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Writing your Legal Theory Essay: Strategies for Success

Note: this post is largely based on materials prepared by Chantal Morton for her workshop ‘Advice for a Legal Theory Paper’ (20 September 2016).

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You’re eight weeks through second semester and the outline of your Legal Theory essay is due to be submitted to your lecturer. Worth 45% of your final mark, this essay is an important piece of assessment– and will require you to deploy skills not necessarily engaged in your first semester subjects.

Unlike Dispute Resolution or Torts, where you would have been expected to engage with cases, legislation, journal articles and law reform materials to respond to a specific prompt (i.e. ‘what are the pros and cons of online dispute resolution?’), Legal Theory asks you to engage with much broader normative and analytical issues – like the concept of law and its role in contemporary society. In doing so, you will be expected to draw on the work of a range of legal theorists from the core readings and beyond, and demonstrate a sophisticated understanding of complex concepts and arguments.

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