Rather than viewing writing as the subsequent and final step to thinking, law students should understand thinking and writing as two parts of the same recursive process. Generally speaking, the human mind does not think linearly; it jumps from idea to idea in attempts to consider, correlate, and, ultimately, conclude. Writing, on the other hand, allows people to identify, clarify, condense, arrange, and present their ideas and conclusions in the manner most conducive to achieving the text’s purpose. Yet, just as people consistently return to their thoughts to add to and refine them, law students should also consistently return to their writing for the same reasons. Often, the act of writing begins not with a clear expression of thoughts and conclusions, but with the concretization of our ideas in words. That concretization, then, provides writers with the opportunity to reconsider and manipulate their ideas and their arrangements more tangibly than is possible with ideas in the mind. Authors often fail to realize that although they can follow the synaptic leaps of their own minds, their readers cannot and should not be required to make those same connections for themselves. Concretizing ideas by writing them allows authors to identify, clarify, condense, arrange, and present their thoughts not only for themselves, but also their readers. As writers, therefore, we must work to conflate thinking with writing while also constantly returning to and reevaluating that relationship because it is our writing—and not our minds—that we share with our audiences.
As the full-time, in-house Writing Specialist for Roger Williams University School of Law, I provide assistance to students, staff, and faculty with any writing project, and at stage of that project.
Specifically, as the Writing Specialist, I can diagnose areas in your writing that could use attention; help improve your understanding and employment of grammar, punctuation, and usage; and aid in interpreting assignments, creating an outline, generating content, and organizing, revising, editing, and proof-reading that content. Potential projects for which you might seek my assistance might include, but are not limited to: briefs, memos, notes, cover letters, writing samples, or articles for publication. Additionally, I will offer occasional workshops on topics in both writing and rhetoric, and am also available upon request to make specific presentations for individual classes, groups, and societies.
I encourage you to involve me in your writing process as early as possible. You need not have anything written to meet with me; in fact, including me in your pre-writing process will often eliminate unnecessary rewriting. Also recognize that I tend to get very busy as due dates approach. I encourage you, therefore, to use forethought and attempt to schedule your appointments well in advance of their submission dates. I schedule meetings on a first-come, first-served basis, but will prioritize direct referrals from faculty, 1Ls, and those without previous last-minute cancelations (in that order).
To schedule an appointment, email me at email@example.com with a small range of days and times on those days when you are available. Please allow and schedule for a response from me within twenty-four hours during the work week, and forty-eight hours over the weekend. During that time, I will compare your schedule with mine, and will respond with a proposed meeting day and time. We can then fine-tune that appointment in subsequent emails if necessary. I only offer in-person meetings unless you cannot make it to campus. In the latter situation, please schedule an appointment anyway and let me know it is for a submission. You also need not submit your work to me prior to our meeting unless it is a submission because you cannot make it to campus; I prefer and have found much better results when you and I look over your assignment together. I schedule all my appointments for the top of the hour, and I will allot as much of that hour as is necessary to the appointment. Should you find my schedule full on any given day, though, I welcome you to stop by my office around thirty or forty-five minutes past the hour to see if my appointment ended early. If I am available, I will meet with you until my next scheduled appointment. Lastly, please try to provide twenty-four hours’ notice of cancellation.
Thank you, and I look forward to working with you,
Justin Kishbaugh, M.F.A., Ph.D.