A variety of skills are needed to practice law effectively. Perhaps none is more important than the ability to write. Dernbach has authored or coauthored three different books for law students on legal writing.
- Writing Essay Exams to Succeed in Law School (Not Just to Survive), (Wolters Kluwer/Aspen, 4th Ed., 2014). Exam writing in law school is a challenging and often feared experience for law students. But it is more than that. A law student’s grades have a considerable effect on his or her job opportunities. This easy-to-read 111 page book demystifies the exam writing process, and has helped thousands of students get better grades.
- A Practical Guide to Legal Writing and Legal Method, (Wolters Kluwer, 6th ed., 2017) (with Richard V. Singleton II, Cathleen S. Wharton, Catherine J. Wasson, and Joan M. Ruhtenberg). In 1981, John Dernbach and Richard Singleton first published A Practical Guide to Legal Writing and Legal Method, a text for first-year law students. Their idea was to combine writing with “thinking like a lawyer” in a text that divided the task into discrete steps. Each step is explained, illustrated with good and bad examples, and then applied by students in discrete exercises. This book, whose effective teaching method has been widely used and imitated, is now considered a classic in the field.
- Legal Drafting (Aspen 1994), (with Susan L. Brody et al.). Legal drafting is an important skill in law practice, whether it be estate planning, pleading, contracts, or legislation. Using his long experience drafting legislation and regulations in Pennsylvania, Dernbach contributed the legislative drafting chapter to this book. "This dynamic paperback text presents a highly effective, classroom-tested process for legal drafting. Prepared with this practical strategy, students will move beyond merely filling in the blanks to create the customized documents clients need, and adapt preexisting forms to new uses." –Aspen Publishers