After going through thousands of pages of homework and hundreds of pages of written homework, often at the last minute – perhaps a little too often – students and graduates may think they are on top of their game.

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Law school, however, takes reading and writing to a whole new level. Compared to undergraduate texts, the legal code and court opinions may appear to be written in a foreign language. And many law students find legal writing the most difficult foundational course they need to take in their first year.

There is no doubt that college makes you a better reader and writer, but the quirks of undergraduate writing can also leave you with bad habits. To prepare for law school, improve your written communication skills by following these tips:

  • Take better notes.
  • Write succinctly.
  • Clarify your assumptions.
  • Don’t flaunt yourself.

Take better notes

The authors of the articles and textbooks you read in college often take great care to communicate difficult concepts in a clear and concise manner. To prepare for class discussions and writing assignments, it is often sufficient to underline key points and take a few notes or a brief summary.

Law school, however, is based on the case method. You learn by reading important legal matters and deriving common principles on how to interpret and apply real laws.

If you think your brain can remember all of this information based on certain highlighted passages, you might find yourself at a loss for words the first time a law professor asks you to analyze and critique the text. opinion of a judge.

Instead, law students “brim” each case by writing down key facts and legal conclusions and compiling long, carefully curated plans that incorporate all of those cases.

Before law school, you can get a head start on the briefing by developing more consistent and rigorous note-taking methods. Try to use color coded highlights for different types of information. Try to read an article, summarizing the point as briefly as possible, and then offering counterpoints.

Write succinctly

College often rewards long writing. Written assignments are more likely to have a minimum length than a page limit, and it rarely hurts to add additional quotes and evidence to support your arguments. You may even get the impression that long sentences seem heavier and more mature.

Legal drafting, however, is more structured and focused. Although legal documents can be quite long, each sentence should contribute to the overall argument. Law professors have little patience for puffy and curvy paragraphs.

Even if undergraduate professors don’t explicitly require it, practice editing your articles to be direct and concise. Cut out redundancies and sentences that are not clearly related to your main points.

Clarify your assumptions

Because college is meant to cultivate independent thinking, students are often encouraged to share their thoughts and reactions from their unique perspective.

In contrast, legal drafting should be universal, as the law is supposed to cover everyone equally. In order to develop your arguments, you need to carefully make sure that everyone can understand your reasoning from the evidence you present.

Even in college, you can start to think about the unexpressed assumptions behind your arguments. Some of these assumptions may not be worth emphasizing, such as the meaning of common terms or agreed facts.

Are there any assumptions that might not be so obvious to someone with a different background or perspective? If so, try to state those assumptions clearly, so that all readers can understand how you came to your conclusions, whether or not they agree with you.

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College students have a reputation for being pretentious. The word “sophomoric” is even used to describe immature, conceited and overconfident handwriting. No one can look back on their teenage years without curling up on some of the things they have said or written.

Because law school is a professional school, students are held to higher standards. If you start to bloat, refer to ideas you don’t understand, or use swear words just to sound smart, your law professors and fellow students will cut you down.

Although college is a great time to take intellectual risks, always be aware of the limits of your knowledge. Avid readers and writers focus more on what they still don’t know than on what they claim to understand.

Reading and writing are lifelong practices. Not only will the practice help you be successful in law school, it will make you a clearer thinker.