Feedback on Critical Paper 2 and Guidance for LSTD 2106—Fall 2020
• The issue section should simply state the legal issue(s) that your paper will analyze. The issue section is not the introduction of a traditional essay. • Where there is more than one issue or rule, be sure to clearly separate those – don’t mingle them or confuse them. Be clear in the analysis section which issue and/or rule is being discussed. Each issue can be addressed in a separate paragraph in the analysis. If you have two issues, for example, label them (1) and (2), and then label the corresponding rules in the Rules section as (1) and (2), and label the corresponding paragraphs in the Analysis as (1) and (2). • Use headings (that is, label the issues by stating “Issues,” and so forth). • State the legal rules in the Rules section clearly and comprehensively, but concisely. This was probably the biggest challenge in Critical Paper 1. How you state the legal rule is important, because you’ll take that rule and then apply it to the facts in the Analysis section of your paper. The legal rule(s) must be stated in such a way that a judge who reads the rule would know exactly what standard to apply. The rule must therefore be an accurate statement of the law, and must also be actionable (that is, capable of being used as a guide in the analysis). Be clear about what the rule is. For a rule defined by elements, list the elements and briefly discuss each. • Be sure to put a brief parenthetical citation in your paper if you are taking a legal test or any other information from the textbook (which you are certainly allowed to do in these Critical Papers)—e.g., “(Textbook at p. 140).” • The analysis should focus on the how and the why. So in Critical Paper 2, a strong analysis would focus on explaining exactly how and why the Defendant’s conduct met (or didn’t meet) the elements of the Plaintiff’s claim. Explicitly tie the facts back to each legal test to show the reader how and why your conclusions are sound. In other words, connect your assertions in the analysis to the relevant legal rule from the rule section. Don’t stop with a mere assertion. Don’t simply restate the facts: work with them, combining the facts with the legal tests to show the reader how and why your conclusions are correct. • Avoid informal language. • Please do not use phrases such as “I feel that …” or “I believe that …” I am assessing your ability to analyze a case, not your feelings concerning the case. An analysis is an intellectual exercise (not an emotional one) in which reason is used to apply a legal rule to the facts in an analysis. Remove the first-person narrative from your paper. Just tell the reader what you think; there’s no need to introduce what you think by stating “here’s what I think.” The reader understands that what you have written is what you think. • Edit your paper before submitting it. I recommend reading it out loud, word by word. In anything you write, ask yourself “is this really the best way to express what I’m thinking?” Try to find the clearest and most persuasive way to express every thought in every sentence.
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