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“In The Thick Of It”

After turning in the Outline for Module 7, I was feeling much better about the paper. Everything was laid out like a map and I knew, for the most part, where I wanted to go and what I wanted to say. However, that didn’t always mean that the trip went smoothly. There were times, for example, when I actually sat down to write my paper that I didn’t feel that my sources were strong enough and/or didn’t quite substantiate my claim(s) the way that I wanted them to. In fact, I abandoned a great many sources from my initial M4 Non-Legal Resources assignment, and even one or two from my M5-6 Annotated Bibliography, in an effort to find sources that more clearly illustrated my point. Of course, this took much more time and effort --time and effort that I hadn’t budgeted for-- which put me behind schedule and was very stressful at times.

Being behind schedule and stressed also contributed to something else that I hadn’t anticipated: writer’s block. As an undergrad, I wrote a number of papers and the act and/or process is not particularly intimidating to me. However, writing a legal paper is unlike anything I’ve ever attempted. Claims made in a paper about one of Shakespear’s plays, for example, can be subjective, sometimes speculative; claims made in a legal paper, not as much. I was constantly under pressure to be as accurate as possible, whether in my claims, in my Bluebook citations, or even in my choice of words or phrasing. For me, there was so much more pressure in writing a paper that could potentially be viewed by legal scholars/students than there ever was in a paper written for English professors/students. As a result, I often wrote at a much slower pace than I wanted to, frequently stopping to verify my accuracy and, at a point or two during the paper, taking as much as four hours to produce a single paragraph.

Finally, I remember often second-guessing my decision to incorporate the “(Theme From) New York, New York” into my paper. I wasn’t sure if a legal research paper was allowed to have any personality (so to speak). However, I felt strongly that the song was almost like a soundtrack to my paper’s argument. There was not only the correlation between the song’s lyrical claim that New York is where one goes to become “[a] number one” and the State’s claim that the new policy is “nation-leading,” but the history of the song itself also speaks to my subject matter in surprising and interesting ways. In the end, I am mostly pleased with the result and may even look to expand the connection in a future revision of my paper.

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