How to Write a Law Essay
Law school has got to be one of the most arduous and demanding paths in the academic world. Getting in is already a tough challenge in itself. Staying and finishing law school is a more rigorous ordeal. To get through law school, one must stay up late most nights due to endless reading, writing, and analyzing. Law students have to familiarize themselves with and master the law and the legal system. Law essays are one of the common assignments given to test the knowledge and analytical skills of a law student.
What Is a Law Essay?
In a nutshell, law essays explore every nook and cranny of the law. It may sound so simple but the trouble here is that there is a broad spectrum of topics that can be discussed. There is no specific rule in writing a law essay as it depends on what the professor asked from the student. Essentially, as with other essays, the author has to give and provide their opinion on the topic given. The difference in law essays is that the author has to uncover complexities and loopholes in the law and use those to strengthen their arguments.
Aside from that, there are three different types of law essays: legal theory essay, quote explanation essay, and jurisprudence essay.
1. Legal theory essay
A legal theory essay essentially aims to define and describe in detail a legal theory. It is preferable that the background or history of the theory is included. The current relevance of a theory is often incorporated in the essay.
2. Quote explanation essay
This type of law essay’s essence is to reveal and interpret the meaning of the quote from a legal point of view. Some professors even ask their students to include their input – if they agree or disagree with the quote and give details and argue as to why.
3. Jurisprudence essay
Jurisprudence essay is considered to be the hardest among the three. A student must read, review, and analyze a specific case. Comprehension is of critical importance to this law essay as the author needs to provide an in-depth analysis of the case.
How to Write a Law Essay
The ideal law student knows how to argue in every medium. Whether it be through speaking or writing, he must be able to relay his arguments in an organized and substantial manner. It is not enough, therefore, for law students to focus on bolstering their ability to speak. A chief requirement among law students is knowing how to produce a first-class law essay writing.
What distinguishes speaking from writing in terms of the arguments is that in the latter, the law student is given much time to deliberate on his and to distinguish which ones from his arsenal are weak from those that are worth forwarding in his paper. The fundamentals of how to write a law essay are rooted in knowing how to write an essay . What is expected with law essays is a well-constructed argumentation that is strongly grounded in the spirit of the law.
It is always best to start in advance or as soon as the professor has given the assignment. This will ensure that there is enough time to prepare and write a quality law essay. The first step of how to write a law essay is to determine the nature of the requirement assigned and do the necessary planning and research. What is being considered here are the following:
The topic lays down the initial parameters of the discussion in the law essay. It is what the law professor will supply to the student, and it is the framework under which the student will operate.
Underlying the topic are legal principles and regulations which the law student must ascertain. As they are not directly stated in the topic, it is left to the law students to identify them and to establish the connection and the relevance.
Contained, also, within the topic is the issue at hand with which the pertinent legal principles are concerned.
Consider these guide questions:
- What legal stipulation, principle, or law is underlying the topic?
- What are the issues being asked about?
- What materials are relevant to the topic?
The question is what the law student attempts to answer through his law essay. It highlights a particular issue regarding the law or a specific case where a rigorous interpretation of the law is required.
Similar to the topic, the question has underlying legal principles and regulations which the law student must discover and connect to what the question is asking for. A student must keep in mind that professors appreciate it when students approach them for insight or create study groups to enrich their learning and discuss among themselves.
Consider these guide questions:
- What is the main issue being discussed?
- What kind of response is being asked for?
- What legal principles are relevant to the question?
Whereas it is feasible for one to write a regular essay on a topic without extensive prior research, it is highly imperative for law students to conduct in-depth, detailed, and comprehensive research on the assigned topic. A well-written law essay cannot be achieved without proper research, evaluation, and collation of data.
As such, the law student must dedicate a sufficient amount of time to doing rigorous research and studies. This is so that when the time has come to write the essay, the only concern for the law student would be to organize them in a coherent manner, readable by anyone aside from himself, and to choose the right words to be able to clearly get the message across.
Consider these guide questions:
Is there enough time to delve into secondary reading materials?
Is the researched information reliable, relevant, and up-to-date?
Did the information come from a trusted or authoritative source such as from experts in the field of law?
In order to make the essay writing process go smoother, making an outline is the best thing do. Writing without a guide quite obvious especially when trained eyes are reading the law essay. Writing a law essay haphazardly is not to be encouraged as it requires a very meticulous construction and presentation.
