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"Writing" Down the House

Posted by on 08/18/2010 at 12:02 PM

Does Grammar Matter?

Welcome to “Writing” Down the House. In this, my first attempt at blogging, I want to offer a buffet menu of blog items related to writing: practical tips to improve your writing, as well as fun and interesting tidbits, such as court cases decided based on grammar and good/bad writing; interviews with musicians, poets, and novelists about their writing process; and maybe even some quotes by writers and a provocative poem. And I welcome your conversation about any of the blog entries.

The blog name derives from the 1983 musical hit “Burning Down the House” by the Talking Heads from their album Speaking in Tongues.

The album title is particularly apropos as you begin a new year at law school. New law students often feel as if their professors are speaking in a foreign language. And to some degree, they are. As you learn the language of the law, you will feel more able to engage confidently in the conversation.

One of the ways you will also feel more confident in the conversation about the law is to improve your writing skills. You are embarking on a career as a professional writer who specializes in the law. If you are asking yourself if grammar really matters in your study of the law, check out this recent United States Supreme Court case where grammar informs the Court’s reasoning. In Carr v. United States, a case about sex offender registration, the use of the present tense in the statute largely determines the outcome. The syllabus and the opinions are available online.