How to Write a Law School Essay?
Writing a law school essay can be quite complicated and confusing. This article will provide you with a standard guideline you can use in tackling law school essay questions.
What Is A Law School Essay?
Law school essays are normally a response to an exam question or assignment that requires in depth legal analysis of a hypothetical situation. The standard essay follows a guideline known as the IRAC (Issue, Relevant law, Application to facts, and Conclusion).
This part refers to identifying the issue or question at hand. Some issues will be very obvious even from a cursory reading of the question. Other issue may be hidden and you will need to analyze the scenario more deeply to identify them. It is about spotting even the most subtle differences form the ordinary.
Hear you are identifying the specific rules of law that govern the scenario described in the question. Here a student would have to determine if the laws that would apply are statute laws or laws of precedent. They would also have to look into aspects of jurisdiction.
Application to facts
This is the most important part of the analysis. It refers to the application of the already determined rules to the issues at hand. Each rule is analyzed to determine how and whether or not they apply in the situation outlined. The reasoning should be sound. It is here that a solution or answer to the issue is narrowed down on.
The conclusion directly links the issue and its solution. No new rules are introduced. It is the logical outcome of the analysis. In carrying out an IRAC analysis more emphasis and credit is given to the reasoning and organization that brought about the solution rather than the solution itself.
Here are additional steps you can also use in preparing a law school essay:
1. Know What is Expected of You
Even if the essay is part of an exam, you have all semester to learn what your professor expects out of his or her students. You can talk to them, ask previous students and seek out previous essays from students who performed well in the class. All this will provide you with a way of knowing what is expected of you when responding to an essay question.
Get to know the specifics, such as, does the professor enjoy lots of reference to case law and how many pages of argument is too much. Also learn what kind of layout and formatting he or she appreciates.
2. Carefully Choose Your Topics
When given free rein to write your law school essay, be sure to pick carefully. Do not go overboard and try to tackle an issue or case that would require many more pages tan the set limit to properly explore. You would rather focus on just a few key issues than a broad topic. Choose a topic that will allow you to show off what course knowledge you have already acquired.
3. Research Fully
Once you have identified the issues that need to be addressed, delve into them and pull out related statutes, laws and articles. Any resource will do as long as it contributes to the analysis. Start work on your paper early. This way, when you feel you have done enough research, you can submit it early giving the professor a chance to give you feedback. They often hand back papers and encourage a student to dig deeper if they want a better grade.
4. Formulate An Outline
As with any essay, it is a good idea to put down your headings, sub-heading and fill out the issues identified. Do not go to the library to do research and write the essay at the same time. You need to jot down as much information as possible down from your various resources in your outline and use this to put together your essay in a cohesive and seamless manner.
5. Keep The Background Section Short
The background of the case should be kept short and should not be much more than half a page. From here, the student needs to focus on identifying the issues at hand.
6. Must Use Your Course Knowledge
A big part of an essay assignment or exam question is so the professor can be sure you are actually paying attention in class. Thus ensure you apply as much of the course knowledge you have acquired so far to the analysis. If the case you are covering in your paper does not touch on any of the course themes in the class you are attending, then you definitely need to pick a better case.
7. Do A Comprehensive Analysis
Make more than adequate use of various laws that would apply to the issues at hand and clerly analyze how they apply and if not, explain that too. Remember that it is the analysis that will be the focus of the essay and will carry the most weight with your professor.
Once you have completed your first draft, go over it and mark out passages that may be too long. Often than not, less is more. Plus the professor will have seen many similar papers and will probably skim through yours. The main information and arguments are what will draw him or her. Ensure the paper flows well and presents your analysis in a concise manner.
If you are not sure about your writing skills as a classmate to check it out for you and mark out areas that may be in need of some revision. Use spell-check and check on your grammar. Yes, spelling mistakes can cost you marks.
9. Better To Ask For Guidance
Many professors expect their students to seek for guidance when writing their essays. In this way, they can ensure only quality papers are submitted for grading. It is better to ask for help and be shot down than ignore an implied open invitation. In many cases a student can make an appointment to see their professor and discuss their essay. Do not however go empty handed. Have a topic and outline prepared so that you have something to discuss. The professor should be able to guide you on what they expect for such a topic and if not satisfied with it will recommend you pick another one.
1. Remember that a law professor is an expert in their field and has probably read through hundreds, if not thousands, of essays. He or she will be able to tell if you have actually made a concerted effort to do the research.
2. Remember that the professor will only give you something that will touch on the course he is teaching. If you find your analysis not adequately taking course material into consideration, then you are doing something wrong.
3. Do not wait till it is almost time to hand in essays before asking for help. Get a head start and you will find your professor more receptive. If you rush to him or her when other students are doing the same, you cannot expect the same level of aid.
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