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Law School: Avoid Expository Writing in Law School Essay Exams

In law school, as well as in law practice, you will have many opportunities to demonstrate your skills in many types of writing. One type of writing that you will need to use from time to time is expository writing. Expository writing is a rhetorical mode of writing in which the author’s purpose is to inform, explain, describe, or define his subject to the reader.

However, when answering the law school writing test questions, you are asked to demonstrate a different type of writing. Exams are opportunities to show your teacher your legal problem solving skills by identifying problems, establishing concise rules to be used to solve problems, and then applying your analytical talents to reason and reach conclusions. That requires a deviation from expository writing.

By way of example, to prove a claim for negligence, a plaintiff must provide evidence of several elements, one of which is the existence of a “duty” on the part of the defendant to act with reasonable care in relation to the plaintiff. The following is unnecessary in an essay answer:

“Duty” can serve as a touchstone when it comes to understanding the essence of the concept of negligence. The notion of duty seems to be a universal cornerstone in legal systems around the world. In civilized societies, all human action conforms to the law, which the members of each society must obey. The duty may be bound by law or by contract. When imposed by law, a duty is an obligation that requires the actor to conform to a certain standard of conduct to protect others against unreasonable risks. The word “duty” is used throughout the Reaffirmation of Grievances to denote the fact that the actor must behave in a particular way; If he does not do so, he runs the risk of being subject to liability vis-à-vis another to whom the duty is owed for any damage suffered by said other, of which the conduct of that actor is a real and proximate cause.

From an essay writing point of view (outside of law school), this can be a good paragraph. Including it in an expository writing could be helpful. Although introductory explanations, historical justifications, moral discussions, and transitional paragraphs tend to round out good collegiate expository writing, these are not hallmarks of good law school essay exam writing.

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