Writer's Forum

Writer's Forum

Welcome to the Writer's Forum, a venue for showcasing ideas and reflections about lawyers and writing. The Writer's Forum is open to all members of the CUNY law school community—students, staff, administrators, faculty. Possible topics for Writer's Forum features include writing about the writer's process, lawyers' writing as strategic communication, lawyers as shapers of public rhetoric, and representations of lawyers in literature and popular culture.

If you would like to propose a topic for a Writer's Forum feature, please send us an e-mail .

The Power of Language

At CUNY School of Law, faculty and students recognize that the capacity of law to effect positive change is linked to the capacity of language to challenge assumptions, provoke thought, and offer new ways of thinking about social dilemmas. Those who write about law in the service of social justice need a language that is lively, evocative, and affecting. Yet many readers (and writers) of legal prose assume that legal writing occurs in only two registers: either dry and unimaginative or hopelessly convoluted. By showcasing writing about law that is infused with a literary sensibility, the Writer's Forum can help to dispel the idea that good legal writing and creative use of language are mutually exclusive endeavors.

Professional Communication and Writing That Supports It

Law students and other professionals-in-training are expected to become fluent in the genres, or written forms, by which practitioners in their field communicate information and professional analysis. For lawyers in training, professional genres include law office memoranda, client letters, briefs to a court, and pleadings. Although these writings are governed by professional conventions of language and form, they are generated in the context of a human interaction, and will have consequences for the legal clients whose life situations are the occasion for their creation. Thus, in addition to technical accuracy, these writings should reflect an accurate sensibility about a client’s circumstances—her concerns, goals, and expectations. To achieve that additional writing focus, a lawyer-in-training needs to step back from a professional communication task and reflect on the professional relationship that lay beneath it.

The faculty at the School of Law, in conjunction with the Writing Center, encourage students to consider the human dimensions of professional writing by offering opportunities to write in a variety of complementary contexts. These include reflective writing about the legal system and the delivery of legal services, and writing that transmutes legal knowledge or clinical experience into poetic or fictional forms. We describe below some of these projects, and provide links to student work.

If you would like to comment, please post your message to the Writer's Forum listserv:

In order to subscribe to the listserv, send a blank email to writingcenter-subscribe@mail.law.cuny.edu

Once you have subscribed, email your comments to writingcenter@mail.law.cuny.edu

To unsubscribe from the list, send a blank email to writingcenter-unsubscribe@mail.law.cuny.edu