Karen J. Sneddon
The year 2018 marks the thirtieth anniversary of the Board of Directors of the Legal Writing Institute’s decision to invest in a peer-edited journal. The Journal is, as the Board envisioned, one of the “various ways to support legal writing and those who teach it.”1 From its formation to today, the Legal Writing Institute is “dedicated to improving legal communication by supporting the development of teaching and scholarly resources and establishing forums to discuss the study, teaching, and practice of professional legal writing.”2
The decision to create, fund, and support a peer-edited journal has nurtured and promoted the legal writing discipline. A peer-edited journal is more than a repository of articles, essays, and reviews. A peer-edited journal supports the discipline by providing publishing and editing opportunities. A peer-edited journal hosts conversations among authors, editors, and readers. Those conversations occur within the pages—or screens—of the peer-edited journal, but they also spill into in-person conversations, conference presentations, other publications, and other journals. The Journal has thus played an important role in discipline building. This twenty-second volume of the Legal Writing Journal celebrates the decision thirty years ago by the LWI Board of Directors to advance the discipline of legal writing with a peer-edited journal.
The first volume of the Journal was published in fall 1991. The first volume included an editor’s forward, four articles, and a bibliography. The bibliography began with the following sentence: “If the quantity of publications produced in a field is directly representative of the professional interest it has attracted, then there must be strong and growing interest in legal writing.”3 The quantity of publications today evidences the continuing interest in legal writing scholarship. The works published in this twenty-second volume of the Journal represents the past, the present, and the future of legal writing scholarship.
This volume begins with reflections. The first series of essays feature observations, comments, and reminiscences from past Editors in Chief. These essays share the motivations, the burdens, and the joys of creating, building, and maintaining a relevant peer-edited journal. The second series of essays feature responses to a series of questions presented in Volume 1 of the Editor’s Foreword. Past and current members of the Editorial Board both respond to these questions about teaching, reading, and writing about legal writing and pose additional questions about the future of the discipline.
Following the essays are four articles that exemplify the range and depth of legal writing scholarship. Shaun B. Spencer and Adam Feldman use the written work of lawyers to measure the statistical relationship between the readability of the written work and the outcome of cases in “The Empirical Relationship between Brief Quality and Summary Judgment Success in State and Federal Courts.” Barbara A. Kalinowski proposes using logic to promote critical thinking in “Logic Ab Initio: A Functional Approach to Improve Law Students’ Critical Thinking.” Joe Fore considers the connection between the assignments in the contemporary legal writing classroom and the realities of contemporary law practice in “The [Comparative?] Benefits of Standalone Email Assignments in the First-Year Legal Writing Curriculum.” Joan Rocklin reminds us that scholarship about legal writing is by no means limited to legal writing professors in “Exam-Writing Instruction in a Classroom Near You: Why It Should Be Done and How to Do It.”
Finally, this volume returns to the Journal’s history of publishing book reviews. The book review examines Linda L. Berger and Kathryn M. Stanchi’s Legal Persuasion: A Rhetorical Approach to the Science. As the reviewers Lori D. Johnson and Sarah Morath observe, this “book is an ambitious blend of persuasion theory and cognitive science” that they believe “will be a helpful addition to the shelves of both practitioners and professors of legal persuasion as well as students and judges.” This observation could refer to all of the work published in Volume 22. Indeed, this observation could refer to the dozens of essays, articles, and reviews that have been published in the Journal throughout the years.
This volume is the result of the efforts of many. In particular, I want to thank the authors; the Assistant Editors; the members of the Editorial Board; the Managing Editors Ted Becker, Anna Hemingway, and Elizabeth Inglehart; the Assistant Editor in Chief for Social Media Kimberly Holst; and the Assistant Editor in Chief Lindsey Gustafson. I also want to thank Chris Caswell of Apex Productions who ensures that the Journal is mobile-friendly, visually appealing, and accessible to readers and researchers alike. And, of course, many thanks are extended to the leadership and the members of the Legal Writing Institute. This is your Journal.
1 A Note from the Chair, The Second Draft 1-2 (Apr. 1991) (reminding readers of the upcoming publication of the “first volume of its journal”).
2 https://www.lwionline.org/about (last visited Feb. 28, 2018).
3 George D. Gopen & Kary D. Smout, Legal Writing: A Bibliography, 1 Leg. Writing 93, 93 (1991).