Writing involves many skills
No legal teacher should start teaching law without have read John C. Bean’s classic: Engaging ideas on integrating writing and critical thinking. In this practical guide he argues how critical thinking skills are sharpened through cycles of writing and rewriting multiple drafts, considering and organizing arguments and counter arguments, dumping unnecessary words etc. And many of us remember how legal student journals and publications in our alma mater enabled us honing our writing skills. Famous ones emerged like from Harvard Law School or from Yale. So writing is an effective way of creating legal expertise.
New effective form of learning by writing
Now there is a new kid on the legal learning block: the legal blog. An innovation in legal education that at the same time contributes to the legal community. Five years ago the University of Pennsylvania law school (Penn Law) initiatedRegblog: a series of essays featured on a specially designed website that befitted the magazine-style publication. Since it successful start it has expanded its reach continuing to create legal expertise for students.
Regblog now offers seminars, hosts guest speakers, and on every weekday publishes informative work by leading scholars and practitioners, as well as students. It also provides the public with reliable, authoritative information on regulatory actions that can have a profound impact on people’s lives. As such it is a true contribution to the legal society. But what’s more: a fantastic learning opportunity for legal students.
But how does it work?
Being responsible for the blogs facilitates a wide breadth of learning opportunities.
Students can pursue their own interests in depth, they learn how to write effectively, they gain teamwork experience and most importantly, they enjoy it because it is fun working in this demanding learning environment. Regblog gives students the opportunity to contribute meaningfully to public knowledge and discourse while still in law school. They can experience each day how high ranking professionals consult their blog every day. It not only helps during any job interview; it simply is an excellent preparation for one’s legal career.
How do students learn?
By writing students learn through discussion, contemplation, working with peers towards a joint product, integrating theory and practice, writing and editing texts, dealing with issues of grammar and correctness and evaluating contributions. Constantly they search for relevant sources, transform theory into practice. And they work closely together with the law professor. During their work with these experts they receive personal feedback. This is another feature that strongly facilitates learning.
Kim Kirschenbaum, RegBlog’s new editor in chief on what in the Regblog work hones legal skills: “Strong writing skills, an ability to break complex concepts down into simple and succinct terms, a keen eye for detail, an obsession with precision and accuracy, and the ability to stay composed in a race against the clock are critical”.
Hooray and congratulations Regblog! May other law schools follow.