UB’s Legal Writing Center was highlighted in an April 10 article, “Teaching career skills for advancement,” in a special Baltimore Sun education supplement (the article begins on page 2 and jumps to page 5).
Claudia Diamond, the law school’s director of academic support, described the genesis of the writing center – a survey of 300 legal practitioners in the Baltimore-Washington region that revealed significant concern about recent law graduates’ writing and critical-thinking skills.
“A frequent refrain [from the legal professionals] … was that students are not graduating law school with satisfactory grammar and syntax skills and that these deficits undermined the credibility of their legal analysis,” wrote Diamond and co-author Catherine Finn in a Washington Lawyer article about the survey that was cited by The Sun.
Diamond said she was not surprised.
“I have taught legal writing for a number of years,” she said, “and the concerns I heard from legal practitioners echoed the same concerns that I had – that our students needed more feedback on their writing and ample opportunities to seek such feedback.”
With Isabell May, the assistant director of writing services for the university’s Achievement and Learning Center, Diamond proposed the establishment of a peer-led writing center for UB law students. Thanks to a grant from the University of Baltimore Foundation, the pilot program began last semester.
Today, five upper-level students serve as writing fellows, working one on one with students to help with any legal writing assignment.
“I’m extremely pleased with the quality and expertise of our inaugural writing fellows group,” Diamond said. “These five individuals are high achieving and extremely busy law students who are at the top of their class. Recognizing the tremendous need at the school to provide this kind of service, they have been very willing to share their expertise and training with their fellow students. We ultimately are trying to create a community of writers among law students, and the writing fellows have enthusiastically endorsed this idea.”