A law essay is a brief text assigned on a law exam. Law essays typically require the student to read a brief set of facts from a legal case, determine the legal issues relevant to the case, and then assess how those legal issues may be interpreted. Because law essays are almost always assigned as part of an exam, they must be completed expeditiously in order to meet the time requirements of the exam. Therefore, a student must present a coherent and thorough report in the span of a relatively short time period. In this way, law essays are different from other types of academic writings a student may have to compose—particularly articles that are done outside of class—because they are not expected to be completely polished, flawless texts. The most important aspect of a law essay is content—not presentation. Therefore, learners should spend the majority of their time and effort thinking about and planning such reports rather than writing them.
The time allotment a student has in which to complete a law essay will vary. Regardless of this time allotment, however, a student can budget time for all aspects of the report by sticking to the following time rules: An eighth of the allotted time should be devoted to the careful reading and re-reading of the report prompt and facts; another eighth of the allotted time should be devoted to brainstorming about the possible responses to the report and constructing a rough outline; three eighths of the allotted time should be spent composing the report; and the final eighth of the allotted time should be spent proofreading. Thus, if a student were allotted an hour to complete one report, she should spend approximately seven or eight minutes carefully reading the prompt, another seven or eight minutes brainstorming and constructing an outline, about 35 minutes to write the assignment, and seven or eight minutes to proofread the document. Though students under time restraints are often eager to hastily begin, devoting time to the planning aspects of the report will result in a more accomplished text.
Due to time restrictions, law essays must get right to the point. This means that the introduction should briefly assert the facts of the case and the legal issues the case elicits and then proceed directly to explaining those legal issues and their possible interpretations. Every sentence should provide relevant information that contributes to the main point. Furthermore, the student should not get caught up on feeling that the article is not eloquently written. There is little time for eloquence in timed writing; content and analysis are far more important. If a student becomes stuck at any point, he should move on to his next item of discussion rather than spend time brooding on a single topic. After he has completed the rest of the report, he can come back and fill in the missing portion.
The final proofreading of a law essay must be quick. The goal of this proofreading is to make the report as readable and understandable as possible. Therefore, the student should focus on fixing errors rather than refining elements that could be better written.
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