To fine-tune legal writing courses to better prepare law students to enter legal practice, Professors Constance Krontz and Susan McClellan surveyed judges and practicing attorneys who supervise the work of first-year associates or judicial law clerks. They selected attorneys from a variety of practices in Washington State, including offices of public defenders and state prosecutors, the Attorney General's office, and private firms of various sizes. They sought information about the performance of all first-year clerks and associates, without reference to where they obtained their law degrees. Knowledge of the bench and bar's perception of the oral and written performance of recent law school graduates generally can inform all legal writing programs. Such knowledge can help legal writing professors determine whether the skills we are targeting are those the students will need when they begin clerking or practicing law. They presented the results of the survey at The Legal Writing Institute's Summer Conference in July 2000. This article describes the survey, summarizes the results, and offers some suggestions for rethinking areas of emphasis in legal writing programs. The discussion includes some of the panelists' comments as well as those made by the survey's respondents. In addition, Judge Morgan's Top Ten List for Legal Writers appears in the appendix.
Constance Krontz and Susan McClellan,
Improving Legal Writing Courses: Perspectives from the Bar and Bench, 8 LEGAL WRITING: J. LEGAL WRITING INST. 201