Teaching Legal Writing online

Fahy, Elaine, Schweppe, Jennifer, Donnelly, Larry and Kennedy, Rónán (2011) Teaching Legal Writing online. [Conference Proceedings]


Legal writing and research are fundamental skills for lawyers, both professional and academic. While neglected in the past, legal writing and research is fast becoming one of the most fundamental elements of any Law School curriculum. In teaching the subject, the authors have identified two major difficulties.First, traditional classroom based teaching approaches are no longer feasible for the teaching of Legal Writing and Research as they require a significant commitment of staff time, particularly as student numbers increase. Systematic teaching of legal writing requires continuous revisiting of basic issues, something which is not appropriate in a classroom but which can achieved with much less resources and, significantly, no embarrassment to the student through software. Online delivery allows the student to proceed at her own pace, revisit difficult areas repeatedly as necessary without drawing attention to herself, and receive immediate and accurate feedback on what are often very technical skills.Second, in teaching Legal Writing and Research in Ireland, one is immediately hampered by the unavailability of a text which is Irish based and focused. One must instead make use of books written for other jurisdictions, chiefly the UK and US. These are often dated, contain material not applicable to this jurisdiction and do not cater for technologically-savvy students.In response to these challenges, the authors have been working to create a unified set of teaching and learning materials for legal writing and research. This will be shared across a number of Irish third-level institutions (the University of Limerick, Dublin Institute of Technology and the National University of Ireland, Galway), with a significant Web-based component, promoting student centred learning and flexible teaching and learning of transferable core legal skills. The authors will explain the background to the project, demonstrate the Web site and outline planned future developments.

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