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Academic Legal Writing:

A very nice review from Tiger Jackson and Jeff Newman, in 11 Scribes J. Legal Writing 141 (2007):

Every law student is encouraged to try to make law review, but no one has ever explained how to do it as well as Volokh. His tone and style are so natural that you can hear his voice in your mind. Starting from scratch, he explains what a law review is, why the experience is valuable, what the write-on competition entails, how to boost your chance of success on it, and what the staff of a law review does. He demystifies the details of the write-on, making this section alone well worth the price for first-year law students.

But even a student who has no desire to be on law review will find this book enormously helpful for writing a seminar paper. In addition to reviewing important points of writing style (e.g., passive voice, legalese, redundancy), Volokh briefly explains the often-overlooked elements of logic and rhetoric and how their misuse can diminish an argument. Unlike most other writing guides, Volokh's book spends plenty of time showing the reader how to use evidence and why it must be critically examined rather than blindly accepted. Even though only five pages are especially devoted to seminar papers, much of the advice Volokh dispenses about writing for law review applies just as well to writing for a professor, and Volokh explains why. He encourages students to consider submitting papers to competitions and even to other law reviews, whether or not they are on their own schools' law review.

Despite the subtitle, this book isn't just for law students. Novice and experienced law-review writers will also find sound advice for improving their writing and expanding their markets. Volokh systematically guides the reader through the stages of producing publishable legal writing, from choosing your subject to methodically researching it, writing about it, and submitting the piece for publication. This book is a must-have for every law student. We also recommend it for practitioners interested in writing and publishing scholarly papers.

So the book is a nice present for incoming law students, for students who are starting their second year and plan to participate a law review write-on competition, for students who plan to write a student article (whether for law review or otherwise), or for graduates who are contemplating going into teaching and thus need to write more.

As I mentioned before, the publisher no longer gives me copies than I can sign and sell. But I've finally made up some bookplates — basically labels with a simple design on them — that I'll happily inscribe, sign, and send to anyone who asks. Send no money, but e-mail the address and the preferred inscription (if you have a preference) to volokh at law.ucla.edu.

Skyler (mail) (www):
How about a title or link to the book on amazon so we can buy it after such a glowing review?
5.6.2008 3:30pm
Anony:
The title is "Academic Legal Writing"
Here's the Amazon Link

I picked up a copy a while back and found it very helpful.
5.6.2008 3:42pm
theobromophile (www):
So it's a nice present for incoming law students, for students who are starting their second year and plan to participate a law review write-on competition, for students who plan to write a student article (whether for law review or otherwise), or for graduates who are contemplating going into teaching and thus need to write more.

Ya know, all of my friends gave me stress-relief stuff before I started law school (chocolate, massage items, aromatherapy). Your book seems more practical. :)
5.6.2008 3:52pm
Eugene Volokh (www):
Skyler: Whoops, thanks, updated it.

Theobromophile: Why not both?
5.6.2008 3:57pm
tjotoole (www):
This small book deserves the praise it's getting here. Academic Legal Writing is principally about how to think about law and how to communicate legal ideas effectively. Most of the offerings in this area are style/grammar books, containing material you would have learned if you had been paying attention in undergrad classes. Prof. Volokh's book teaches you how to write like a lawyer who can write.
5.6.2008 4:03pm
Dave N (mail):
Now if only someone would write a decent book on non-academic legal writing. As I have said before, legal writing is one of the most important skills taught in law school--and it frequently is the one taught most incompetently.
5.6.2008 5:47pm
OrinKerr:
Dave N,

Calling Nino.....
5.6.2008 7:23pm
Sean M:
Speaking as someone in the depths of write-on right now, I could not agree more with this review. Prof. Volokh's book was a lifesaver.
5.6.2008 7:48pm
Dave N (mail):
Orin,

I am looking forward to Scalia's book.
5.6.2008 9:37pm
Ron MeXXXico:
Volokh's book is great (and highly recommended for law review write-ons and notes). For those looking for non-academic books, Brian Garner has been doing that extremely well for decades. Look up his books and buy them all. And for those looking forward to Scalia's book (which I've read and find to be great!), note who the co-author is. . .
5.6.2008 9:43pm
theobromophile (www):
EV - good point. :) One of my best friends will be starting law school in the fall. Care packages to the LA area are in order!

(Actually, I can give her the stress-relief stuff while she's going through the application process and trying to get off the w.l. at her top-choice school, then your book at the beginning of fall term.)
5.6.2008 10:47pm
scotto (mail):
Kudos on the review. I love the book and I recommend it to all the 1ls behind me. Unfortunately, I didn't use it nearly enough in writing my student comment. If you were planning on updating, however, I would request more space on case notes, since as you acknowledge most write-ons are of this variety. I guess I can't complain though, since I credit your guidance on making law review in the first place.
5.7.2008 2:57am
Donna B. (mail) (www):
I remain very pleased with my purchase of the book for my daughter and son-in-law when they were in law school.

They got one of the autographed versions and it was very funny when they called to thank me and my daughter said "I can't believe you know who Eugene Volokh is!"

My daughter went on to become law review editor and received a very nice monetary award in a writing competition.

Needless to say, the book doesn't replace talent and an intense desire to succeed, but it certainly augments them.
5.7.2008 12:32pm