Learned Writing: Sense & Nonsense, 26-28 Oct 2016, Oriental Hotel, Victoria Island Lagos

Learned Writing 26-28 Oct 2016
Good writing is the most critical and yet the rarest skill in law.

Listen to Bryan Garner: “Writing is one of the two great skills that will advance your career in law. (The other is people skills.) If you can write well, you must necessarily do other things well: analyze cogently, organize logically, distill accurately, argue persuasively, cite knowledgeably, punctuate skillfully, and phrase smoothly.”

Boost your writing skills by taking part in our legal-writing workshops. Learned Writing: Sense & Nonsense is an intensive and interactive 3-day workshop, with exercises, group tasks, and expert guidance. Download course outline here.

Target Participants
• Advocates
• Court and Tribunal Clerks, Registrars, Deputy Registrars, and Officials
• Customs & Excise Lawyers
• Espionage Lawyers
• General Counsel and Heads of Legal Departments
• In-House Counsel
• Intelligence & Security Lawyers
• Legislative aides, drafters, and staff
• Judges and Justices
• Judicial Assistants and Clerks
• Judicial and Legal Correspondents, Editors, and Journalists
• Justice Ministry staff
• Law Officers and lawyers in ministries, departments, and agencies
• Law Reporters
• Law Students
• Law Teachers
• Legal personnel in banks, corporations, debt recovery agencies, and oil companies
• Legal personnel in intelligence, law enforcement, prosecutorial, security, and tax enforcement agencies
• Legal Practitioners
• Legislative Drafters
• Magistrates
• Military Lawyers
• Paralegals
• Prosecutors
• Solicitors
• State Counsel

Dates: Wed 26-Fri 28 Oct 2016
Time: 9am-5pm each day
Venue: Oriental Hotel, Victoria Island Lagos
Fee: N200,000

Please pay to The Write House, 0153954433, GTBank.

    If you pay by online transfer, enter your full name in the Reference or Remarks column of your bank’s online platform, or email transfer advice to info@writehouse.org.
    If you deposit cash or cheque, add your name to the deposit slip, and email it to info@writehouse.org.
    Once we confirm your payment, we shall register you and prepare your certificate in advance.
    If you’re unable to attend, you can defer or transfer your registration.

Senator 0806 735 1417
Kome 0806 092 6746
Ololade 0806 261 4730

The Write House
Email info@writehouse.org

What does legal scholarship have in common with patents?

Image credit: Farzadlaw.com

Image credit: Farzadlaw.com

To be patentable, an invention must be:

    1. novel,
    2. nonobvious (it must involve an inventive step), and
    3. useful (capable of industrial application).

To be publishable, a piece of academic legal writing must make a claim that is:

    1. novel,
    2. nonobvious, and
    3. useful.

The claim a piece of academic legal writing makes must also be sound.

The first requisite of sound legal scholarship is that it must make a claim. The attributes listed above (novelty, non-obviousness, utility, and soundness) belong to the claim. You should not write an article or book without a claim or with a claim that lacks any of these features. And you should not read any such article or book. We have enough good works out there. “Many good works of original scholarship have a basic thesis—a claim they are making about the world. This could be a descriptive claim about the world as it is or as it was (such as a historical assertion, a claim about a law’s effects, or a statement about how courts are interpreting a law). It could be a prescriptive claim about what should be done (such as how a law or a constitutional provision should be interpreted, what new statute should be enacted, or how a statute or a common-law rule should be changed). It could also be a combination of both a descriptive claim and a prescriptive one. In any case, you should be able to condense that claim into one sentence.” (Eugene Volokh, Academic Legal Writing: Law Review Articles, Student Notes, Seminar Papers, and Getting on Law Review, 4th edition, New York, Foundation Press, 2010, electronic version, 27 {italics in original})

Your one-sentence thesis statement (your claim) might look like one of the following:

    1. The Penal Code of Zamfara State is unconstitutional because it prescribes cruel and unusual punishment amounting to torture contrary to section 34(1)(a) of the Constitution of Nigeria.
    2. Properly interpreted, the combined effect of section 42(1) of the Nigerian Constitution (forbidding discrimination) and section 357 of the Criminal Code (criminalizing rape) is that a woman could be guilty of rape.

Forcing your claim into one not-too-long sentence capsulizes your thesis, helping to “focus your discussion” and “communicate your core point.” (Volokh) You should state your claim or thesis “in a forceful way. Or use a concrete example to illustrate the issue, and then state your claim.” (Joseph Kimble, ‘Tips for Better Writing in Law Reviews (and Other Journals)’, Thomas M Cooley Law Review, vol. 30, no. 2, 2013, 197.)

You should state your thesis upfront, in your introduction, much like a brief writer states the issues upfront. “Write a compelling introduction” that starts with your thesis and grabs the reader’s attention (see endnote below). Shun banalities, generalities, platitudes, and philosophical musings. “Avoid the sleep-inducing, but ubiquitous, front-end description of what you’re going to cover in each part. Your headings should provide the guidance that readers need.” (Kimble)

Joseph Kimble, ‘Tips for Better Writing in Law Reviews (and Other Journals)’, Thomas M Cooley Law Review, vol. 30, no. 2, 2013, 197.