She teaches legal writing to law students
Natalie Moore Brandt believes that writing pertains to every aspect of practicing law and is increasing in importance in our age of electronic communication. That’s one reason, for the past year, she split her time between practicing law at Wright Connatser and teaching legal writing at the University of North Texas-Dallas College of Law. This summer she joined the faculty full time as a visiting professor teaching legal writing and became of counsel to Wright Connatser.
As a litigator, Natalie’s practice is about persuasion — advocating a point of view. And that is most often done in writing, not in the courtroom, as TV dramas would have you believe. Natalie is also a published writer outside of the legal world (so she knows what she’s talking about in the classroom).
At school, she instructs her students how to craft documents today to avoid problems tomorrow, problems which could potentially end in litigation. “A well written brief, contract, NDA, and even correspondence can prevent future issues because various scenarios have been thought through and all the roles and consequences have been defined and put into writing,” she said.
Our digital age, she says, is a challenge for writing teachers, as abbreviated and colloquial tweets, texts, and emails are ubiquitous to daily life. “I find that students have to retrain their brains to think differently about language in order to write documents that will win legal arguments. Complete sentences, proper grammar, and good vocabulary are necessary elements for that, however they aren’t in everyday online writing.”
The skills are well worth it, Natalie says. Her objective is to prepare students to be productive right out of law school by giving them the writing ability that will make them immediately of value to an employer.
Natalie also imparts knowledge to her students about how to be successful attorneys. One is to help them develop the innate skill to know when to be a lawyer and when to be a counselor: “There is a difference between exercising your knowledge of the law and providing counsel as it relates to the law. It’s subtle, but it’s important.” When facing legal situations, a person may need a counselor as much as a lawyer to help them.
Natalie anticipates that the majority of her students will practice law when they graduate, although in various capacities in judicial, business, and nonprofit environments. We think that wherever they work, they will be strong writers.