On week two, we were given an opportunity to take a writing workshop with Larry McEnerney from the University of Chicago. The workshop focused on the distinctions between writing as a law student and writing as an attorney. Being a Summer Associate at a large firm naturally requires doing a great deal of writing, and I appreciate that Q&B gives me the tools I need to be successful on a day-to-day basis.
Walking into a three-hour writing workshop on a Friday morning is an undeniably daunting activity. However, Larry McEnerney's energy and teaching style were electric, and we all left motivated to employ the techniques that he espoused. He disavowed us of the many of the bad habits taught in everyday composition courses, and gave us particular tips to succeed in legal writing. If only Larry McEnerney helmed every law school's legal writing program.
The Legal Writing Workshop was a unique learning experience, and I am grateful to have been a part of it. It provided great insight into the type of legal writer we, as future attorneys, need to become in order to provide the work product expected by clients, partners, and more senior attorneys. I have already begun implementing those lessons into my legal writing and I look forward to improving on these skills as my time in the legal profession goes on.
I thought the Writing Workshop was fantastic. It really emphasized how there can be tension between how writers write and how readers read, and provided useful tips on how to reconcile this tension. Also, we received great advice on how to revise and edit our writing, and learned common traps writers fall into that make their work harder to read.
Professor McEnerney challenged us to revise our legal writing with our reader in mind, whether that be a client, the court, or an assigning attorney. His instruction went beyond grammar, syntax and organization, and focused on how to create clear, concise legal writing targeted at a specific reader. He explained that as we create writing product, we are thinking and researching as we are writing. The reader does not have the benefit of our thought process, which means that the reader might not be reading the piece in the same way and could become confused. The most important takeaway was understanding that revising is not simply editing or cite checking--it is analyzing your piece as a whole for clarity, organization, and persuasiveness.
The Legal Writing Workshop was extremely beneficial. While law school taught me how to think like a lawyer and write objectively, the workshop demonstrated how to write persuasively. I really enjoyed learning how to cater my writing to specific audiences and the hands-on exercises helped identify my bad habits. The workshop was invaluable, and I am so thankful to have obtained practical skills that I can use for the rest of my legal career.
Professor McEnerney offered a unique and practical perspective on legal writing. Among the many lessons he taught in our half-day session was the importance of writing to our audience. Further, our writing needs to be (1) valuable, (2) persuasive, (3) organized, and (4) clear—four tenets I remind myself of daily when writing memos.
The Q&B Writing Workshop far exceeded my expectations. It challenged me to look at my own writing in ways that I've never thought about and took a deep dive into details that take legal writing from decent to excellent. Throughout my first few projects, I've found myself looking back at my notes from the workshop and integrating what we talked about into my own writing.
The writing workshop provided by Quarles & Brady was both informative and engaging. The professor was direct and clear in his instruction, and provided us with helpful practice tips. The exercises prepared me for writing on the job and helped me feel confident in my abilities when I received my first writing assignment.