handling of relevant ideas, which are clearly expressed.
revise edit Proofread Hand in and celebrate Review work and progress
.The ten steps to success
Prepare Actively research and read Review notes Plan structure Write first draft Leave it Review.
Do not put crucial information in your conclusion that has not previously been discussed in the body of your work. for example. Always acknowledge the source of both evidence and ideas. but assume your reader has basic knowledge of the world. CLARITY Be clear and direct in your style. Don't use more words than are necessary. focus and objectives of your argument or discussion.The Four Principles of (Academic) Communication
HONESTY State only that which you can support with factual evidence. REALITY Explain what needs to be explained. Be direct about your aims and objectives.
. RELEVANCE Consider only that which is relevant to the topic. which particular definition of patriarchy you are using in your argument. Do not include anything that you cannot link to your argument or show its impact on the topic discussed.
The first stage is to think about the title or problem. Plan your use of available time. You may need to decide who your readers are and what they need to know. By default. in order to test your interpretation of the title. assume you are writing for a lawyer without detailed knowledge of the topic under consideration
.Where do I start?
Planning Planning is the key to effective writing. in order to decide the scope and purpose of your answer. dividing the task into manageable sub-tasks. It may be appropriate to discuss your ideas with other students.
but printed materials may not be available when you want them especially if a large group is engaged on the same exercise. You are solely responsible for the accuracy of these references and for complying with the University's rules about plagiarism.
You will need to discover information by conducting library research. The Copyright Licensing Agency rules displayed besides photocopiers have to be complied with. Make notes about your sources. and the Law School is not always able to provide photocopies of relevant materials. including an accurate reference complying with the rules set out in this document. Make full use of printed and electronic searching to find relevant sources. Electronic sources are usually available on demand.
What does an essay test?
Knowledge of a subject Understanding of a subject Your informed views on a subject ± supported by your research
g that topic lecture notes. Are the books.Action Plan
What will I research
Are you Am I researchin looking. key words journals from the the assignmen internet t
Set a When you manageabl have done e time all this table and keep to it
clear and concise Think about the appropriate material to use Reflect on that material Answer the question asked Remember the formula.
.How to approach problem questions (1)
It is important that the answer is well structured. 2. Introduction-what is the area of law involved Argument-tell me a balanced perspective of that area Conclusion-tell me why you told me that and why
4. 3. 5. 6.
.Problem Question (2)
They are designed to enable you to show your legal reasoning ability That means the application of legal rules and principles to given facts How do I achieve this? Read the question carefully Analyse the facts Determine which legal rules and principles apply to the facts Case authorities Organise your answer carefully Remember that there is not necessarily a right answer
argument. conclusion Know where the essay will end and the steps you are going to take to get you there
.How to approach an essay question
It is important that the answer is well structured clear and concise Think about the appropriate material to use Reflect on that material Answer the question-key words such as explain. discuss evaluate should help Remember the formula-introduction.
Designed to enable you to demonstrate some of the following abilities: Explore and reflect on the issues. where appropriate. using relevant illustrative material Identify the strengths and weaknesses of opinion and arguments of others who have engaged with the question s subject matter Draw conclusions. 4. ideas.What is an essay looking for?
. 3. from the argument you have put forward
5. principles and concepts that underlie the law applicable to this question Present a clear well-structured argument to the question Express and justify your own views.
Similarities between the types of essay¶s
The need for your answer to be clear and well structured The need to argue the point you want to make The need to justify the conclusion The need to use relevant illustrative material
Differences between the essay¶s
The opportunity to determine the structure for your answers ( a problem question will often suggest its own answer structure) The opportunity to reflect a more expansive point of law The opportunity to explore and communicate in greater depth and in more detail your own views and those of others The opportunity to be more adventurous. take risks an be original in what you write
Bring that all together
Analyse the assignment question and ensure you can elaborate on the key words and instructional / µsignpost¶ phrases in the question. What does your tutor want to see demonstrated in this assignment? Write with your tutor in mind ± they are your audience! Are the sources and information you are using relevant to the question?
