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Controversial Issues in the Legal Writing Classroom: Risks and Rewards

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Document pages: 8 pages

Abstract: Using controversial issues as the basis for writing assignments in legal writing can be an effective way of energizing students to improve their writing because they care about the subject matter. Yet there are risks involved when introducing controversial issues into the legal writing classroom. This article offers suggestions on how to maximize the benefit and reduce the risk when using controversial issues for writing problems. It urges professors to reveal their position on controversial issues and argues for a “constrained vision” of professors’ power to impose their views on students. The article provides helpful guidance on how to pick a controversial issue, and then how to foster a range of opinions on the issue selected to improve the marketplace of ideas. The article’s thesis is that legal writing professors should use controversial issues not to advance an agenda but to evoke interest in order to improve student writing.

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