Writing law articles can be fun and interesting

Being a law student is both a fun and interesting time. However, it also means that you are constantly asked to write essays or law articles. At times, you can feel overwhelmed or not know where to start but it doesn’t have to be like that. If you break the task down into sections, you can calmly work through it.

Your professor may give you a list of titles to choose from. Alternatively, you may be writing a piece for a law magazine and you have to come up with the idea yourself. If this is the case, it is always preferable to write about something that interests you. This will keep you working at your article and your passion for your subject will be obvious in your writing. As there is a law for almost every aspect of life these days, there is a long list to choose from. As with all things, some are more interesting than others. Below is a shortened list of areas you may wish to choose from.

Once you have decided which practice area you would like to write about, you need to do some background reading so that you can collect your evidence before you begin writing. This is also a useful exercise because you may think that you would really like to write about Personal Injury Law but when you do your research, you may decide that you really do not want to write about it and prefer to write about Civil Rights instead. Whatever you choose, you need to read about as many past cases as possible. You also need to look for articles and essays on the subject by seasoned lawyers.

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This means that you need to express an idea about something that has a law about it. For instance, a highly emotive law is the death penalty. The Murder Act (1965) meant that the death penalty was abolished in the United Kingdom. However, certain members of parliament do try to bring hanging back and also the death penalty still takes place in other places in the world. If you feel strongly about this, you could argue that “past cases have proved that the death penalty is often carried out on innocent people and therefore to bring hanging back would result in a flawed system for justice.” Writing a paper on this topic would be useful if you wished to construct a career as a defence lawyer or if you wished to practice worldwide.

  • Books – if you type in ‘wrongful executions’ on the internet -you can take your pick of books that have been written on the subject.
  • Interview your professors – ask your professors what their views are on your hypothesis and find out if they know of any interesting cases that you might investigate.
  • Newspaper articles – British Newspaper Archives reports from the 1700s.
  • Legal websites - some of them have articles on the subject or links to other sites that discuss it.
  • Library archives – these always hold interesting case histories. Don’t forget to note where you get your information from if it is in the reference section and you can’t take the books out.

Although, you may feel that planning your article is a waste of time and you wish to get writing, planning can save you time in the long run. Imagine that you were going on a hike from home to your cousin’s house twelve miles away through beautiful countryside. If you had never done it before and you set off without planning your route, you may know how to get the first couple of miles and then suddenly realise that you don’t know where to go once you get that far. It is the same with writing articles. Unless, you have the whole piece planned out point by point, you could go off on a tangent. Not only would this reduce the strength of your argument but it would waste your time too as you struggled to get to the conclusion.

You will find that if you format your plan so that you visualise it as if it is a court case in a law court, it will be much easier for you to structure it. Below is an example of a plan using the aforementioned argument. Fundamentally, because the argument protests about the death penalty, the plan is organised as if you were the defence counsel.

Introduction - make your claim – state your hypothesis and explain the steps that will help you to prove it. In this case it is, “past cases have proved that the death penalty is often carried out on innocent people and therefore to bring hanging back would result in a flawed system for justice.”

Prosecuting - At this point, you would imagine what arguments the prosecutor would make against your proposal. This would mean that the advocate was arguing for the death penalty to be brought back as a law.

Arguments to bring this law back:

  • If a person takes another person’s life, they do not deserve to live themselves.
  • While they continue to live, they are a constant danger to others.
  • The cost of keeping a murderer alive is a huge drain on the tax payer.
  • Hanging is a would be deterrent to other people that may consider taking the lives of others.

Although it is tempting to wash over the antithesis and not provide background evidence so that it is easier to prove your own argument, it is more persuasive to the reader if you provide a solid argument and evidence. For instance:

  • You could research some past cases where murderers have been let out of prison and have gone on to commit murder again.
  • You could provide figures of how much it costs to keep a prisoner incarcerated.
  • You could also demonstrate if the murder rate had gone higher since the abolishment of hanging.

Using these facts will demonstrate that you have done the research but are still committed to your legal beliefs. Incidentally, as you provide each argument for the prosecution, you need to have a counter argument against it. This will strengthen your case and your article.

