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The Handbook for the New Legal Writer, Third Edition

  • Jill Barton
  • Rachel H. Smith
Series / Aspen Coursebook Series
Teaching Materials
Table of contents

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The Handbook for the New Legal Writer, Third Edition, is the practical guide to the foundational skills that law students need. With concise and easy-to-follow instructions, a variety of annotated examples, and the clarifying concept of “anchors,” the Handbook is a student-centered text that engages and accompanies students throughout the first-year legal writing course, and beyond.

The Handbook for the New Legal Writer focuses on showing (not telling) students how to write effective legal documents using step-by-step instructions and annotated examples. The Handbook uses the term “anchors” throughout to help students deepen their understanding and analysis of legal questions. In an easy-to-read style, the Handbook guides students through the entire first-year legal research, writing, and analysis curriculum. The Handbook covers predictive and persuasive writing in the form of memos, motions, and appellate briefs; as well as professional correspondence in the form of emails, letters, and instant messages; exam writing; judicial writing; oral argument; legal research and citation; and grammar, punctuation, and style. For each topic, the Handbook provides examples (written by the authors or by judges and practicing attorneys), along with detailed explanations that demonstrate how to write with care and clarity. The Handbook is a resource that will guide students throughout law school and into their legal careers.

New to the Third Edition

  • New sidebars throughout the text that address issues of mindfulness, wellness, equity, and inclusion that are important to students
  • More samples of legal documents, prepared by the authors
  • More examples of excellent legal writing by judges and attorneys

Professors and students will benefit from:

  • Comprehensive coverage of all first-year legal writing topics: predictive and persuasive writing, grammar and writing style, professional correspondence, exam writing, judicial writing, oral argument, research, and citation
  • Concise and readable text
  • The authors’ original “anchors” concept that helps students recognize salient facts or points of law in case reading and analysis
  • Short and longer annotated examples (written by judges, practitioners, and the authors) illustrate effective legal writing in various formats, including objective memos, correspondence, persuasive memos, motions, appellate briefs, and more
  • Checklists at the end of each chapter for study and review
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About the authors
Jill Barton
Professor of Legal Writing and Lecturer in Law
University of Miami

Professor Barton is a former appellate judicial clerk and an award-winning journalist. She earned her bachelor of journalism magna cum laude from the University of Missouri and also studied at Oxford University#39;s Keble College, where she founded and co-edited Ox-Tales, a compilation of students#39; short stories. Professor Barton worked as a journalist for more than a decade, mostly for the Associated Press (AP) and other news organizations in Florida. As an AP correspondent, she regularly published news stories in The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Miami Herald. She later received her M.S. in journalism from the University of Kansas, where she taught advanced reporting, and her J.D. summa cum laude from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. In law school, Professor Barton received the West Publishing Award for Outstanding Scholarly Accomplishment and won the National Association of Women Lawyers student writing competition. She also served as managing editor of the UMKC Law Review and as a teaching assistant for the school#39;s legal writing program. Prior to joining the Miami Law faculty, Professor Barton clerked for Judge Leslie B. Rothenberg at Florida#39;s Third District Court of Appeal. Professor Barton is also the author of A Show Don#39;t Tell Lesson on Plan Language, 70 Clarity (2013).

Rachel H. Smith
Professor of Legal Writing and Lecturer in Law
University of Miami

Professor Smith completed her B.A. with honors at UC Santa Cruz and earned her J.D. at the UC Berkeley School of Law (Boalt Hall) in 2002. During law school, she was awarded a NAPILVISTA Summer Fellowship to work at the Legal Aid Society of Columbus, Ohio and interned at Equal Rights Advocates in San Francisco, California. After graduation, Professor Smith worked at Quinn Emanuel Urquhart Sullivan, LLP where she litigated a variety of complex cases in state and federal courts, primarily focusing on intellectual property disputes. In 2007, Professor Smith joined the Legal Analysis, Research, and Writing Faculty at Santa Clara University School of Law and was awarded the Legal Research and Writing Professor of the Year Award in 2008 and 2010. In 2009, she won an ALWD Teaching Grant for a legal writing podcast series entitled quot;Perk Up Your Pens.quot; She is the author of The Legal Writing Survival Guide (Carolina Academic Press 2012), which is a book that aims to help law students and lawyers solve common legal writing problems. Professor Smith has presented at national and regional legal writing conferences on issues relating to the use of technology to teach legal writing, the value of collaborating with other professors, and the need to inspire hope and positivity in the legal writing classroom. At Miami Law she teaches in the Legal Communications and Research Skills program.

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Third Edition
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Legal Writing
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