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How to Write a First-Class Law Essay

Depending on your university and the type of essay you are writing, there will be different requirements as to what constitutes a first-class law essay. However, following these steps will put you in the correct direction towards top marks.

1. Start in Advance

Obvious but important. You should aim to start your law essay as soon as you have the question. Leaving it until the last minute does not only create unnecessary stress, but it also leaves you insufficient time to write, reference and perfect your work.

2. Read, Understand and Deconstruct the Question

Do not begin until you fully comprehend the question. Take time to break the question down into sections and visit your tutor for advice. This will help massively.

3. Research

This is arguably the most crucial part of the law essay writing process. The information must be taken from relevant, reliable and up to date sources. If not, this will weaken your chances of producing a first-class law essay. The more authoritative a source the more marks you will gain. Use primary material over secondary where possible.

Outdated law? No thank you. Blog post from a stranger online? Again, no thank you! Look at information given from those such as experts in the field, judges, lawyers and politicians.

Start writing like a lawyer! Read our tips:

4. write a plan.

After conducting research, you will have an idea of what kind of content you want to put into your text. Take a piece of paper and write what you wish to achieve in each paragraph. This makes it easier when it comes to writing the essay as starting without a plan can get messy. The essay must answer the question and nothing but the question so ensure all of your points relate to it.

5. Write a Good Essay Introduction

An impressive introduction should, firstly, outline the research topic. Do this without simply repeating the given question. Secondly, create a road map for the reader, letting them know how the essay will approach the question. Thirdly, include a thesis statement which we will review in the next point. Your introduction must be concise. The main body of the essay is where you will go into detail.

6. Include a Thesis

This is your opinion on the matter at hand and will usually go into your introduction. Take a clear stance, do not be wishy-washy. Avoid taking an obvious view, being different is good. Before writing, ask yourself if you can prove your argument with the given word count or if you need to adopt a more modest position for the paper.

7. Include Counter-Arguments in Their Best Light

This will prove your broad understanding of the topic. Rebut these arguments and explain why your argument is better. If you do not recognise why your view is stronger, you are ultimately describing two views and then randomly choosing one over the other. Remember, your aim is to persuade the reader to adopt your stance. The reader will not be convinced if you cannot show that your argument withstands opposing arguments.

8. Write a Good Conclusion

Briefly mention all of the main points that you have made throughout. Reaffirm your answer to the law essay question in your conclusion to make sure this is done clearly.

9. Print, Read and Submit on Time

Holding the law essay in front of you as opposed to reading it through a screen can be more effective. Ask someone to read your paper and give you critical feedback. This is useful as you may not have noticed grammatical errors. He or she need not be a lawyer as a well-written paper should make sense to anyone.

10. Not Only is the Content Important, Presentation is Too.

This includes using an appropriate font and font size, referencing correctly and following your university essay requirements such as stating your word count and your student identification number. Do not lose marks for minor reasons.

11. Use Non-Lawyer Language

While being sophisticated is great, legal jargon can come across as fake. Stick to the point. Do not use five words when two will do.

12. Create a Vocabulary Bank!

Advice from my tutor that has significantly helped me when writing law essays is: take note of phrases from books and articles or comments made by others such as your professors. When it comes to writing your law essay, you will have a whole range of vocabulary you can use!

13. Finally, Take Care of Yourself

Last but certainly not least, looking after your health can improve your attitude towards writing your law essay and the essay writing itself. Sleep, eat, drink and exercise appropriately. Take regular breaks and try not to stress. Do not forget to enjoy writing the essay!

Words By: Karen Fulton

Legal Writing: Start Writing Like a Lawyer!

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Gareth Evans

Writing a First Class Law Essay – A Framework for Success

introduction of law essay

Table of Contents

😁 Introduction

❤️ main body, 🎉 conclusion, 📝 references, 🙌 final words.

Writing a decent essay in law school is crucial if we want to get top grades. But it’s important to remember that there’s rarely every one single correct way to approach them. There is no blueprint that we can follow step-by-step to give us a first-class result. 

Nevertheless, there is a framework for success in legal essays that CAN be followed. 

From the moment we get given our essay title to the moment we hand it in, there are some basic principle that we should be aware of that form the foundation of excellent essay writing. And that’s what this article is all about. If you stick around until the end I’ll also be giving you a free guide to help you out even more.