A mental picture of the structure is not enough in creating a law essay. It needs to be written down so as not to miss an important detail or go beyond what is being asked in the question. The paper must discuss the answer to the question and nothing further. Thus, a clear path needs to be laid down before starting the actual writing.
Consider these guide questions:
- What is the argument or thesis?
- Which data should be presented in order to support the argument?
- Which counterarguments would best convince the reader?
- Not answering the question. Before starting with the research and writing process, one must make sure that the question is understood perfectly. The student must make sure that they have not misread or misunderstood the question. Remember, a law essay must answer the question and nothing but the question.
- The argument is unclear . Maybe the student did understand the question but the problem is the presentation of the argument. Make sure to make the position clear at the very beginning and not just present the argument near the end of the essay. That is very time-consuming and lowers the readability of the essay.
- The argument lacks authority . A law student tends to use legal jargon and sophisticated words to sound clever. Keep in mind that law essays should not only sound intelligent and well-researched but it also needs to be backed by law. A case, statute, or legal academic must be presented as evidence to solidify the argument.
- Presenting unnecessary cases . Some law students are excited to show off the extent of their knowledge and often make the mistake of incorporating every case that they think is connected to the topic at hand. Instead of helping improve the student’s grade, this acts like the student’s downfall because analysis and evaluation of which cases to present are critical.
- Improper format of the paper . As with all essays, the proper essay format is very important. Following the university requirements or the professor’s specific instructions is vital. Never use hard to read fonts and small font size. Times New Roman with the font size 12 is the preferred one to use. Capitalization, spelling, and citations should be double-checked.
Writing The Essay
With all the significant materials and data gathered, the law student is now ready to write the law essay. Remember that a law essay’s point is to answer the question with an argument, prove the argument using evidence, and defend it against criticism. It would be just like arguing a case in court only this time it is in written form.
As with any other essay, a law essay follows this outline : (1) introduction, (2) body, and (3) conclusion. There are some key distinctions here, however. Primarily, this is because the law essay is also an argumentative essay . As a law essay, too, it involves a specific set of criteria for its parts and for its evidence.
How an introduction to law essay is made follows the usual formula of a formal essay. Setting the right tone and going straight to the point makes all the difference. Giving a brief background on the topic and question is preferable. After that, the argument is immediately presented. Typically, the thesis statement or argument is only a sentence long, though it can be stretched to two sentences if needed.
The thesis statement is the main claim that the law student puts forward which attempts to answer the question at hand. This is a very delicate part of the essay writing process. The law student must make sure that his thesis statement directly answers the question. It needs to be clear to lessen the chance that the law student’s words be twisted in a counter-argument.
Following that is a brief discussion of what is to be discussed. Often, a roadmap to guide the reader through the entire paper is included so that the reader will know what to expect and not get lost especially if it is an intricate law essay. The discussion must contain what the argument itself is all about, why it is an issue in the first place, and why it must be resolved properly. In other words, it is a summary of the question to be answered.
The body contains the bulk of the law student’s argumentation. It attempts to build upon the main claim put forward by the law student in his thesis statement. Here, the argument is given in much detail. As mentioned earlier, law essays are essentially argumentative essays. As such, law students must not only discuss their own argumentation but also possible counter-arguments to their claims and their rebuttals to those counter-arguments.
The arguments of the law student attempt to give support to the main claim in the thesis statement. Each argument put forward must be distinct from one another and can also coexist with each other in supporting the main claim. An argument should always answer the question and not wander far from the thesis statement. In choosing evidence to present, one should only select those that best illustrate the argument.
In law essays, arguments should always be supported by evidence. This often comes in the form of references to existing laws and regulations. Another kind of evidence is through past cases that involved interpreting the referenced laws. These are called “precedents,” and if they made an enormous mark on legislation, these are “landmark cases.” These can be significant to the law student’s argumentation.
The law student can put as many arguments as he thinks is needed. However, some professors require a specific word count for the law essay. As a rule of thumb, the law student should forward about three of his own arguments. This is optimal as three arguments are quite plenty for a medium-length essay and can still be fleshed out equally and well amid the word count.
