HOW TO WRITE A FIRST CLASS LAW ESSAY

Updated: 6 days ago

HOW TO APPROACH THE LAW ESSAY

Writing a first class law essay needs analysis of some sort of legal dilemma. At times, how to write a first class law essay may appear to be a tough and daunting procedure. We have taken the time to give you a check list or plan through which you will be able to understand the steps you should take to be able discover how to write a first class law essay. The trick is it keep things simple and be organised. We have given you 7 steps to employ.


STEP ONE – ANALYSE THE QUESTION (HOW TO WRITE A FIRST CLASS LAW ESSAY)

  1. ​Do not waste time paraphrasing the tutor’s question

  2. Give weight to each word in the question

  3. Consider the meaning of each phrase

  4. Think about what areas of law, ideas and sources the question is directing you towards

  5. What does the tutor really want?

  6. Each tutor may expect something different, consider what this tutor has spoken about, and what cases, articles, and sources he/she has touched on during lectures.

  7. Refer to the original wording frequently

  8. Take care to understand the assessment criteria (see your module/student handbook)

  9. Identify and highlight key words in the question


STEP TWO - PLANNING YOUR RESEARCH (HOW TO WRITE A FIRST CLASS LAW ESSAY)

1. Use a legal dictionary to check the meanings of the key words and phrases you highlighted 2. Use a thesaurus to generate additional words of a similar meaning 3. Use legal indexes to find sources 4. Prepare a ‘literature review’ 5. Identify ‘patterns’ of ideas emerging 6. Identify issues which are relevant to the question 7. Link findings to words in the question 8. Link findings to issues


STEP THREE - RECORDING THE FINDINGS (HOW TO WRITE A FIRST CLASS LAW ESSAY)

​​

1. Keep a regular ‘journal’ in date order

  • Keep the journal in handwriting

  • Record:

** search term tried – eg. ‘taxation’ ** resource used – eg. LQR ** the item found – eg. court case ** importance of item – eg. definition ** exact location – eg. date, issue, page

  • Restrict the amount of writing

2. Recording the findings


STEP FOUR - FORMULATE AN OPINION​ (HOW TO WRITE A FIRST CLASS LAW ESSAY)

With your research on the area, work towards forming an opinion about the question

  • You might have to ‘manipulate’ the question in order to reach an opinion

  • This might take an element of ‘reframing’

  • Your opinion is your ‘answer’, the conclusion that you will work towards in the body of your essay

  • Justify your opinion by reference to the issues raised in the question and your research findings.


STEP FIVE – SET OUT THE ISSUES (HOW TO WRITE A FIRST CLASS LAW ESSAY)

Identify the main issues which must be covered in order to justify your opinion, and create sub-headings for your essay.


STEP SIX - FIRST DRAFT (HOW TO WRITE A FIRST CLASS LAW ESSAY)

​1. Write out the first draft of the essay 2. Remember to write for the reader 3. You are teaching the reader 4. Include the ‘obvious’ points: the tutor needs to know that you know 5. Include footnotes as if typed 6. Write small amounts at a time 7. Build up the essay carefully 8. Keep succinctly to the relevant issues in each sub heading

FIRST PARAGRAPH (LAW ESSAY STRUCTURE)
  1. Outline what the question requires: what it is ‘really about’ – this is where the appropriate manipulating and reframing of the question can be essential

  2. State what the main issues are how you will attack them

  3. Use the first paragraph as your ‘blue-print’ for writing the rest of the essay

THE CENTRAL PARAGRAPHS (LAW ESSAY STRUCTURE)
  1. Each of the main issues must be covered

  2. Use headings to show the main issues

  3. Use subheadings to show the subsidiary issues within the main issues

  4. Underline or embolden main issues

  5. Put sub issues in italics

FINAL PARAGRAPH (LAW ESSAY STRUCTURE)
  1. The heading of the final paragraph is the ‘conclusion’

  2. This must give a very clear statement of your answer

  3. Your answer here must be the same as the answer forecasted in the first paragraph


STEP SEVEN – POLISHING THE DRAFT (HOW TO WRITE A FIRST CLASS LAW ESSAY)

MARGINS AND LINE SPACING

1. Margins should be not less than: 2. 2.5 cms top and bottom 3. 3.0 cms left and right 2. Drafts should be printed using double spacing 3. The final version should be printed using double or 11/2 spacing

PAGE NUMBERING

1. Remember to number pages

2. Page numbers at the foot of the page

3. Number from 1 onwards

4. Show the number on the first page

EXTRACTS

1. Extracts must be shown in double inverted commas – eg. “double inverted commas”

2. Extracts must be introduced: do not start a paragraph or a sentence with an extract

3. Extracts which extend over more than about three lines should be given as a separate paragraph

4. Introduction by reference to the author whose words you are about to reproduce in your essay, and then show the extract:

As Delucchi has pointed out, “[t]he best authors create a paragraph and also indent the paragraph where there are long extracts so that the reader does not mistake the extract as the author’s own words”5

5. Extracts must be consistent with the introduction: the syntax and logic must flow from your own words into the extract

6. Words might be omitted – and omission indicated by dots (… or ….)

7. Words might be added [so that] the extract makes sense in conjunction with its introduction

PARAPHRASES

1. Paraphrases are more difficult to deal with than extracts

2. It is imperative to make clear what is paraphrase and what is your own wording

3. Introduce the author(s) by name and, perhaps, show that you are paraphrasing by introductory words such as ‘has suggested that…’

PROOF-READING

1. This means detailed checking of everything in your essay which needs checking- that means everything 2. Have you answered the question? 3. Is the essay properly structured? 4. Is the language used appropriate? 5. Is the grammar correct? 6. Is the syntax correct? 7. Is the spelling correct? 8. Are all statements supported by an appropriate evidential source? 9. Are all footnote complete? 10. Are all sources mentioned in footnotes also in the bibliography (excl. page/paragraph numbers) 11. Are the pages numbered 12. Have you stated the number of words? 13. Check your essay by reference to the assessment criteria in the Module or Student Handbook


NEED MORE HELP?

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