Academic Legal Writing (Fourth Edition)

The Fourth Edition of my Academic Legal Writing: Law Review Articles, Student Notes, Seminar Papers, and Getting on Law Review book is now out. Besides being on Amazon, it’s also available directly from Thomson.

Call me biased, but I think this makes an excellent present for anyone who’s about to go to law school, or for that matter anyone who is about to start the second or third year, when students often write seminar papers and Notes. Here are some reviews from readers and from professors.

What are the new features in the Fourth Edition, you might ask? Here are the main ones: (1) Aspiring writers need to see examples of good writing and not just warnings about bad writing. The new edition therefore includes an entire highly successful student Note — which has been cited over 100 times, more than the overwhelming majority of articles written by professors — coupled with detailed commentary on what makes each section of the Note effective. (2) The new edition also provides more (a) advice on finding article topics, (b) guidance on conducting research, (c) tips on effective word choice, and (d) recommendations on how to use evidence correctly. (3) The new edition also contains, for the first time, a section on writing article abstracts.

The publisher isn’t sending me author’s copies for signing and resale. But if you’d like me to send you a free personalized bookplate (basically just a label) to be pasted inside the book, just e-mail me at volokh@law.ucla.edu and tell me (1) the name and address to which you want the bookplate sent, and (2) the inscription you’d like me to use.

Finally, here’s one of my favorite reviews, which was written by a professor (Norman Garland) with regard to an earlier edition, but which I think should apply to the new one as well:

Last year I learned that Professor Eugene Volokh, a prolific and superb acamedician and author, had written a book with a blueprint for writing in law school and beyond. My expectation was that the book would be good, but I was awed by just how good it was. Prof. Volokh (pronounced “Volk” I am told) has done an enormous service for academics like myself who struggle to help students and young colleagues to learn the art of writing in the legal domain. That means papers for law school, articles for student publication, and beyond, when a person enters the profession and seeks to enhance his or her name. Now he has a second edition, adding two chaper: one on getting on to law review (a major benefit for law students), and the other advice on how to enter writing competitions.

Let me tell you how much I love this book. I bought ten copies of the first edition and distributed it to some of my students who I thought could benefit from it (although all can). My first choice to give one to was a protege of mine who was my research assistant, a moot court competitor (interscolastic), and a candidate for the law review board at the time. She advised me when I handed her the book, that it was required by all law review candidates–the board of editors run a program at my school and require the text.

Next, I have a colleague who had not been writiing. I gave a copy of the book to him and he seems to have moved on to produce a publishable piece. My wife, who went back to law school to get an LLM degree had to engage in some serious writing. I gave her a copy of the book and she got very high grades on her work and is considering turning one of them into an article.

So, when the new edition came out last week, I ordered 10 copies of it to spread the word again this year. I have been a professor of law for 37 years. I am thrilled that Professor Volokh saw fit to share his wisdom and insight into academic legal writing. Not since the original writing book that I learned from, Strunk and White’s Elements of Style, has there been a book that I could recommend so heartily. If you are considering writing for law school or after, buy this book.

My one reservation about the review is that my name is usually pronounced “Vollock.”