n Stellenbosch Law Review = Stellenbosch Regstydskrif - Teaching South African law students (legal) writing skills

Volume 24, Issue 3
  • ISSN : 1016-4359
  • E-ISSN: 1996-2193



Legal writing as a subject has been largely absent from the South African undergraduate LLB curriculum, despite the fact that every legal practitioner needs to be accomplished in the art of legal writing in some or other form. Literature on current trends in foreign schools of law reveals that a complete or stand-alone course in legal writing is, as a standard procedure, included in the law degree programme. Even though some South African law faculties are yet to respond to this trend, others - including the Faculty of Law at the University of the Free State ("UFS") - have slowly started to include aspects of a potential legal writing course in the broad rubric of a subject known at the UFS as Legal Practice, with some positive results. However, in teaching these courses, it has become apparent that - apart from "practical skills" modules - traditional theory subjects could also play a crucial role in achieving the ideals of teaching effective advocacy in a holistic manner. The debate on how this may be achieved is however noticeably absent from the academic discourse on the general restructuring and transformation of the LLB curriculum. The steps taken by the UFS Faculty of Law to address the teaching vacuum in respect of legal writing and other critical skills are presented in this article. It is aimed at stimulating debate among South African legal academics on the establishment of legal writing courses as core modules in the LLB curriculum. It concludes that, in view of the general under-preparedness of students to study law, the "staggered" introduction of components of legal writing into the LLB curriculum can possibly provide some solutions.

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