About The Road to Legal Practice

This interactive ebook has been available since 2007 and is currently in its fifth edition. It is designed to provide a low-cost and interactive tool for teaching and learning legal practice and is used throughout the country in first-year and upper-class legal research and writing courses. This book was written by Diana R. Donahoe, law professor at Georgetown University Law Center who began teaching in 1993; she sought to create a book that actively engages students in and out of the classroom, provides material beyond their first-year course, and does not add to their debt.

The content spans material you will find in three separate traditional legal practice books: Legal Research, Legal Writing, and Grammar and Citation. In addition, it contains online interactivity to engage students in active learning.

Legal Research

Research Sources provides students with an introduction to legal sources and the research process and teaches students to brief cases for class and for research. It provides an explanation and description of primary law and secondary sources, along with direct links to federal and state law. It also teaches students about secondary sources and provides strategies, samples, and links to these sources.

Research Strategies focuses students on the various strategies available to find the law efficiently and effectively. It provides general research strategies, such as note taking, crafting search terms, and using filters, as well as specific directions and up-to-date information on Westlaw, Lexis, Bloomberg Law, and free sources. (These sections are updated every year to account for upgrades on the platforms.) In addition, it covers strategies for researching specific types of law, including statutes, cases, regulations, legislative history, as well as searching dockets and finding forms for procedural and transactional documents and information on judges, lawyers, companies, and law firms.

Legal Writing

Legal Documents explains the various types of traditional legal documents written by lawyers, such as memos, briefs, emails, client letters. It provides an explanation of the formal requirements for each document, specific examples of those requirements, and annotated samples of each document. This section also provides chapters on contract drafting, demand letters, pleadings and motions, and other types of writing such as law school exams and scholarly writing and journal notes. Students can use this chapter for courses beyond legal practice and many report using these sections during externships, internships, and summer jobs.

Legal Analysis explains the concept of legal rhetoric and jurisprudence and teaches students to create logical, legal analysis through statutory interpretation, case analysis, and policy arguments. It focuses students on the importance of large-scale organizational concepts, the synthesis and fronting of legal rules, and various forms of rule explanation and analysis through a variety of legal formulas, such as IRAC, CREAC, etc, with an emphasis on flexibility and creativity. It is peppered with samples and tricks to help novice writers understand these concepts.

Writing Process focuses students on the importance of developing an efficient and effective writing process and helps with strategies along the way. For example, it covers managing your time and overcoming writer’s block in the writing process; developing strategies to step into the reader’s shoes during the rewriting process by focusing on large-scale organization, analysis, content, and conciseness issues through a step by step process; and focusing students on revising the sentence structure level and word choice.

Legal Grammar and Citation

Legal Grammar provides students with strategies for polishing documents to ensure correct grammar. It provides grammar and legal usage rules, as well as quizzes and a self-assessment so that students can learn their grammar strengths and weaknesses in an interactive environment.

Legal Citation covers both the Bluebook and the ALWD Manual. Each section provides information of the purpose and design of these manuals and then provides rules, examples, and explanations for those rules. It provides quizzes and self-assessments so that students can learn legal citation in an interactive environment. These sections are updated with each manual’s new edition.


All of the sections mentioned above link directly to various interactive material, including quizzes and self-assessments, study aids, exercises and tutorials, and helpful videos of students, librarians, and lawyers providing advice and strategies. In addition, a separate section, Student Tools & Tests, provides students with handy research maps, which are linked directly to federal and state courts as well as primary law, practice tests, and a glossary of helpful terms.

Throughout the text of the book, students can also link to sample documents, explanations of concepts, and more information on certain subjects. In addition, the book links directly to helpful websites, such as federal and state courts, free state codes, the Supreme Court website, and Oyez, Oyez as well as other helpful legal websites.

Icons are used for much of the interactivity peppered throughout the book:

  • More Information
  • Sample Pages
  • Exercise
  • Quiz