Writing the Lawyers and Literature Course
James R. Elkins
Parables & Law School Stories
Try your hand at writing a law school parable. Or, you might try a Lawyers and Literature course parable. Or for that matter, just write a parable.
You might think of the parable as an introduction to your course paper; or, it might become an epilogue to your paper. The parable might be a little story about your venture in the known|unknown world of stories.
Your parable, and this is a real possibility, may end up being just another piece of junk, a piece of writing in which you find little of value. You may not be able to salvage anything from this writing exercise. If you find nothing in writing the parable that is salvageable, you might want to rethink how you go about learning from endeavors of this kind that you do not find immediately productive. [On the garbage we produce when we write, and why it might not be such a bad thing, see: Notes on Peter Elbow (notes from Peter Elbow's Writing With Power: Techniques for Mastering the Writing Process (New York: Oxford University Press, 2nd ed., 1998) that might actually help you get on with your writing).
Parable Influenced Writings
Mary Kay Buchmelter, "In the Beginning: Justice and Mercy," 8 (1) ALSA F. 4 (1984) [online text] [Buchmelter was a law student at West Virginia University College of Law when she wrote this essay.]
Jeremy Gilman, "The Real World of Law School," 24 Legal Stud. F. 19 (2000) [online text]
Final exams may be a topic currently on your mind as we begin a new semester. Is it possible that you can put to use some exam-thinking even as we begin: Exams are an impetus to pull together and fit together everything you know about a subject. With this power of final exams to help you focus in mind, I present the following Final Examination question for Lawyers and Literature, a question that assumes that you had a single reading assignment for the entire semester, and that one assignment happened to be Franz Kafka's parable, "Before the Law.
For a law school course on writing that I taught some years ago, see: The Lawyer as Writer