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Over the past several decades, the student population at law schools across the country has become more and more racially diverse. In 1987, for example, only about 1 in every 10 law students identified as a person of color; by 2019, that percentage shot up to almost 1 out of 3.

Yet take a look at virtually any collection of recommended manuals on writing. You are unlikely to find even one that is authored by a person of color. The composition of law schools may be dramatically changing, but the materials that students are given to help them figure out how to put together documents that are proper, persuasive, and professional are designed pretty much exclusively by white people. “To write right,” we seem to be saying, “you need to write white.”

This essay describes an in-class exercise that was used to highlight that bias. It also shares an out-of-class assignment that successfully pushed students to broaden their mental library of exemplars.


© 2022 by Scribes. Originally published as Barry, Patrick. "Elephant in the Room." Scribe Journal of Legal Writing 20 (2022): 145-156.