This book has been replaced by a newer edition:

A Lawyer Writes cover

A Lawyer Writes: A Practical Guide to Legal Analysis, Fourth Edition

by Christine Coughlin, Joan Malmud Rocklin, Sandy Patrick

2024, 464 pp, paper, ISBN 978-1-5310-2069-9


2024 Teacher's Manual forthcoming

A Lawyer Writes

A Practical Guide to Legal Analysis

Third Edition

by Christine Coughlin, Joan Malmud Rocklin, Sandy Patrick

Tags: First Year, Legal Writing

Table of Contents (PDF)

Teacher's Manual available

442 pp  $65.00

ISBN 978-1-5310-0876-5
eISBN 978-1-5310-0877-2

10% discount and free ground shipping within the United States for all orders over $50

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For class planning purposes, instructors may find a brief list of changes from the second edition of A Lawyer Writes here.

This new edition of the popular text teaches the foundational principles of critical reading, analysis, and writing in a clear and accessible way. By putting the reader in the place of a first-year attorney, the text shows law students how to succeed in law school and in the practice of law. Using graphics and contrasting effective and weak examples to illustrate concepts, the book demonstrates best practices in both traditional and electronic environments. Speaking to its readers in a straightforward manner, A Lawyer Writes communicates essential skills and theories so that they will be retained for a lifetime of legal practice.

This third edition of A Lawyer Writes preserves the original concepts from the previous edition while refining content to reflect current practices. Chapter 18, "Professional Emails," not only discusses the form and substance of electronic communication, but now features new material on how to convey analysis effectively in email. Chapter 19, "The Transition from Objective to Persuasive Writing," has been reorganized and revised to highlight effective strategies for drafting persuasive analysis. Revisions in other chapters reorganize and update the original content by expanding on or clarifying ideas.

A teaching website is available. Updated PowerPoint slides for this edition are now available to adopters. To request the link and login information, please email

Praise for the third edition:"Chapter 2 gives one of the best explanations of the U.S. federal court system I have seen, not only giving several pages over to discussing jurisdiction and hierarchy but also looking carefully at the meaning of stare decisis and the effect it has on the "why" of gathering case law. ... If you are a law librarian in a law school or a firm librarian in charge of the incoming attorney orientation and are asked for a book that will help a new attorney on the first day, this is a good book to consider handing to them. The book, although requiring careful reading, rewards the reader with understanding, and has numerous tools and useful information that will help anyone get a better grasp on legal analysis and the place it has in legal research."

— Emily J. Flanigan, Law Library Journal Vol. 111:2
A Lawyer Writes made a great difference in my teaching this year. The book explains concisely the expectations of lawyers regarding organization of legal analysis and then explicitly shows law students how to meet those expectations. The frequent examples are a great complement to the clear and accessible text."

— Suzanne Rowe, Luvaas Faculty Fellow 2008-09, Director, Legal Research and Writing, Associate Professor of Law, University of Oregon
One of the best parts of A Lawyer Writes is its chapter explaining rules. After my students read that chapter, they really seemed to understand the concept that rules can be stated implicitly in the cases, and that it was their job to make those rules explicit for their readers. The book also provides a number of excellent, easy-to-understand examples in every chapter, which the students found very helpful."

— Alison Julien, Associate Professor of Legal Writing, Marquette University Law School
A Lawyer Writes is the perfect book for the first semester of Legal Writing. It explains the foundations of legal reasoning, illustrates those foundations with practical examples, and is an exemplary model of its own lessons about good legal writing."

— Steve Johansen, Professor of Law, Lewis & Clark Law School

Comp Copy If you are a professor teaching in this field you may request a complimentary copy.