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Judicial Externships: Research and Resources: Writing and Editing Resources

Research resources for students participating in judicial placements.

Knowledge Management

One of the best resources for learning the writing and research norms in your court will be the existing work product of the clerks and staff attorneys in your office. Most courts have example work product readily available and often have an internal manual with grammar and citation formats preferred by the judges.

  • Ask about sample documents and formats
  • Ask if there are internal guides for writing
  • Ask if the court librarian is available to answer research questions
  • Ask about the confidentiality of the work product shared by and with you

Handbooks

Writing

"Members of the general public will rarely read opinions. But reporters from the media will communicate what they believe to be the substance of an opinion that strikes them as being of public interest. When an opinion addresses an issue of general public interest or is likely to attract media attention, it should be written in a manner that will ensure it cannot be misunderstood. The mark of a well-written opinion is that it is comprehensible to an intelligent layperson."

Federal Judicial Center, Judicial Writing Manual 6 (2d. ed. 2013).

Practical Approach

Most of the commercial legal research platforms have a practice-driven section that students may miss if they don't attend training sessions or take an upper-level research class. They often contain drafting tools and sample documents that can help ease the transition between doing legal research and creating a legal document.

  • Use West's Practical Law to see standard documents and clauses, or upload a document to Drafting Assistant to get citation and resource feedback. Navigate to these features by clicking the arrow next to "Westlaw Edge."
  • Use Lexis' Practice Advisor for similar sample drafts and clauses as well as articles and practice notes.

 

Citation

Legal Style Manuals

Effective Court Practice

Recent scholarship from court clerks includes recommendations on writing briefs for the court that focus on clarity and simplicity.

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