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Wayne Schiess

No point-by-point response here. Just want to point out a big difference in the way we look at teaching legal writing.

I think the greatest weakness in legal writing is failure to understand the material. When writers don't fully understand the authorities they are using or the analysis they are constructing, they tend to fall into bad writing habits.

I think the second greatest weakness is the failure to use analogical reasoning (comparisons) instead of rule-based reasoning (mere assertions) in applying authority to a problem.

I think the third greatest weakness is the failure to organize and order the material in a sensible way.

I think the fourth is failing to connect ideas and sentences and paragraphs.

So what you say is the greatest weakness--failure to recognize and use the stress position--is probably fourth on my list. Is that a fair assessment?

Why would that be so?

I think the differences in our views arise because you do not have to teach first-year law students. You do not have to teach novices how to introduce an authority, how to explain an authority, how to cite an authority, where to cite an authority, or how to apply an authority to the facts. You do not have to teach novices how to frame an issue, how to state a conclusion, how to introduce a counter-argument, or how to order a legal analysis. You teach only grown-up lawyers. So you can focus on using the stress position because your students have already studied--even if they have not mastered--the basics of analytical legal writing.

So it's hard for me to accept your assessment: "As I see it, you are overly concerned with certain aspects of the surface appearance of prose."

That's what I thought about you.

I was just responding to your assertions about what writing teachers are teaching that is wrong. Those aren't the things I value. I can't afford to. My students need to learn how to construct a memo and a brief. There's no time for stress position or passive voice.

Different perspectives, I guess.

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