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June 1, 2012 / compassioninpolitics

How to read a law review article

Finally, readers need a fourth type of knowledge called “strategic” knowledge or
more commonly referred to as reading strategies.33 Reading strategies are “set[s] of
mental processes used by a reader to achieve a purpose.”34 Reading strategies are
“intentional, flexible, and self-evaluative.”35 Strategic reading occurs when readers “set a
purpose for reading, self-question, search for important information, make inferences,
summarize, and monitor the developing meaning.”36
For basic reading, we are usually
unaware of the reading strategies we use to help us move through text.37 We may
evaluate, underline or question the text without thinking about these actions as actual
“strategies.” However, as reading becomes more difficult, we become more conscious of
how we are reading the text.38 Novice readers approaching a new type of text for the first
time make use of several basic strategies, including underlining, making notes,
highlighting, questioning text, etc. Experts in a field have developed more specialized
reading strategies, which allow them to read more analytically and efficiently. For
example, a practicing attorney or “legal expert” may synthesize text, hypothesize, and
connect with prior knowledge or experience.39

Leah M. Christensen, Assistant Professor of Law, University of St. Thomas Law School. University of
Iowa Law School, J.D.; University of Chicago, B.A.

Legal Reading and Law School Success: An Empirical Study

Organization of Law Review Articles:
• Title/Author Quals (usually law student or professor)
• Abstract
• Intro
• 4 to 12 sections (straw person and quotation….and criticism and answering the argument)
• Conclusion
• Footnotes (lots & lots). Footnotes occasionally have additional arguments (either warrants or nuances or context). Footnotes also contain more resources.

Analogizing P
Clarifying D
Commenting on Difficulty D
Confirming Understanding D
Confusion re: Term D
Connecting with Prior Text R
Connecting with Prior Knowledge R
Connecting with Purpose R
Contextualizing R
Disconnection with Purpose D
Distinguishing P
Drawing conclusion P
Drawing tentative conclusion P
Evaluating P
Hypothesizing P
Highlighting D
Identifying Holding D
Locating information D
Making Assumption D
Marking action D
Making margin notes D
Noting aspect of legal structure D
Noting purpose R
Noting important detail D
Noting structural signal D
Paraphrasing D
Planning P
Predicting P
Questioning D
Reevaluating Tentative Conclusion P
Reporting distraction O
Reporting typical process O
Rereading D
Reviewing text D
Synthesizing P
Skimming D
Stating purpose R
Summarizing D
Voicing Confusion D
Voicing Lack of Knowledge D

Could make a shorter list that was more debate specific…..for instance:
• Why is this argument true?
• Whats the implication? Whats the impact? Who cares?
• Is it credible?
• Is it defensible in debate?
• How could I enhance this argument?
• How can I focus this argument? (signal/noise)
• What is the impact?
• How does this fit?

• Identify key moves in the field (history)
• Identify key theorists in the field
• Terms of art/Definition of terms/definition of acronyms

• Context (geographical, physical, institutional, cultural, and historical)
• Credibility
• Causal Chain (?)
• Impact (Paint a picture)
• Said vs. Implied (Internal vs. External) (Subjective vs. Objective)

You may also want to visit this text which is a common debate text. (I wouldn’t be surprised if its available at the local college library, but you can also get it on Amazon for $60 used or $120 new. Perhaps Chegg or or another provider has it for less). You can get the 1992 edition for $17. I don’t know what you are sacrificing, however.

See also logical fallocies/logic


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