Before we even think about writing our essay, there are a few preliminary steps. The most important of which is research. 

To begin with we need to have two clearly designated areas to write our essay and take our research notes. So simply open up two documents on your computer (e.g. in Word), with one titled ‘essay’ and the other titled ‘notes’. Then divide BOTH of these pages into four sections: introduction; main body; conclusion; and references.

introduction of law essay

At this stage – the research stage – we’re only interested in our ‘notes’ document. 

What is the question asking you?

To research effectively we need to be aware of precisely what the question is asking from us. 

Many students fall into the trap of trying to answer the question that they want to answer (because they know that area better), rather than the one that’s actually been given. So spend some time to wrap your head around the question and whether it expects you to ‘discuss’, ‘evaluate’, ‘critically analyse’, etc

What resources should you read?

Once you’ve understood the question, it’s time to begin reading relevant and appropriate academic resources and other scholarly materials.

My advice would be to begin reading the relevant sections of 1-2 textbooks to ensure you have a full appreciation of the topic. From this, you should be able to form a high-level response to the question. In other words, the basic information from the textbooks should allow you to form a rough opinion on the question that drives your deeper research and preparations. 

By having a rough understanding of your answer, it makes it a lot easier to identify relevant cases, journal articles, statutes, treaties, and so on. Plus, it will make searching through Westlaw, LexisNexis, or some other legal research database quicker and more useful. 

Whenever you find a piece of information that may be useful, remember to drop it into the correct section of our ‘notes’ document and remember to give it a reference straight away. Honestly, references can be incredibly painful if you don’t spend the time to cite your sources straight away. (The amount of time I’ve wasted hunting down a source for something because I didn’t write it down straight away is ridiculous). 

Now we have all the information we need, we can think about the structure and writing the substantive part of the essay within our ‘essay’ document.

The introduction of your essay should be concise. 

The purpose of the introduction is to ensure you have understood what the question is asking you, give the essay an appropriate focus, and presented a clear structure as to how you’re going to answer the question.

Put simply, you need to tell the reader what you’re going to discuss and how they’re going to be led from start to finish, bringing them to your eventual conclusion. 

Many students will use the introduction incorrectly, seeing it as an opportunity to intrigue rather than inform. They often believe that an essay is like a story, where the outcome can’t be revealed until the end. But an essay isn’t like a story at all. And effective essays will hint at the eventual conclusion right away. 

Check out my introduction on an essay I wrote to give you an example of what, I think, is a pretty decent introduction:

introduction of law essay

Although you need to demonstrate you understand the law and the relevant legal concepts behind the essay question (i.e. describe), the most crucial aspect of first-class essay writing is analysis and evaluation.

You need to demonstrate that you can identify the limitation of a particular law or point of view, consider where a judgment is incomplete or illogical, and developing your own viewpoint throughout the essay. 

Many students will leave their analysis until the conclusion, which is far too late. Instead, analysis needs to be intertwined throughout the essay itself. Understand what your opinion is, question legal assumptions, and avoid regurgitating the opinion of academics. 

I’ve found that it doesn’t matter how clumsy your own opinion is, as long as you have an opinion. There is never a correct way to approach legal grey areas, so it’s best to have an opinion and provide sufficient amounts of supporting evidence (from cases, journals, etc.). 

Crucially, ensure that each of your points are well-developed. When students feel out of their depth, they will demonstrate this by moving on to a new topic quickly without getting to grips with the point they’re trying to make. So get comfortable with the legal uncertainty surrounding your essay and be confident enough to have an opinion and back it up. 

Expressing Yourself

First class essays are truly unique. As a reader, you not only see that the student has fully understood the law but has made a clear effort to express themselves.

Importantly, you should aim to explain key concepts or ideas in your own words. This shows that you actually understand what these key concepts or ideas are without relying on someone else’s formulation. 

Students often think that their opinion or interpretation is less valid compared to professors or other academics. The truth is, your opinion is equally valid. If you see a legal concept or a legal idea from a different angle, don’t be afraid to let that known. You’ll be rewarded for doing so. 

Similarly, quotations should be rarely used and – when they are used – with good justification. The problem is, if you’re quoting other academics too often, you will water down your own opinions and ideas. Excessive quotations makes your essay into a patchwork and reformulation of thoughts from other people, and doesn’t adequately demonstrate your own ability to analyse the law.

