As with all things, there is an easy way and a hard way to go about doing a chore. It is the same with writing a law essay. If you follow the advice of this article, it will aid you to achieve your goal in a simple and effective way. All the steps have been tried and tested in the past. The article will cover:
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The very first step is actually seeing the list of questions that you have to choose an essay from. This may sound strange but if you prepare yourself for this first step, it will help to make the whole exercise easier.
Once you have got your law essay question list and you have chosen your subject you should not procrastinate. The reptile part of our brain, the amygdala, draws us towards pleasure and directs us to avoid pain at all costs. Unfortunately, millions of years ago, before we were the human beings that we are today, we did not need to write essays.
When you know that you have an essay to write but the magnetic draw to the union bar is stronger than the essay writing, you should reach a compromise with yourself. Make yourself read and take notes for a couple of hours and then seek your pleasure. Whatever you do, don’t it the other way around. It doesn’t matter how intelligent you are, reading articles about expert witnesses’ statements being admissible to the jury will not make sense after a couple of pints of strong cider or whatever your chosen poison is.
Although it may seem like a waste of time, constant note taking while background reading is one of the best time savers you can practise. If you have the full details to hand of every source you cite and every case you mention in your evidence, you will find that when you actually write your law essay, the process will be a smooth and painless one. It is frustrating to have to break off from your writing to search through a pile of journals for the name of an expert witness that you wish to verbally decimate.
Make a detailed note of every title you read or skim over. You may think that it is pointless to keep a record of a title that you are not going to use, however, it is important to have the author and the title to hand. The reason for this is twofold. First of all, a large amount of time can be wasted looking over papers that you have previously read and discarded. If the journal is on your list, you won’t look at it twice. Furthermore, you will need to put all the titles, authors and publishers of works that you have read in your bibliography at the end of your law essay.
Writers divide themselves into two groups – Type A that writes without any planning as they explore where the writing takes them. Alternatively, Type B has the whole story worked out before they start writing. In other words, they make a plan. Type A might work when writing fiction but you should never attempt it when writing an essay. You should always plan, therefore, the question here is whether you should apply a close planning method or a loose planning method before you start to write your law essay.
Using the loose planning model means that your plan consists of a list of points and little else. The advantages of this are that it is a quick way to plan and if you have an essay tick list, you can quickly tick off ‘plan’ and instantly feel as if you are moving forward with your law essay. It also means that if you decide to change your argument, you will not have spent as much time working on your plan so you will not have wasted time.
The disadvantages of using a loose plan model is that when you come to write your essay, you will take much longer writing it because you have not worked out all the points and details that you want to use in your argument.
Using a close plan model is disadvantageous in that it takes a lot of work to think out all the headings and sub headings of your argument so that they flow logically. If you have a deadline looming, you may worry that you haven’t even begun to write your paper and simply ditch the idea of working out your plan in such close detail.
However, the advantages of putting so much work into a close plan are that when you actually write your law essay, it can flow along easily because you have already done all the hard work. Another advantage is that because you have worked at the details so closely, you will find that you probably will not have any holes in your argument, whereas you might with a loose plan.
Let’s imagine that you have followed the close planning model and you are answering a question on the aforementioned suggestion “Should expert witnesses’ evidence be admissible to a jury?”
Your introduction should briefly describe what a jury does and also what an expert witness is and how they are used. Do not think that you won’t bother with describing what a jury does because everyone knows. If you leave it out, you risk getting ‘never assume knowledge’ scrawled in the margins of your law essay. After that, you should describe the points that you are going to highlight in the order that you will make them. Try to make the introduction as clear as possible. If your professor can easily understand where your argument is going without having to read it two or three times, she or he will relax into it.
If you try to enjoy conducting your argument during the main body of your law essay, you will find it much easier to write. It is imperative that you take each point one at a time and don’t go off on a tangent or, for instance, get points one and three interwoven.
Example - if you are using the murder of Frances Levin in December 1933 as a source, you might choose to cite how when the case was re-examined in 2017 an expert witness was used. The expert witness psychoanalysed William Burtoft’s (the accused) confession letter. In point one, you may wish to argue that the psychoanalysis of the accused’s letter is not fact as psychoanalysis is not considered scientific. You may, therefore, wish to state that the witnesses’ point of view should not be made admissible to the jury as they might accept it as fact.
Point three might be that when you analysed the text of the conversation between the prosecuting barrister and the expert witness that the witness appeared to bend to the views of the prosecuting barrister and therefore her evidence should again be inadmissible to the jury. The reason for this being that the jury, being made up of lay people, might not be aware that the witness had been led and believe that what she stated was true.
The two aforementioned points are clear and different, however if you get carried away and bring one in while discussing the other one, you will cause confusion but also dilute your evidence and the strength of your argument. Make sure that each point is clear cut and distinct from the other points.
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