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Upon entering law school, an aspiring lawyer will be required to draft cohesive, convincing law essays as part of their coursework and then as part of their subsequent career. Law essays differ from the conventional essays that undergraduate students have been required to write; consequently, know how to write these essays and knowing the differences is an advantage. The depth of analysis of the topic and level of required research is the primary difference between a legal essay and other academic papers. Background research and extensive knowledge of the topic are required in order to develop convincing legal arguments. The art of legal writing consists of the ability to write only what is necessary for as few words as possible and omitting anything that is not relevant.
“How to write a law essay?” you may ask. No worries – we are here to help.
Context Is the King
In traditional education, students are taught to begin outlining the main points in the first sentence of your essay, but when drafting a law essay, context is imperative. It is recommended that in a law essay, the paper begins with some legal background that provides a foundation for the arguments that will follow. Open your paper with one to three sentences of background information that provides context for the argument that follows. One example is:
The Supreme Court reviewed specific application of capital punishment in the 1940s and 1950s and in each reviewed case, the issue of constitutionality of the death penalty was not addressed.
Follow the Essay Format
Essays are typically structured in a five paragraph format beginning with the introduction, following with two to three convincing paragraphs and closing with a conclusion to wrap it up.
After proving the necessary background information in your introduction, it is important to directly relate the references back to the specific question being addressed. Clearly, refer to the question in the introduction portion of the essay by utilizing key terms throughout the essay to tie the arguments together. For example, if the question is: “Does […] bill fundamentally violate the […] amendment?” the essay should refer back in the following way:
This essay will analyze the […] bill and examine the various ways that it violates the […] amendment.
Consider the Audience
Identify the audience of the essay prior to outlining your arguments. If your legal essay is an assignment that is meant to establish a knowledge of legal jargon and terminology learned in class, utilizing such language and terminology is appropriate. However, if the legal essay is directed towards the general public or a special interest group, legal terms are not recommended. For essays directed towards those not within the legal community, plain language is preferred and will more clearly define your arguments.
Legal essays may be written at different levels of complexity and some may require additional paragraphs for extensive arguments and supporting information. Law essays are not opinions, so writing in clear confident sentences and providing sufficient support will ensure that your essay is top notch.
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