Article Title

Genre Discovery 2.0


Ten years ago, I proposed the “genre discovery approach” for teaching new legal writers how to write any legal document, even ones they had never encountered before. Using the genre discovery approach, a writer studies samples of a genre to identify the genre’s conventions so that they can write the genre. From the seed of Genre Discovery 1.0, the approach’s potential has blossomed into a robust pedagogical system: Genre Discovery 2.0. Genre Discovery 2.0 is more effective than Genre Discovery 1.0 because it more explicitly integrates metacognition into its pedagogy.

Metacognition, “the concept that individuals can monitor and regulate their own cognitive processes and thereby improve the quality and effectiveness of their thinking,” is not innate—it must be taught. The legal writing professoriate has embraced metacognition to teach our students to be conscious of their learning. Some legal writing professors have contributed strategies for teaching metacognition to law students. Most current metacognitive teaching strategies include overlays atop an underlying assignment. In other words, these strategies require two steps to teach metacognition: the underlying task itself and then the separate metacognitive task that overlays the main task. This learning process is inefficient because it requires multiple steps. It is also less effective because the metacognitive activity is divorced from the underlying assignment, requiring students to make a cognitive leap from one assignment to the other. The push for metacognition in legal education has come from the upper levels of legal education reform. This article shows that metacognition is the best way to prepare our students to be practice ready.

This article argues that Genre Discovery 2.0 is the ideal way to teach legal research and writing to new legal writers because it integrates metacognition into its pedagogy rather than teaching metacognition as a separate overlay. By integrating metacognition, Genre Discovery 2.0 fulfills the promise of its predecessor by giving new legal writers the skills they need to not only learn how to write in law school but to learn how they learn and how to be lifelong learners.