There are really only three instances you should be putting direct quotations into your essay:

Style and Tone

When you write a legal essay you have a choice between writing in the first person (e.g. ‘I argue that . . .’) or the third person (e.g. ‘it is argued that . . . ‘). It’s completely up to you.

However, like with the previous two points I’ve made, it’s crucial the tone you choose gets your own point across. For instance, the problem with the third person is that the phrase “it is argued that” could mean “I argue that” or “others argue that”. So, if you do opt for the third person (or your university prefers it that way) be aware of the potential limitations in helping you to make your point. 

Other than that, ensure your essay is clear, concise and accurate. You should understand the law as fully as possible before putting pen to paper. If you’re not too sure what the law is or what something means you’re going to have no chance of analysing it effectively. It really is as simple as that.

The purpose of the conclusion is to persuasively draw together and summarise everything that you have already argued. The classic mistake here is try to add some new piece of information, whether that be some new material, thought, or a point of view. But, this will ultimately weaken the conclusion and reduce its impact.

Your goal with the conclusion therefore is simple: package your argument into a short paragraph and demonstrate how that answers the original essay question.

Finally every claim you make must be supported with an appropriate reference. 

Often, you will need to point the reader to a primary law (e.g. a case or statute), but other times the academic opinion in journal articles or books will suffice.

Your university will likely have its own guidelines for references – such as OSCOLA – so do check this out to ensure you do yours correctly (and you will lose marks if you do it wrong). However, in an exam full references aren’t necessary. Simply provide as much context as you can to provide some attempt to reference the source (e.g. Evans said X about this topic or Denning said Y about this topic in the case of Tom vs Jerry [2001]). 

If you want, you can  download my FREE OSCOLA reference guide !

There is no ‘one size fits all’ for writing a great law essay, but following the structure and guidance from this article will take you much of the way to where you need to be.

Nevertheless, if you need further guidance, please  download my FREE guide  where you can find even more information on this topic.

Thanks for reading!

introduction of law essay

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How to Write a Good Law Essay?

Updated 20 Feb 2023

Table of contents

How to start a legal essay

What makes a good legal essay introduction?

Body paragraph, overall guidelines for legal writing, different types of law essays.

There are different types of academic assignments, and each needs a proper understanding of the requirements. Wondering what is law essay, start with defining legal theories, legal reforms, or legal history. Theories expect the writer to say why the law takes such a form and make an argument of the merits and demerits. Legal reforms may either require an evaluation of recent reforms or whether a certain law should be reformed, whereas Legal history expects an understanding of the gradual change in a certain area.

The title of your paper is a vital concern as it determines whether a reader will be compelled to read a paper or whether it makes the reader lose interest when reading. A good title should be precise and clear, using the most familiar terminology.

In addition, subheadings are equally useful to clarify arguments in a paper by allowing a reader to signpost commentary and provide the most coherent structure.

Before you even start working on your assignment, double-check if you know how to structure a law essay. Any paper is divided into sections: Introduction, Body, and Conclusion. But that particular type of writing we examining here requires exceptional attention to references, making it one of the most important structural parts. Any law, act, or court case you have looked through when writing has to be cited in accordance with the formatting style your college or university supports.

Ways of Structuring An Essay On Legal Studies

As you brainstorm various legal assignments and learn how to write a law essay introduction, it's essential to think over the best ways of structuring your law essay. In the majority of cases, you will have to follow the basic "introduction, three body paragraphs, and conclusion" research pattern, yet legislation often involves the following structure:

- Introduction part with the background information and the legal reminder about when the law or a case study has taken place. It will help your readers to determine what is being researched and discussed.

- Body paragraphs should focus on strong argumentation regardless of the legal essay format. It means that both administrative and criminal law assignments will have to include a thesis statement with some evidence. It should help to connect things and follow the structure regarding your objectives.

- Counter-arguments paragraph. If there are opposite opinions, make sure to include them as well with the sources and explanations.

- Conclusion. This is where you sum things up and focus on the suggestions for further research.

- References.

- Appendices. This is where the majority of legal papers or court transcripts are usually included. Remember to follow your style formatting rules as you work on your structure.

