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Alyssa Lazar

  • LazarWest Virginia University, BA in Psychology and English with a concentration in Professional Writing & Editing, 2016
  • Juris Doctor Candidate, 2019
  • Duquesne University School of Law
  • Pittsburgh, PA

A lot of people think taking English courses is easy. They think that because English is their first language and is the language we speak, anybody can write well. They are wrong. It takes a special kind of talent to be able to convey ideas through writing in a way that is both compelling and meaningful to their audience. The Professional Writing and Editing Program at WVU is a valuable resource at WVU for developing sharp writing skills that you will utilize for a lifetime.

I learned this while obtaining my B.A. in English with a Concentration in Professional Writing and Editing from West Virginia University, and I continue to learn this as a law student at Duquesne University School of Law.

Legal writing (and research) is challenging. Why? Legal writing is intense. Not only do I have to think about my audience, grammar conventions, syntax rules, and word choice – all those things I had to think about while writing papers in undergrad – but now I have to think about conciseness and accuracy, facets of legal writing. I write everyday in law school. One day when I become a lawyer, I will write even more. And when I do, my writing will be a culmination of skill I’ve practiced since starting in the English department at WVU.

Legal writing is HARD. It’s a new style of writing. Nonetheless, I am still expected to utilize basic writing techniques. If I didn’t have a thorough background in English, I would be lost, like a lot of people without these backgrounds are in law school. I am extremely thankful to have acquired an education in professional writing that aids me as I pursue a legal career. Without a significant background in writing, writing in law school would be much more challenging. Even taking exams would be more stressful because they are all essay writing. Since all the grades in law school are graded on a curve, and everyone knows the material just as well as the guy sitting next to them, grades really depend on who can convey their ideas on a timed essay the best.

Writing is an ESSENTIAL skill for being a successful lawyer. If you can’t write well, you can’t be a competent lawyer. You can’t be a competent lawyer if you can’t write well. I could repeat this over and over again to emphasize just how important writing is in law school and the legal field. Writing was THE most important skill I mastered in the PWE program at WVU, and is THE most important skill I will use the rest of my career.