Thoughts about making a guest visit to WRIT3001

Tom Wright, a PhD candidate in my department, has asked me to come and speak to his students in “WRIT¬†3001¬†Introduction to Scientific and Technical Communication” on November 29 about technical communication in the law. I had originally suggested to Tom that we have the students read an interesting article about the denial of rhetoric in legal discourse for which I’m hoping soon to post an annotation (Wetlaufer 1990). After talking to Tom today, though, I think I want to take a different tack (and I think he’d prefer that, too).

What we discussed today is that I would provide a one-page handout (PDF) with some comments/reading questions and links to three or four shorter resources focusing on some of the following topics:

  1. How written work in the law is really the work product (not just a documentation or description of the work product). This differs in some ways from writing in business and, for example, in engineering.
  2. Writers in the law who are not lawyers.
  3. Paralegals and their roles.
  4. Visual rhetoric in the law, particularly in the context of the design of exhibits for the court.
  5. Audience analysis in the law. (Risks associated with not considering secondary and tertiary audiences.)

I’m thinking that the links/documents that I’ll provide might include the following:

  1. DOJ torture memo(s) from the Bush administration or excerpts.
  2. A short legal brief or motion.
  3. Short articles re: paralegals, court exhibits and displays, etc.

I might also provide some optional link(s) re: genre.



Wetlaufer, G. B. (1990). Rhetoric and its denial in legal discourse. Virginia Law Review, 76, 1545-1597.

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