Defence - At this point, you need to be able to provide evidence of cases where prisoners have been wrongfully hanged. This is the strongest defence of all in this situation. You need to find various cases that demonstrate different reasons why the law is flawed when it comes to the death penalty. This could include police corruption, police neglect towards their duties, the changing face of forensic evidence, lack of information. You also need to suggest that once an execution takes place, if it is a mistake, it is one that can never be rectified.

Interesting cases that might be used:

  • In March 1950, Timothy Evans was executed for the murder of his wife and child. Sixteen years later, the awful truth came out that Evans wasn’t guilty. Mrs Evans and her daughter had been killed by John Christie who also killed five other women.
  • In 1952, Mahmood Hussein Mattan was executed. He was believed to have murdered Lily Volpert. Although an eye witness suggested that it was not Mattan that had done the murder but someone else, this was ignored. When the case was investigated by the Court of Appeal, it was suggested that it was ‘demonstrably flawed’.
  • In 1953, Derek Bentley was executed. This was a mentally handicapped young man that couldn’t truly speak for himself. He had been accused of shooting a police officer even though he was in custody at the time of the crime. Ironically, the person that executed the police officer was discovered. However, because of his youth he could not be executed and served only ten years’ imprisonment.
  • In 1955, Ruth Ellis was the last woman to be hanged in Britain and many would argue that she too should not have been executed. The reason for this is that she murdered her boyfriend, David Blakely. However, and this is an interesting point of law, Blakely had beat her so violently ten days beforehand that she had lost her unborn child. It could be suggested that due to the nature of what happened Ruth Ellis was suffering from diminished responsibility. The only problem was that at that period the legal term ‘diminished responsibility’ did not exist.
  • In 1959, George Kelly ended his days due to the hangman’s noose. He had supposedly murdered the manager of a cinema in Liverpool. Strangely enough, irony raises its head again here too. Although another man, Donald Johnson had confessed to the murder, the police forgot to mention this at George Kelly’s trial.

These are just five sample cases that could be used to add weight to your argument. There are many more. The newspaper archives are a very rich source of information concerning murder trials and executions. Always make sure that you make detailed notes of where you got your sources from as it wastes a great deal of time if you find something that is particularly useful and then you can’t find it again.

If we stay with the metaphor that your article is a court of law, then your conclusion is a summing up speech. Try to make your language lively but succinct. Imagine that your readers are the judge and jury. You have to persuade them of your point of view. Remember to use only the most persuasive part of your argument to deliver the conclusion that you have reached.

The most successful barristers and also legal writers understand that the law, like politics, is very similar to show business. Barristers, legal writers and politicians have got to be interesting and keep whoever is listening to them, or reading what they have written, engaged. Unfortunately, when you are writing a law article you can’t throw a swear word in to lighten it so you have to make sure that you write about something that will keep your reader absorbed in your subject. Furthermore, you want your reader to be persuaded by your argument so you have to make sure that it is easy to read and logical to follow.

  • Make sure that you cite each case that you use as evidence clearly.
  • Give full recognition to any critical reasoning or ideas that you have used from lawyers, scholars or judges.
  • Give a full bibliography of your background reading.
  • Don’t use long, convoluted sentences full of legalese in the hope that you will sound impressive. This will stop the flow of the piece and if it is for a journal, it may even stop people from continuing to read it.
  • Make sure that each paragraph sticks to the point in hand. Digression stops your reader from following your carefully planned argument.
  • When you have done your first draft, put it away for a few days without looking at it if this is possible. The reason is that sometimes when people are working on a subject without a break, they can’t always see it objectively. If you can read it over after a few days away from it, you may be able to see where you can strengthen your argument.
  • Even though you may be sick of looking at your law article, before you finally send it in, make sure that there are no spelling or grammatical mistakes. Although this may sound obvious, sometimes when we have put a great deal of effort into research and a structured argument, it is easy to forget the basic writing.

At this point, you may be thinking of what you are going to write about for any law articles you have been asked to write. Hopefully, this article will have given you the confidence to make a start on it. However, if you feel uncertain that you can write one at this stage, you can always contact us as we provide a professional essay and article writing service. Furthermore, we can also edit or proof read your work for you. If you would like to explore how we could help you, simply contact us to find out more.

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