Save your time! We can take care of your essay


To come up with a good introduction, you need to put in mind the main objectives it is meant to achieve. These are presenting arguments, providing a context, setting out parameters for the discussion, and providing a brief outline of the structure. The question provides an understanding of an area of law in focus and how it addresses the body. Therefore, it is important to set out the main question a paper is supposed to answer and then explain how you plan to answer it.

A good way how to answer a legal essay question in the introduction would be:

“This essay will refer to the weaknesses of the… Act and analyze effects of the implementation upon…”

The introduction should also provide a roadmap to a user by illustrating the structure used in a paper. A classic example of a law essay is the following:

“The essay will be divided into four main sections. In section I, the essay will provide an in-depth understanding of … Act. In section II, an essay will examine the implementation of the act and in Section III, the essay will critic the amendment instrument and finally indicate the position in the argument in section IV.”

If you are asking how to write a good law essay, the answer would be – to pay most of the attention to the body of it. To examine the context and analysis of the legal concern effectively, it is important to give context and analysis of a legal issue in a body paragraph. This demonstrates that you have a sound understanding of the topic in discussion. A writer should be able to refer to the applicability of law including the Act of parliament in a legislation issue or case when relying on a judgment.

For example, the writer may indicate;

“In reference to section… Act… law clearly indicates that …” Or “In case of … vs. …”

Secondly, you need to present your arguments clearly and persuasively. The best way to do this is by including alternative sides of your argument, which shows that you have considered all aspects of an issue before concluding on that matter.

Two things are crucial in writing a body paragraph. These are topic sentences and transitions.

A topic sentence gives a focus to the paragraph. It is used as a tool to summarize the overall position taken by the author, the paragraph then gives fine details of specific arguments. In addition, the writer may also use the topic sentence to assess whether all content written in that paragraph is relevant to the legal essay.

A good example of a topic sentence that demonstrates context and will help you with a law paper would be:

“In 2011, the … Act was implemented to solve the critical issues of... However, this has been a big argument for its weaknesses including…"

Depending on the title of the paper, some may require including a variety of subjects. There is a need to ensure seamless transitions between the subjects. The best way to do this is through using co-joining words such as ‘in addition to,’ ’moreover,’ ’secondly’, ’similarly’, ’nevertheless.’ etc. To show contrast, you could also use words such as, ’in contrast to, ’however, etc. This provides flow when a reader is going through the essay.

There are various structures used to write a body paragraph, and you need to select the most suitable one for your analysis.

The purpose of a conclusion is to reiterate the main argument and position taken by the student. It is important to ensure that the conclusion answers the question asked in the introduction. Finally, the conclusion should not contain new material and should be relative to what was written in a body.

While there is no universal pattern that shows how to write a first-class law essay, there are legislation standards, accurate grammar, and citing of every idea that is not yours that come first. It will not only help you come up with an excellent essay that will earn you good grades but let you avoid plagiarism and writing issues.

In addition to a proper consideration of the structure, the following should be considered:

Law is a constantly evolving area, which requires the demonstration of a proper understanding of subject matter. Nevertheless, the knowledge is not enough if not demonstrated by an ability to apply the law to derive the legal answers.

The legal essay must be developed logically and systematically from issue identification/question to the analysis and authority as well as conclusion.

A common pitfall in writing an essay by some students is the use of informal language such as, “He made the wrong judgment because...” Instead, a good essay would say, “The argument made is unconvincing for the following reasons...”

For a literary work to stand out, there is a need for originality, insight, and personal argument by the writer. This demonstrates an independent and intellectual demeanor, which is excellent when backed up by the authority.

Now, you are informed on how to write law essays. A good writer ensures a comprehensive and prolific referencing which challenges and informs on the analysis in the paper. It should be page-specific which directs the reader to the specific part integrated into the essay. The best way to incorporate authority is through integrating cases to develop analysis. Whenever you need any assistance, be it a complete paper or even a part of it, our essay writing company is always here to give you high-quality law essay writer and provide other academic services.

As you start with law essay writing tasks, you will encounter a dozen of various essay types that will range from papers on legal theory to argumentations and court hearings. Still, every type of law writing requires proper analysis and the presence of evidence as you see how a certain law has affected the situation or what acts have been used to achieve something.

