Guidelines - Your aim here is to fill in the outline provided by your plan, bearing in mind what is said below about each part of your essay or assignment. Remember that writing is evolutionary – get your ideas, thoughts and understanding onto paper under the general headings of your plan. Using your outline as a guide, start writing. Do not postpone this until everything you want to say is clear in your mind, otherwise you run the risk of contracting ‘writer’s block’. You can refine your writing later.
Aim to express your ideas as clearly and simply as possible. Use plain language and simple sentence structures. Good legal writing is concise and to the point. Long, rambling sentences are confusing and usually obscure the arguments contained in them.
Order your information and arguments logically. Do this in every sentence, paragraph, chapter, whole essay or assignment. Everything must fit together coherently so that it is clear to the reader what you think and why you think so.
Substantiate every assertion and argument you make. When you claim that a particular fact exists (eg that a particular legal rule or principle exists) you must provide evidence of its existence (eg by citing a case or statute that created that rule or principle); when you put forward an argument, you must show why your argument should be accepted (eg by showing that it is more logical or has better consequences than its rival). Remember that legal writing is not poetry; it is meant to convince the reader of your point of view, not merely express what you feel or think. Therefore, unsubstantiated assertions and arguments are worthless in legal writing.
• Leave space for additions and corrections.
• Comply with style and presentation requirements.
• Ensure that all statements you make and all the arguments you advance are clearly expressed and supported by correctly cited authorities. • At the end of the first draft, you should start to draw tentative conclusions. If you have difficulty doing so, this may indicate a need for further research. • Your essay or assignment must have a structure that consists of the following elements:
Generally, a doctrinal-type assignment should have three main parts: an introduction, a body and a conclusion.
The introduction should identify the main topic to be discussed and indicate how the argument will progress. It should prepare the reader for the body of the essay. In an academic essay, the writer defines a problem or states a thesis and indicates how it will be treated in the essay. Exactly what is included in an introduction will vary according to the writer’s purpose and the topic. Common weaknesses of introductions include:
• The introduction is vague and unconnected to the topic or to the following paragraphs, giving no indication of what the reader is to expect in the body of the essay. • The introduction is banal (ie commonplace, trivial or flat) and states the obvious. • The introduction fails to state a thesis.
Since the introduction is meant to introduce the argument of the writer, it is difficult to finalise before writing the essay. The introduction, therefore, should almost always be rewritten as part of the final revision of the essay.
Body of the Assignment
The body should contain the arguments you put forward in support of your answer to the question posed in the topic. It should be set out in a series of linked paragraphs. Each paragraph should deal with a single concept or idea and should follow logically from the preceding paragraph. Use information in a structured way to support your arguments, rather than haphazardly writing down information from a variety of sources, which is what will...