Law Center Writing Support Partnership with the UH Writing Center

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