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Creating Legal Writing Problems That Work (And What to Do if They Don’t)
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  1. Creating Legal Writing Problems That Work (And What to Do if They Don’t) Professor Lisa A. Mazzie Marquette University Law School 2013 Rocky Mountain Legal Writing Conference, Boulder, CO March 23, 2013

  2. Getting Started • Determine the parameters of the problem • What kind of written product do you want? • Memo? Brief? Email? • What is the student’s role? • Do you assign sides or let students choose? • Student law firms? • Will there be research? • Open or closed research? • Jurisdiction?

  3. What sources/authorities should students end up with? • Case law only? Statutes and case law? Will you include or allow secondary sources? What kinds of secondary sources (e.g. social sciences, too)? • How many issues? • One issue or multiple issues? • Sub-issues? • Level of difficulty? • You can never make things too easy.

  4. Coming Up with an Idea • Areas of law with which you are familiar • Areas of law with which students are familiar • Areas of law traditionally in 1L curriculum • Contracts, Criminal Law, Torts, Civil Procedure, Property, Constitutional Law

  5. Coming Up with an Idea • News stories/blogs/YouTube • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z0yj5tZtmfk

  6. Coming Up with an Idea • Pop Culture • LWI Idea Bank • www.ideabank.rutgers.edu • If you’ve been teaching legal writing for fewer than two years, email Sabrina DeFabritiis, sdefabritiis@suffolk.edu for a password. • LWI Listserv • lrwprof-l@list.iupui.edu • Random electronic searches/ALRs • Things of interest

  7. Going from Idea to Reality • What do you give the students? • Assigning memo from partner? • Create a “record”? • Live “client” interviewing? • Experts?

  8. Going from Idea to Reality • Writing the facts • Choosing sides • Who is the client? How do you choose? • Including procedure • Sample written product

  9. Handling the Unexpected • Changes in the law • A problem that just doesn’t work • Student discomfort • Remember, this is YOUR world to create and manipulate!

  10. Recycle or Retire? • Recycle • Pros: • Nuances are apparent • Student response is positive • Cons: • Increases plagiarism concerns • Staleness • If you do recycle – • Consider how often to reuse • Update • Make changes

  11. Recycle or Retire? • Retire • Pros: • No worries about plagiarism • “Retired” problems can be used as samples or exercises • Cons: • You need to develop new problems

  12. Potential Ideas • Negligent or intentional infliction of emotional distress • Trespass • Personal injury (contact sports) • Attractive nuisance • False imprisonment • Drug possession • DUI • Assault/battery • Sexting • Paternity/family law • Non-compete agreements • Easements • Takings • Employment discrimination

  13. Other Thoughts/Ideas/Questions?

  14. Contact Lisa Mazzie Associate Professor of Legal Writing Marquette University Law School P.O. Box 1881 Milwaukee, WI 53201-1881 414.288.5367 lisa.mazzie@marquette.edu