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Many legal writing programs evaluate a student's performance based on a series of assignments that students write and then rewrite after receiving comments from their legal writing teacher. Over the last decade, some have proposed altering this model by introducing the Multistate Performance Test into the legal writing curriculum or by using traditional objective examinations in first-year legal writing courses.

Based on a three-year experience at Santa Clara University School of Law, this essay suggests that using these principles, those of performance testing and traditional examinations, in a slightly modified form can reap significant benefits for legal writing programs. In part II, this essay explains what this modified concept looks like and how it works, explains how it differs from what many other law schools do, and explains what motivated the Santa Clara legal writing program to try this altemative. In part III, this essay identifies the numerous benefits that may come from adopting this idea for evaluating student writing. As this essay will illustrate, these benefits were far greater and far more extensive than were anticipated. In part IV, this essay examines student and teacher reactions to using the kind of assignments described here.



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