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September 08, 2011

The University of San Francisco School of Law recently hosted the 2011 Western Regional Legal Writing Conference “How to Hit the Ground Writing: Meeting the Expectations of the Changing Legal Market.”

Richard Wydick delivered the keynote address at the 2011 Western Regional Legal Writing Conference held at the University of San Francisco School of Law.

The Aug. 25 event explored employers’ expectations for first-year lawyers and how legal writing professors can help their students meet those expectations.

Richard Wydick, who retired from the UC Davis law faculty in 2003, delivered the keynote address, which included a lesson on how to avoid ambiguity in writing. He is the author of Plain English for Lawyers (Carolina Academic Press, Fifth Edition 2005).

“You are a very lucky group if you teach legal research and writing because for most of you that means teaching first-year students. They’re the most enthusiastic, most fun, most willing to work hard and learn,” Wydick said. “And further, you have the pleasure of teaching them the two most useful skills that they’ll be using the rest of their lives—how to research the law and how to write.”

The conference included three panels featuring different types of employers, such as solo practitioners, public interest organizations, law firm librarians, and large firms. The panels provided the legal writing professors in attendance with unique viewpoints on what skills are most important for law school graduates in today’s legal employment landscape.

Faculty from around the country also presented on topics relevant to legal writing teaching, including how to maximize cost-effective legal research in small practices, encourage a work-life balance, demonstrate professional conduct in lawyering skills courses, teach effective billing practices, design assignments to inspire critical thinking, and use popular media to teach persuasive writing skills.

“We are living in a time of incredible economic, political, and social upheaval. It would be absurd to think that such extraordinary change would not affect all that we do as legal educators,” USF School of Law Dean Jeffrey Brand said. “These times demand that we be creative and work together to provide a relevant education to our students. There is no question that ‘relevant’ translates into better skills training to help students find meaningful work.”