- Legal Theory Writing. Here is where you have to explain why some law is the way it is and discuss the pros and cons. There are many types of writing in this area as you will have to focus on comparison and analysis tasks.

- Legal Reform Tasks. A good law essay example here would be the Brexit legislation as the changes that we have seen take place in every field of life. As a Law student, you should explain and estimate these changes. If the reform has taken place because of some event, it may be necessary to provide some background information in your essay’s introduction.

- Legal History. This section may talk about legal questions that are related to historical matters. A law essay example on history would mention issues like the Corporate Lawor the famous Statute of Marlborough that has been passed by the Parliament of . Even though it was during the times of Henry III and took place in 1267, the students still have to explore and explain these laws.

- Court Hearings & Case Study Tasks. As the name implies, these law essays always deal with already existing case studies where you have to review and analyse things. The same relates to court hearings that may be both or come from other countries. These are quite complex and require an extra bit of your attention.

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introduction of law essay

Examples of legal writing

Further information.



A proper introduction should:

Here are three examples of introduction paragraphs.  They have been re-written several times to illustrate the difference between excellent, good and poor answers. For a close reading of the examples, click the images below.

Introduction example 1

The body of your essay should:

This example illustrates how to keep an essay succinct and focused, by taking the time to define the topic:

Defining a topic

Lastly, this paragraph illustrates how to engage with opposing arguments and refute them:

Opposing arguments

Conclusion example 1

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Tips from your Tutor: How to Write the Perfect Law Essay Introduction


After reading the first few sentences of a law essay, most markers will start to formulate an idea of the mark range. If they start with a Credit, Pass or Fail mark in mind, it becomes incredibly difficult for the paragraphs that follow to bring the paper back up into the higher mark brackets. Impress your marker from the get-go by following these tips…

1. Provide context

You may be keen to begin outlining your points in the first sentence of your essay, but it’s good practice to open your paper with one to three sentences of background information that provides context for the argument that follows. For example:

In 2009, the […..] Act was introduced to remedy problems of […..] However, from its inception it has been criticised for [.....].

2. Refer to the question

It’s good to have some brief background information in your introduction, but this is worthless if it is not related back to the question. Make sure you clearly refer to the question in your introduction by using its key terms throughout. For example, if the question is: “What has been the impact of the […] amendments?” you could refer to the question in the following way:

This essay will examine recent amendments to the [.....] Act and explore their effect upon […..].

3. Be specific

Be specific about where your essay will go. Which reforms or mechanisms will you focus on? Which one(s) will you avoid? Why? Will you draw on any comparative jurisdictions? Theories?

This essay will examine the effectiveness of civil litigation rules in relation to Summary Judgments only. Summary judgments have been chosen as the key area of inquiry because they are the major mechanism a judge can use to filter out cases that should not go to trial. This essay will draw upon the American experience to suggest that a higher threshold test is preferable to NSW’s current standard…

4. Provide a roadmap

After you outline the scope of your argument, you should provide a brief outline of your essay’s structure to assist the reader:

In section I, this essay will outline the key recommendations of the […..] Report. Section II will examine the implementation of these recommendations in the current [……] Amendment Act. In section III, the effectiveness of this amending instrument will be critiqued, before possibilities for reform outlined in Section IV.

5. Finish with your conclusion(s)

Students are often quite shy about putting their conclusion(s) into their introduction, but this comes across as polished and professional:

This essay will ultimately conclude that the threshold test for obtaining a default judgment is inappropriate and unfair, and should be raised to reflect the standard in [jurisdiction].

Marie Hadley is a lawyer, PhD candidate at UNSW, and tutor who loves teaching legal writing and problem solving skills.

FROM THE ARCHIVES: This story was first published on Survive Law on 22 August 2013.

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Law: Legal essay

Four tips on how to write a good law essay.

An essay is a common type of assessment in a law degree. This resource offers tips and resources to help you plan and write law essays. There are usually two types of law essays: the theoretical based essay and the problem-style essay.

The theoretical based essay may ask you to critically discuss a new piece of legislation or a recent case in relation to existing laws or legal principles. You may also be asked to take a side in an argument or discuss the wider societal implications of a legal outcome.

