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Why Lawyers Should Write for the Digital Reader

Rosenberg, Joseph A., Why Lawyers Should Write for the Digital Reader (January 6, 2023). Vol. 27 Legal Writing: The Journal of the Legal Writing Institute, Forthcoming , Available at SSRN: – “The legal profession has been shifting from paper to digital, a trend accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Lawyers no longer have a choice about incorporating technology into their practice. Written communication is a core lawyering skill: in many ways, to be a lawyer is to be a writer. Especially in the age of COVID-19, the fundamental concept of legal writing, and how it is taught, mentored, and supervised in law schools and in practice, should reflect the reality of lawyering in the digital age. Law students and the new generations of attorneys are increasingly diverse in their backgrounds, circumstances, and academic “literacy” experiences. This impacts how they adapt initially to the culture of law school and then to the profession, including legal writing norms. Yet the fundamental paradigm or model for legal writing in law schools and in the legal profession remains a paper document. The basic structure of the legal memorandum and brief remains mostly unchanged since it developed in the typewriter age before computers. This critical reexamination of legal rhetoric and communication extends to the modalities and technologies through which legal writing is produced and consumed, and calls for a different paradigm, which I will refer to as the “writing for the digital age framework.” Digital writing does not replace, but enhances, the creative, human writing process, complex narrative and analysis, or the role of “old school” technologies in that process — for example, pen and paper.”

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