Counter-arguments attempt to attack the law student’s main claim and supporting arguments. Oftentimes, these are determined by the law student, as they are trained to anticipate such rebuttals during classroom recitation. On average, it is difficult for a law student to counter their own argumentation, because they tend to be biased towards their claims. With enough effort, it is possible.
For best results, however, the law student may form or join a study group to get more input on how to best defend his argument. The student will have to show them his argumentation and ask the members of the study group how they will argue against it. Teamwork is essential in studying law. After all, there is no reason for a student to want a classmate to fail if it can be helped.
As with the arguments, the rule of thumb is that the law student puts forward about three counter-arguments to allow for sufficient explanation while still staying within the word count.
The law student cannot simply state the counter-arguments without addressing them. A law student’s rebuttals further demonstrate his critical thinking and ability to argue. Again, a study group proves to be helpful in this task because they can point out loopholes that have been overlooked by the author.
A law student’s rebuttals must show either the weakness or fallacy behind the counter-arguments. The goal is to invalidate the counter-arguments and, thus, strengthen the main claim. As with the law student’s arguments, these must be grounded in evidence, either by referencing specific laws or referencing precedents.
There are as many rebuttals as there are counter-arguments. Still, the law student must observe conciseness in showing the rebuttals.
Like how it is done in a formal essay, the conclusion in a law essay attempts to summarize all the points which the law student forwarded. The arguments here are consolidated as the law student gives a final, definitive remark on how they strengthen his main claim. The law student also explains how his overall argumentation is sufficient to answer the underlying question. Note that no new arguments, ideas, or suggestions should be presented in a law essay’s conclusion.
As law students are expected to deliver output that has pinpoint accuracy in facts and research. It is vital for the finished law essay to be read through and through to make sure that it is written well. After the law essay has been written, take some time off and do something else before proofreading the paper. This will ensure that the law essay will be proofread with fresh eyes.
Proper grammar, vocabulary, and punctuation are all expected. When it comes to the technical aspect of writing the essay, what the law student must be cautious about is the structure of his essay. He must make sure that what belongs in the body, stays in the body. Any additional argument made in the conclusion must be transferred to the body, and so on.
The most pressing of all the law student’s concerns with his law essay is what must be inspected: the substance of the essay—the facts and underlying research of the essay. The importance of having a study group cannot be emphasized enough as the law student can also have the law essay be proofread by others to make sure that no errors and loopholes have been missed. Getting feedback from others is important because, in that way, the best quality can be achieved.
Editing the law essay after proofreading is also a must. A first draft is never the final draft when it comes to most essays, especially law essays. Words matter a lot in arguments. A lawyer can easily use their opponent’s words against them. Therefore, it is important to refine the wording that is used in the essay to prevent their words from being twisted.
It is of the essence that the pertinent information, such as legal principles and stipulations, mentioned by the law student is expressed properly in the essay. Accuracy is a vital component in a law student’s answer. It is something that a law student learns in the classroom with the professor’s use of the Socratic method—it is to be instilled in law essays.
A law student can accomplish fact-checking the law essay by simply reading each line of the essay and looking back at the referenced laws. If an inconsistency or a misinterpretation is found, it is to be corrected. As mentioned previously, however, the best results come if the law student would ask a classmate to read the essay and see if a part needs to be improved or corrected.
Regardless of the field of study, avoiding plagiarism is a vital endeavor that every student must undertake, even more so with law students. In fact, law students know much better when it comes to intellectual property rights. And with such knowledge, are expected to be more careful with their references.
Citations, where they are due, must be made and made properly. The required citation format must be followed to the letter. Though redundancy can befall the substance of an essay, it never does in citing sources. To summarize: when in doubt, cite.
As stated previously, knowing how to write a law essay is just as crucial to the law student as knowing how to argue orally. What will be developed further here is the law student’s attention to detail, consistency in writing, and pursuit of accuracy, no matter the medium. Furthermore, proofreading their own work will also improve their reading comprehension, which is vital in the profession. In other words, just as an aspiring lawyer must know how to speak, one must also learn how to write.
Essay Writing Service for Law Students
Law students are almost always concerned with learning how to speak well. This is because of the typical Socratic method that law professors use when conducting their classroom recitation. As a result, the law students’ ability to write may degrade over time, which may be fatal when a crucial law essay requirement is assigned.
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