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In this study, I propose a curriculum focused on raising students’ linguistic awareness through rigorous discourse analysis and reflective writing in a legal context. Students analyze authentic, full-text legal documents using discourse analysis methodology. By carefully analyzing the language in legal opinions, appellate briefs, law review articles, law school exams, typical commercial contracts, and statutes, students become experts in analyzing and evaluating legal texts. Students learn to manipulate legal language to achieve various desired linguistic and legal effects. This approach has three primary advantages. First, it forces the students to carefully read authentic legal texts. Second, it gives students the linguistic tools to talk about the effectiveness of texts. Third, it empowers students to criticize legal texts and concomitantly enables them to purposefully craft language to achieve a desired discourse message. These skills are wholly portable–both in law school and in law practice.

Publication Citation

1 Int'l J. L. Language & Discourse 1-19 (2011)