Problem-style essays require you to advise a party based on the analysis of a scenario or given problem. You will be required to identify the legal issues and apply relevant law. See more on legal problem-solving in this resource . This resource will focus on theoretical based law essays. There are a number of strategies that may help you in starting, structuring and presenting a law essay.

1. Starting your answer

The first step to a successful law essay is understanding the question. One of the most effective ways of breaking down the question is to identify the direction, content, and scope or limiting words.

For example, look at the following essay question:

Direction Words : Critically analyse.

Content Words: tort of negligence; tort of battery; consenting to medical treatment; patient’s right (autonomous decision).

Scope/Limiting Words: the extent to which, protect.

You may also find it useful to look at the rubric to help you interpret your examiner’s expectations.

2. Planning your argument

When reading a case, journal article, book chapter or online article, it can be hard to know exactly how to use the source in an essay. This is where taking good notes while reading critically is helpful. Take a look at our other resources to help you Read critically and Read difficult material .

The next step is to take notes that help you understand different arguments and issues, or information and context, and refer back to your assignment question to keep you on track.

Writing a very short summary of each source is a great way to start. For example, for each journal article you read, try to summarise the author's main points in a few lines. This will help you to articulate the meaning in your own words.

Then, expand on this summary with some key points. Be sure that when taking notes, you make a note of the source and the pinpoint reference or page number, so that you can correctly cite the source in your essay.

Planning strategies

Understanding arguments.

Think about how you will use your resources. You may use a primary or secondary resource to:

It may be helpful to ask:

See our resource Master the art of note-making and Brainstorming and mind mapping for more tips.

Integrating resources into your essay

It is important to use your research well. One way to do this is to plan the main points of your essay, and how you will use your primary and secondary resources (such as journal articles, books, case law, legislation, websites) to support one or more of those points.

3. Structuring your answer

A key element of successful law essays is the structure. A good structure will enable you to communicate your ideas fluently and efficiently. This is an important and highly valued skill not only in law school, but in practice as well.

Usually, your essay requires an introduction, body paragraphs and a conclusion. Generally, you should have one idea per paragraph. This may mean shorter paragraphs than what you would ordinarily write in high school or other faculties. Concision is key in law. Therefore, we recommend a short paragraph which efficiently addresses an issue over a long and winding exploration of many different issues.

Remember to use subheadings to provide structure to your writing. It is a good idea to come up with your subheadings before you start writing so that you have a structure to follow. The subheadings should act as a series of subtopics which reflect the arguments needed to substantiate your thesis statement.

Below we have an overview of the working components of good law essays. Examiners expect you to use all of these in your writing. The samples come from Julie Cassidy, ‘Hollow Avowals of Human Rights Protection: Time for an Australian Federal Bill of Rights?’ (2008) 13 Deakin Law Review 131.

NB: This is an illustrative example only. It is not concise enough for an undergraduate research essay and you would be expected to remove phrases like “In the course of, it is suggested that, in regard to.”

4. Presenting your ideas

In order to do well, you must also present your essay so that it reflects academic standards. This includes correct citation practices, subheadings, Plain English, and grammar and spelling.

Examiners highly value closely edited and proofed work. First-year students commonly rely too much on passive constructions and embellished language. Good lawyers write in clear and concise English that is easily understood.

Your essay must adhere to the AGLC4 rules , including appropriate pinpoint footnotes and bibliography.

A comprehensive guide to AGLC4 is provided by the Library.

Law essays use subheadings frequently, but judiciously. This may be different to what you are used to.

Subheadings also help provide a structure. See the previous section for more advice.

In accordance with AGLC 4, the first word of your heading must be capitalised.

Examiners do not want to see the full extent of your vocabulary. They prefer to see complex arguments rendered in simple language.

This, surprisingly, is not easy. We tend to think through writing. That is, our ideas come to us as we are writing. This leaves a lot of writing which is repetitive, vague, or contradictory as our ideas evolve.

Use the editing worksheet to learn which words you can easily swap out to improve readability and strategies to avoid long-winded constructions.

Do not leave your assignment to the last minute. Not only will this create undue stress, but you will not have adequate time to proofread your assignment.

When we work intensively on a piece of writing, we need a period of time away, or distance, in order to re-read our work objectively. Give yourself 2-3 days before the due date so you can print your text and edit it carefully to remove any typos or grammatical errors.

