To the New Law Student,
On behalf of the Writing Center's Executive Director, Dr. Marjorie Chadwick, I want to welcome you
to our partnership with the UH Law Center. I've been with this project since it began in the summer of
2003, and have been involved in designing all of its components. I can assure you that our highest
priority on this project has always been supporting your transition into writing in the legal
discipline, and that both the Law Center and the Writing Center are dedicating substantial resources
to your individual success. I would like to review with you the way the assessments were rated and how
the rating reflects priority concerns for legal writing.
Before you ever wrote a word, we worked extensively with your Legal Analysis, Research, and
Communication (LARC) faculty to develop the writing assignments and the basis for evaluation, and our
criteria reflect a synthesis of current practice in composition instruction and legal writing. As you
will see in the rubrics used to rate the samples, we considered both "writing-is-thinking" aspects of
development (Purpose, Elaboration) and formal traits of the writing (Shape/Power/Emphasis,
Clarity/Economy). We also rated each sample holistically, on its overall impression and effect.
In rating your writing samples, we used a variety of practices to ensure that the ratings were fair,
accurate, and reliable, as well as to maintain the anonymity of the writers. The raters were trained
and tested in the application of the rubric of standards before they rated any samples. Each sample
was rated twice, by different raters, and if any of their scores differed by two or more points
(on a six-point scale), the sample was read by a third rater; these were all independent ratings,
with raters unaware of what others had scored the sample. We also had Law Center faculty and
administrators rate selected samples to confirm the scale of our standards. As a result of this
rigorous and deliberate process, we have identified the writing that presented evidence of the
writer's needing additional instruction.
Based on our previous experience, and in light of the evidence from the writing samples, I am
confident that we can work together successfully to help you tackle the demanding work of writing in
legal contexts. We have identified a work plan for each of you individually to complete with the able
assistance of your Writing Consultant. At the completion of the exercises on your work plan, you may
choose to take an exit exam; if you successfully complete the exit exam, you can consider yourself
exempt from any more required tutorials. You may, alternatively, choose to continue working with your
Writing Consultant on a mutually-agreed-upon schedule that best meets your needs. We want you to
consider yourself always welcome at the Writing Center.
Your starting point for the administrative and logistical details of scheduling your meetings can be
found on this website, under the "Schedule Appointments" section on the Writing Center homepage. Read through the
instructions and policies, register with the WC Online scheduling system, and book your appointment.
I hope I'll get a chance to meet you in person and welcome you to the Writing Center .
Writing Is Thinking,
Steven P. Liparulo , Ph. D.
Program Director, Pedagogy and Instructional Design
University of Houston Writing Center
217 Agnes Arnold Hall