Write in continuous prose. rambling ones. Start a new paragraph for each main idea. Use short. · Make sure that you keep referring to any quotations in the question title.So remember
· The first paragraph should be an introduction where you indicate what
will follow and how you propose to approach the topic. Make sure everything you say is relevant and answers part of the question. clear sentences in preference to long. You may also recommend proposals for reform of the law.
. making clear where it was that information or quotations you use came from. relevant facts or legal authorities. · In the middle part of the essay you will consider all main points and arguments. Try to support each main idea with examples. The last part of the essay will be a conclusion where you sum up the main points and state your opinions if relevant.
It is vital to spend some time determining exactly what the question is asking you.Common mistakes
Below are two fairly typical criticisms of poor academic essay writing: ³A disturbing number of students insist on producing general µwrite all you know about¶ answers.
.´ ³The main finding in answering this particular question is clearly a common problem: the inability to answer the question set.´ The above comments are caused by students not defining and understanding the essay question. usually after latching on to a key word or phrase « and are penalised for the resulting irrelevance.
USE Times New Roman USE a minimum 12 font USE 1.5 spacing USE only ONE side of a page NUMBER each page PUT your name at the top of each page PROVIDE the question on the first page Weighting 5% introduction/80%middle/15% conclusion
. artwork/diagrams (unless specifically permitted). lists. numbers.How should I set out my work
NO subheadings. bullet points.
States that to cite the authority for the statement made in the text. 209.Citing legal authority
EVERY piece of material/information used in your coursework must be correctly spelt and fully and accurately cited. to make acknowledgements. to make cross-references to related information or publications. as Peter Clinch (in Using a Law Library¶. 1992). Footnotes are. acknowledged and footnoted. to make incidental comments on the text. p.(London: Blackstone. FOOTNOTES ARE NOT a means of avoiding the word limit
All case names to be in italics. then µas quoted/cited in «¶ (full reference of book etc. full case citation. law report citation ± NOT media neutral citation (unless case not yet reported). Similarly. NOT µsaid¶. MUST use correct. when quoting. full case citations in numbered footnotes ± footnoting NOT end notes. µit was decided/held that¶. must give CASE citation.e. eg text book. if quoting from a judgment. Lexis etc. but not highly recommended. Westlaw. including any footnote)). citation plus judge plus page reference. µas Denning LJ stated/explained/commented¶. i. (or. NOT µsaid¶. NOT secondary source.
. with names and date in text.
Gray. 1993). (London: Butterworths. p 46. Elements of Land Law. 44
. 2nd edition. the complete reference is needed the first time a work is cited: K.Reference to Books
In footnotes. Elements. The second time the work is cited use: Gray. p.
viva voces. plagiarism. collusion and any other attempts to gain an unfair advantage in assessments.ACADEMIC IMPROPRIETY
Academic Impropriety is µdeemed to cover cheating. accreditation of prior learning portfolios and all forms of examination¶
. demonstrations. presentations. attempts to cheat. Assessment includes all forms of written work.
written or otherwise. of any other person. without clear identification and acknowledgement. from any source whatsoever. unidentified and unacknowledged quotation of phrases from another¶s work. as the candidate¶s own. the deliberate and detailed presentation of another¶s concept as one¶s own. the close paraphrasing of another¶s work by simply changing a few words or altering the order of presentation.´
³the representation of work. Examples of plagiarism may be as follows: the verbatim copying of another¶s work without clear identification and acknowledgment.
without official approval. between two or more students in the preparation and production of work which is ultimately submitted by each in an identical or substantially similar form and/or is represented by each to be the product of his or her individual efforts.´
³the conscious collaboration. Collusion also occurs where there is unauthorised cooperation between a student and another person in the preparation of work which is presented as the student¶s own.