The effect of integration on learning: An analysis and evaluation of a legal writing project in a South African Law Faculty

  • Toni Gottlieb University of Cape Town
  • Lesley Anne Greenbaum University of Cape Town


This article analyses the implementation and evaluation of a first-year legal writing programme which, over a period of three years, was increasingly integrated into the law curriculum of two first-year courses with a concomitant improvement in students’ assignment marks, as well as in their and their tutors’ perceptions of their learning. It argues that an increasingly integrated approach improves the legal reasoning and writing abilities expected of a first-year law student. The course design focused on the genres required in the law degree along with the underlying cognitive skills of analysis, synthesis, application, evaluation and argument necessary for legal reasoning. Students were required to submit four writing tasks to trained final-year student writing tutors who provided extensive personalised feedback. These ungraded tasks served to scaffold students’ subsequent submissions of coursework assignments. External evaluations of the project each year facilitated reflection and informed changes made to the project design. The conclusion drawn is that a particular type of integration that is achieved through ‘insider-outsider’ collaboration between an academic literacy expert and a law academic may be most effective in achieving the desired outcomes.


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Author Biographies

Toni Gottlieb, University of Cape Town
Toni Gottlieb has taught legal writing to first-year Law students at the University of Cape Town, to pupils at the Johannesburg Bar, and to Candidate Attorneys at Bowmans law firm in Cape Town. She has also taught English for Academic and Specific Purposes at the University of Johannesburg.
Lesley Anne Greenbaum, University of Cape Town
Lesley Greenbaum is an Associate Professor in the Department of Private Law at UCT. Her research interests are legal education, the law curriculum and legal writing. She is the convenor of the Legal Writing Project for first year law students.