The College of Professional Studies offers the following student organizations to enhance students’ participation in their fields of study. Our student organizations are focused on offering hands on experience. All students are welcome to join.
Richard “Rex” Thomas
Students from all disciplines have the opportunity to publish their work in a St. John’s University undergraduate journal, The Legal Apprentice.
The Legal Apprentice features articles about many topics, such as endangered species, ballot selfies and engagement rings. The journal was created by Mary Noe, J.D., Professor of Legal Studies. She continues as the editor. Undergraduate student-authors write relevant case summaries, research, and opinions that reflect their respective interests and backgrounds. “No legal training is required” Noe said, “this is about good writing, not legal knowledge.” The articles are interesting, informative, and well written. The Legal Apprentice welcomes articles from all St. John’s University students.
Articles are submitted to the Advisory Board and judged in a “blind review” process. Each issue contains a note on writing from an esteemed member of the legal profession. Past editions included Judges from the U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York such as Chief Judge Loretta A. Preska, Judge Deborah Batts, Judge P. Kevin Castel, Judge William H. Pauley III, from the Connecticut Superior Court, Judge John F. Blawie and from St. John’s University School of Law, Associate Dean Jeanne Ardan,.
Students interested in writing for The Legal Apprentice should contact Noe at [email protected].
Good Legal Writing Is Simply Good Writing: Words Of Welcome
Chief Judge Loretta A. Preska†
Justice Scalia, receiving a lifetime achievement award from the Scribes, The American Society of Legal Writers, surprised his audience by telling them “I do not believe that legal writing exists. . . .”1 He continued “Someone who is a good legal writer would, but for the need to master a different substantive subject, be an equivalently good writer of history, economics or, indeed, theology.”2 Put another way, good legal writing is simply good writing.
Observers of the game of basketball may point out that “You can’t coach height,” meaning that a player’s height is an immutable characteristic. But proficiency in writing is not a genetic trait. It is a skill learned over a lifetime. We evolve and improve with practice. More writing begets better writing. I see this with my own law clerks who become better writers over the course of a single year. Because it provides students with an opportunity to practice and perfect their writing skills, I applaud the creation of The Legal Apprentice. Professor Mary Noe, her faculty colleagues and the student competitors and authors have created a worthwhile showcase of fine writing.
The Court of which I am Chief Judge is no stranger to Professor Noe’s students. Since the fall of 2009, they have served as interns working in our Clerk’s Office assisting with important work. These students have also worked directly in the Chambers of four Judges of our Court. On behalf of the Court, I thank them for their valuable contributions. I close with the wish that The Legal Apprentice continues and thrives for many years to come.
† Chief Judge, United States District Court, Southern District of New York; B.A.,
The College of Saint Rose; J.D. Fordham University, School of Law; LL.M., New York
University, School of Law.
1 ABA Journal News, Scalia: Legal Writing Doesn’t Exist (posted Aug. 9, 2008)