Category Archives: Legal Writing

Preparing for the Dispute Resolution Exam

Hypothetical Notes
Accessibility should be your guiding principle whenever you’re making exam notes. Thankfully when it comes to Dispute Resolution, the chronology of a dispute also conveniently doubles as a potential top-level structure for your hypothetical notes. Instead of an old fashioned table of contents ripped straight out of your Reading Guide, consider dividing your notes into each step of the dispute resolution process. Within each step you can pull together all the relevant issues and considerations for that step, in addition to extracted legislation, rules, and case notes. Continue reading

Self Assessment – Evaluate Your Research Essay Before Submission

The LASC has developed a rubric (a document that articulates the expectations for an assignment by listing the criteria, or what counts, and describing levels of quality from excellent to poor) for legal research papers that may help you to assess your own writing before you submit.

This rubric was not developed specifically for the dispute resolution paper, but does provide guidance on the criteria for a research essay.

You can download the rubric here: Research Essay Rubric

This document should be used in conjunction with the Legal Writing Checklist, and any criteria that appears on your assessment task. Continue reading

Research Plan Checklist

Your first research assessment – whether its an essay, a memorandum or some other task –  can be hard. Not only are you trying conform to new writing conventions unique to law, but you’re also expected to use and navigate legal databases that you may not be familiar with.

Thankfully however, you don’t need to tackle this task completely by yourself. The MLS library not only runs numerous research workshops, but they have also developed a nifty checklist to help guide you through the different steps of planning, writing, editing and ultimately submitting your first paper. Continue reading

Avoiding Procrastination

Everyone is capable of working like a fiend when the need arises. Unfortunately, most people only manage to unleash the hulking study-beast the night before an essay is due. For weeks, even months before the assessment is due, people are often held back by procrastination. You may even be procrastinating right now. There is no silver bullet for procrastination. At a certain point, it just comes down to really wanting to improve. Nevertheless, there are a few strategies that can help you to keep it at bay.

Long-Term Procrastination Strategies

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Advanced editing

Editing your paper will help you to ensure the clarity of your argument. Chapter 10 of the Guide to Academic Success, “Advanced Editing”, has advice on editing that is relevant to a range of legal documents.The following materials are adapted from the LAWresources website, the Legal Academic Skills Centre website and the Guide to Academic Success.

Revising Drafts

It can be difficult to objectively assess your own work. Nevertheless, it is important to review your drafts multiple times to ensure that your argument is clear and concise. Before making significant changes to your essay, it is a good idea to save it into a new document – this way you won’t lose anything important. Continue reading

Research Essays – The Writing Process

The following materials are adapted from the Guide to Academic Success.

Your reader expects you to explain, clearly and succinctly, the current law and legal issues relevant to your topic. This work is called ‘exposition’. However, as a member of the legal community, your reader has access to the same sources that you do, and may already be familiar with many. So, while thorough research is essential, and while you must develop and demonstrate an accurate understanding of the current law relevant to the particular topic, a research essay requires more than a summary of the relevant legislation and judgments. Continue reading

Assignment Timelines

The following materials are adapted from the Legal Academic Writing website.

All good legal academic writing shares common attributes: it is clear and concise, well organized, logical and persuasive, purposeful and relevant, and supported by accurate and current legal authorities.

However, the process of writing, and markers’ expectations regarding presentation, vary significantly, depending on whether you have several weeks to prepare an assignment, or a few days or hours to answer an exam.


How long do you expect to spend preparing a 2,000 word hypothetical problem response? Or a 5,000 word research essay? Continue reading