By Kathleen Elliott Vinson
Professor of Legal Writing and Director of Legal Writing, Research, and Written Advocacy
Getting back that first legal writing memo assignment with your professor’s critique and grade – what could be more stressful for a 1L. But, students should view it as an opportunity.
In practice, senior lawyers and supervisors are often too busy to give junior lawyers feedback or are not trained in how best to give constructive criticism. Thus, while in law school, you should seek out and welcome feedback from experienced faculty who take the time to carefully read your written work and provide you with helpful suggestions that you can apply to future memoranda. Focus on the macro, big picture first, instead of smaller micro-level details. Get an overview of your biggest strengths and then focus on major areas needing work.
By utilizing the opportunity to understand what you did correct, what you need to change, and how to improve, it will strengthen your writing skills (and your ability to persevere). Review your professor’s feedback in the spirit it is intended – to help you become a better writer.
Kathleen Elliott Vinson is a Professor of Legal Writing and Director of Legal Writing, Research and Written Advocacy at Suffolk University Law School in Boston. For more on Suffolk’s legal writing program, visit suffolk.edu/law/lps.