Advice for First Year Law Students: Practice Writing!
Over at PrawfsBlawg, Paul Horowitz offers sage advice to first year law students. For all incoming 1Ls, I recommend that you read Paul’s post.
I have one piece of advice to add — practice writing as much as you can. This advice is best heeded long before you go to law school. Take writing classes in college. Or take a non-fiction writing class outside of college. I believe that there are plenty of courses offered. Or, if you can’t take a course, get books about how to improve your writing. And practice writing on your own. Basically, write, write, write!
Writing is one of the most crucial skills in law school, and it is the one that I find many students could greatly improve. Your law school writing course is designed to teach you how to do legal writing. It is not a general writing course. Many of the problems I see on exams and in student papers stem from general writing issues — inability to write clearly, poor organization, badly articulated concepts, and so on. You can never get enough training in writing. So work on improving this skill, and you’ll likely improve your success in law school.
If you have difficulty in your first year of law school, I recommend taking a writing course over the winter break or over the summer break. Take a course where somebody works with you on basic composition skills. You can never get enough practice.