Law essays: 10 tips to make your paper shine

Don’t settle for writing a passing paper. You can do better than mediocre, better than just “good enough.” The legal field is fiercely competitive, and excelling in your academic pursuits will ready you for the competitive world of your future career. These ten tips will put you on the path to turning in a truly exceptional essay.

  1. Choosing a great topic.
  2. A great essay begins with a great topic. There are several things to keep in mind when choosing your topic:

    • What is the purpose of the paper?
    • What is your instructor’s purpose for this assignment? They’ve given you a paper to write for a particular reason, to demonstrate your skills in one way or another. You’ll want to choose a topic that allows you to show off exactly what your instructor is looking for.

    • Choose a topic that interests you.
    • You won’t write a great paper by choosing a topic that bores you.

  3. Reference your class readings.
  4. Your instructor has assigned you the texts, articles, and other materials for the class because he or she feels they provide the knowledge you need. If possible, work your class readings into you essay.

  5. Reference material from your instructor’s lectures
  6. Again, this shows your instructor that you’ve been paying attention in class, and you’re putting your class time to good use.

  7. Choose a good angle for your topic.
  8. Before you form your thesis, decide on an interesting angle from which to pursue your topic. If it’s a discussion of an older legal proceeding, think about what new legal precedents have been set since that time, for example.

  9. Write a strong thesis.
  10. A well formed thesis is a great foundation for your paper. Make it specific, defendable, and crystal clear.

  11. Take organized notes.
  12. As you research, organize your notes into categories.

  13. Create a detailed outline.
  14. Outline each paragraph of your essay in detail.

  15. Write the body of the essay first.
  16. If you write the body of the essay first, you’ll be able to plan an introduction and conclusion that tie everything together neatly.

  17. Have a trusted editor read your first draft
  18. No one writes a perfect paper for their first draft. Choose an editor you trust to help you smooth transitions and express your ideas more clearly.

  19. Have an experienced proofreader correct spelling and grammar errors.
  20. Even the best writers have difficulty proofreading their own writing; it’s easy to miss your own mistakes.