The discursive construction of professional expertise : Appeals to authority in barrister's opinions

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journal

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)131-143
Journal / PublicationEnglish for Specific Purposes
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2013


For novice professional writers, the development of professional expertise (including genre knowledge) involves a sometimes problematic transition from the world of the academy to the world of work. This study examines this transition in the context of vocational legal education at a law school in Hong Kong. The study adopts a multi-perspective approach to genre analysis and compares intertextual appeals to authority in novice and expert lawyers' writing of the barrister's opinion genre. Two main kinds of intertextual appeals to authority are identified: appeals to authority on law (i.e. on a legal basis), and appeals to authority on fact (i.e. on a factual basis). The comparative analysis reveals that, compared to their expert counterparts, novice lawyers tend to take a more 'academic' approach to their writing, overemphasizing the analysis of law and underemphasizing the practical analysis of facts. The paper concludes by considering the possible role of the academy in supporting the development of professional expertise in novice professional writers. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.

Research Area(s)

  • Intertextuality, Legal language, Legal literacy, Professional expertise, Professional practice