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A Law Professor’s Detailed, Thoughtful, and Comprehensive ‘Local Rules’ for Class: A Response to “Above the Law,” Legal Writing Prof Blog (guest post from Louisa Heiny, Adjunct Professor of Law at the S.J. Quinney College of Law of the University of Utah, responding to recent post at Above The Law Blog)


I used to teach Legal Writing and Legal Analysis to paralegals. Students had to work hard to earn a good grade in those classes. Some students appreciated the emphasis on grammar and punctuation, adhering strictly to court rules and the Bluebook, the eradication of legalese, and the insistence that details matter. Regrettably, not every student felt the same way, and missed the point. There was a reason why the bar was set high for my students. I wanted them to succeed once they were on the job.

If I learned anything from teaching, it was that the majority of students, when challenged, will work hard to meet high standards and expectations set for the class. If a teacher’s expectation are low, the work turned in will be mediocre at best. Both law and paralegal students face tough competition upon graduation. Quality matters more than ever.

It is nice to see that there are still legal writing faculty who set insist on quality. -CCE

I admit it: I read Above the Law. I read it every day. It’s even on my Facebook feed. It’s sometimes snarky, often witty, and has published some of the most ridiculously funny cease and desist letters I’ve ever seen. I use material from Above the Law in class to show students what not to do.

I’ll also admit that when I read the headline in Above the Law, ‘A Law Professor’s Detailed, Ridiculous, Condescending ‘Local Rules’ For Class,’ I panicked. There was a serious possibility that I was about to read my own syllabus. I’m an adjunct, so there was also a possibility that I was about to be fired.

After a moment’s relief that I was not the target of ATL’s ire, I read the article. Written by Joe Patrice, the post skewers the ‘local rules’ created by Santa Clara Law Professor Ray Bernstein for his legal writing class. While my own syllabus isn’t as detailed, Professor Bernstein has created a detailed, thoughtful, and comprehensive set of local rules designed to put students on notice of class requirements, as well as prepare them for the practice of law. . . .