I’m delighted to report that The Second Draft (published by the Legal Writing Institute) has accepted an article I wrote with Professor Christopher Soper from the University of Minnesota Law School for publication in its spring 2016 issue! Titled “The Structured Writing Group: A Different Writing Center?,” the article describes the objectives, development, and some preliminary results of a program I led at the U of M Law School in AY 2014-15. We wanted the “Structured Writing Group” (SWG) project to achieve some outcomes traditionally associated with writing centers: first, improving the student writing process by facilitating collaboration with a writing expert; and second, exposing students to additional audiences for their writing. We added a third goal of improving the experience and performance of multilingual students in the legal writing program.
Chris is Professor of Legal Writing and Assistant Director of Applied Legal Instruction at the U of M Law School. We worked together on the SWG project last year, with outstanding help from Minnesota’s Director of Applied Legal Instruction, Professor Brad Clary, and the other faculty under my supervision: Adjunct Professor Elizabeth Sobotka and second-year law student Anastasia Kazmina.
The SWG was part writing center, part non-credit course. We met as a class about every other week to work through common problems first-year students have with legal writing and to make sure everyone understood the assignments in their regular legal writing sections. All legal writing sections at Minnesota use the same syllabus and have the same assignments and schedule. On the other weeks, usually ones when students’ writing assignments were due, we had extensive appointment slots available for students to come in and talk over individual concerns one-on-one.
Chris is continuing the program this year under Elizabeth’s leadership. She has extensive experience as a teacher of legal writing and is also fluent in Mandarin–a language spoken by many of the SWG’s multilingual clients last year. (She also happens to be a former law-firm partner of mine!)
I’m very excited we will be able to share the details of this innovative program!