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Practical Guide to Legal Writing and Legal Method, Seventh Edition

  • John C. Dernbach
  • Richard V. Singleton
  • Cathleen S. Wharton
  • Catherine J. Wasson
Series / Aspen Coursebook Series
Teaching Materials

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A Practical Guide to Legal Writing and Legal Method provides complete coverage and analysis with the clarity and precision that has made it a classic in the field. Discussion, examples, and practice exercises teach students how to apply the concepts of legal writing and legal method to a written analysis or oral argument. The text not only provides a complete foundation for classroom instruction, but also supports independent study and review. Graduates will want to keep this text within reach as they enter legal practice.

New to the Seventh Edition:

  • Restructured format to emphasize common themes
  • Consolidated and streamlined chapters that are even more accessible to both professor and students
  • Expanded appendix on email communications

Professors and student will benefit from:

  • Accessible introductions that outline and explain legal method
  • Examples of both effective and ineffective approaches to all of the topics covered
  • Focused exercises to develop and practice the skills addressed in each chapter
  • In-depth instruction on
    • reading and understandingboth statutes and caselaw
    • synthesizing cases and statutes
    • applying the law to specific facts
    • organizing and drafting a legal analysis
    • the principles of objective writing for memoranda, client communications, and judicial opinion writing
    • the principles of persuasive writing, including structuring an effective argument and writing for the court
    • drafting traditional and shorter “summary of the law” memoranda
    • drafting opinion letters
    • drafting both trial and appellate court briefs
  • Guidelines for using electronic communicationfor legal memoranda and correspondence—when it is appropriate, and strategies for effective communication in legal writing and practice
  • Integrated treatment of ethics and professional conduct
  • A sample case file in the appendices with memos in both traditional and email format, client letters, and trial and appellate court briefs  
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About the authors
John C. Dernbach
Widener University

John C. Dernbach#39;s research concentrates on environmental law, climate change, and sustainable development. He has served as director of the policy office at the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. The Policy Office is responsible for developing and coordinating policy and regulatory initiatives for DEP, including the integration of sustainable development concepts into DEP programs. Immediately following graduation from Michigan Law School, Professor Dernbach taught legal writing at Wayne State University (1978-79), served as a staff attorney to the American Lung Association of Michigan (1979-80), and coauthored a widely-used and influential legal writing text, A Practical Guide to Legal Writing and Legal Method (Aspen, 3rd edition 2007). Over the next dozen years, Professor Dernbach worked on the development and implementation of nationally recognized programs for regulating coal and noncoal mining, municipal solid waste, and residual or industrial solid waste for the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Resources. During this time he served as assistant counsel (1981-87), special assistant (1987-92), and Director of the Department#39;s Advanced Science and Research Team (1992-93). He is admitted to practice in Pennsylvania. Professor Dernbach has written widely on environmental law and sustainable development. He is the editor of Agenda for a Sustainable America (Environmental Law Institute Press, January 2009) and Stumbling Toward Sustainability (Environmental Law Institute Press 2002), comprehensive assessments of U.S. sustainable development activities that include recommendations for future efforts. The books each have more than 40 contributing authors from universities and law schools, nongovernmental organizations, the private sector, and state government. Professor Dernbach has written more than thirty articles for law reviews and peer-reviewed journals, and has authored, coauthored, or contributed chapters to eleven books. He has lectured to local, state, national, and international audiences on environmental law, climate change, and sustainable development. He received the President#39;s Award for Outstanding Achievement from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire Alumni Association in 2002. In 2008, he received the Douglas E. Ray Excellence in Faculty Scholarship Award, and was also named one of three distinguished law professors at Widener University. On April 22, 2010, he received an award for distinguished service to the profession from the Pennsylvania Bar Associationrsquo;s Environmental and Energy Law Section. Professor Dernbach is a council member for the ABA Section on Environment, Energy, and Resources. He is former chair and a current vice-chair of the ABA Committee on Climate Change, Sustainable Development, and Ecosystems, and Climate Change. He is also a member of the IUCN Commission on Environmental Law. From 2005 to 2008, he served on the Roundtable on Science and Technology for Sustainability of the National Academy of Sciences. He is former Senior Warden and co-chair of the environmental stewardship committee at St. Stephen#39;s Episcopal Cathedral in Harrisburg.

Richard V. Singleton
Blank Rome LLP

Richard Singleton concentrates his practices in the areas of commercial law, litigation, and arbitration with particular emphasis on the maritime industry. He has over 20 yearsrsquo; experience counseling clients, both domestic and international, in areas such as: maritime casualties such as collisions, groundings, fires, and sinkings, as well as damage to undersea electric cables and pipelines, tug and tow, charterparty and bill of lading issues and disputes, maritime environmental law, U.S. Coast Guard and other governmental maritime investigations, insurance and reinsurance, and general commercial disputes, including litigation and arbitration. Mr. Singleton is recognized as being among the leaders of attorneys worldwide in shipping and maritime law by Who#39;s Who Legal. He has received the highest possible rating from Martindale-Hubbell.

Cathleen S. Wharton
University of Georgia

Cathleen S. Wharton joined the University of Georgia School of Law#39;s Legal Research and Writing Program in 1983 and has served as its director since 1988. She has literally written the book on her subject, as she is the co-author of a leading textbook used by legal research and writing programs across the country, A Practical Guide to Legal Writing and Legal Method (4th ed., 2010, with John Dernbach, Richard Singleton, Joan Ruhtenberg and Catherine Wasson). She has also co-authored Citation Form for Briefs and Legal Memoranda (1997, with Daisy Floyd and Bertis Downs). In 1999, she was quoted extensively in an article in the Seattle University Law Review titled quot;Critiquing and Evaluating Law Students#39; Writing: Advice from Thirty-Five Experts.quot; Wharton develops teaching materials for the first-year legal writing program and teaches one section of the first-year legal writing course. She is also responsible for administrative duties, selection of texts, supervision of other writing teachers and coordination of computerized research training for first-year students. She has served as an adjunct faculty member for the Institute of Continuing Judicial Education (ICJE) since 1989, developing and leading numerous seminars on legal writing or legal research for Georgia#39;s judges and courtroom administrators. In 1993 she was honored with ICJE#39;s Award for Continuing Service to Judicial Excellence. She taught legal research and legal writing in the evening paralegal studies program at Athens Area Technical Institute from 1986 to 1990. Wharton also served as a consultant with the Athens law firm Cook, Noell, Tolley Aldridge from 1983 to 1990, assisting the managing partner in preparing civil cases for trial and appeal. Wharton is a member of the Association of Legal Writing Directors, the Legal Writing Institute and the American Association of Law Schools (AALS) Section on Legal Writing and Research. Wharton earned both her bachelor#39;s degree in journalism and her law degree from the University of Georgia.

Catherine J. Wasson
Elon University

Catherine Wasson comes to Elon University after working for the past decade at Widener University School of Law in Harrisburg, Pa., most recently as an associate professor and director of the Legal Methods Program. As director, Wasson overhauled and expanded a program covering skills such as legal reasoning, writing, research and advocacy. Her teaching expertise is in legal writing and analysis, oral advocacy, torts and family law. Prior to Widener, Wasson worked as a staff attorney for the Minnesota Workersrsquo; Compensation Court of Appeals, monitoring legislation and rules affecting workersrsquo; compensation law and practice. Wasson earned her law degree in 1988 from William Mitchell College of Law. She graduated from Kent State University with a bachelorrsquo;s degree in Englishtheater arts and a masterrsquo;s degree in speechtheater arts.

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