Services like Grammarly may help to pick up errors that are missed by Microsoft Word.

Further resources

Legal essay strategies, legal essay strategies accordion.

Examples and language

Effective Legal Writing: A Practical Approach

Corbett-Jarvis and Grigg

How to write better law essays : tools and techniques for success in exams and assignments

Steve Foster

How to write law essays and exams

Stacie Strong

Legal Writing

Lisa Webley

Level Up Your Essays: How to get better grades at university

Inger Mewburn, Shaun Lehmann, and Katherine Firth

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Law Essay Introduction Writing Tips

EssayEdge > Blog > Law Essay Introduction Writing Tips

The introduction is the most important part of your essay, and it has one purpose to fulfill above all others: to draw in the reader. Ideally this should begin right from the attention-grabbing opening sentence. The introduction should then go on to orient the reader to the focus of the essay. But orientation is not an essential purpose because that can be achieved gradually in the essay. Many people make the mistake of writing a paragraph that explains what they’re going to talk about in the rest of the essay.

Such a paragraph might include something like the following:

“My journey toward law has been shaped by a variety of experiences, including academic studies, volunteer work, and extracurricular activities.” The reader knows that you’re going to talk about these things and is most likely muttering to herself, “Get to the point.”

If you have a paragraph like this in your essay, the best move would be to delete it. Often, your second paragraph, which begins to discuss a specific experience, will work much better as an introduction. However, you may also find that a later paragraph works even better. In general, you should bring your most compelling experience to the forefront and then structure your essay around that.

The following is a list of possible approaches to the introduction, with an emphasis on the opening sentence itself:

Table of Contents:

Jump Right In

Some people will start with a compelling experience but will insist on prefacing that experience with a very generic statement such as the following:

“My interest in law can be traced back to the time I first found out that justice is not absolute.”

Often, the reason people will write such a statement is that they feel compelled to restate the question in some way. If your essay is answering the question “Why are you interested in law?” you should be able to demonstrate your reasons without relying on such a bland summary sentence.

If, on the other hand, you’re tempted to use the first sentence to explain context, you should respect the reader’s intelligence enough to save that context for later. For example, consider the opening sentences from this essay.

“I began hallucinating early Thursday morning. My team and I were halfway finished with what our instructors dubbed ‘The Long Paddle,’ and I could feel my sanity slowly slipping away. A combination of severe sleep deprivation and extreme physical exercise can do that to you.”

This opening is attention grabbing precisely because it offers no context. You’re immediately involved in the story, and you’re curious to see what’s about to happen. If the writer had instead started by explaining that he was in the middle of “Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL Training,” then the sense of drama would be lost.

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Show Your Originality

If you can make yourself stand out right from the first sentence, then you will have contributed a great deal to your case for admission. You should not, of course, just throw out a random fact about yourself; however, if your essay is going to emphasize a unique aspect of your life, then that should come up right away.

This applicant starts as follows:

“I entered boot camp on June 18, 1989. That day, the Indian child who had chased cows and the American youth who had philosophized about physics died.”

By juxtaposing incongruous elements of his personality, the writer highlights his uniqueness and leaves the reader wanting to learn more.

State a Problem

By stating a problem, you create instant curiosity because the reader wants to see how you will address this problem.  This applicant  uses a rhetorical question to state a problem that has confronted him: his height. You don’t need to limit yourself to personal issues, however. You could state a general problem you’ve observed in the legal system and then go on to describe how you hope to address it in your career. You might also cite a discouraging statistic and then reflect on its significance. There are many possibilities here, but what unites them is the element of drama. You should use that to your advantage in creating a strong lead.

This is the type of approach that we can’t ignore because it has the potential to be so effective, but it also could have disastrous results. The same warnings apply here that we enumerated for humor in the Tone section. Try to be subtly and creatively clever rather than outrageous.

This applicant  uses a typical “My interest in law” opening, but has a surprising point to make:

“My interest in the law began with donuts.”

By thwarting expectation with this unconventional origin, the writer succeeds in grabbing the reader’s attention as she turns to a more serious point.

Are you too self-confident and think that the paper you crafted can be submitted? Reread this article and then analyze your writing. We are sure it needs to be improved by our law admission essay service. Hire one of our writers to double-check your writing and ensure it’s catchy and personalized.

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