Strong legal research and writing skills are essential for every successful lawyer. In recognition of these vital skills, the School of Law has created an intensive writing program taught by experienced lawyers that will provide you with critical instruction in the areas of legal research, legal analysis, and legal writing. This will help distinguish you on your path to a successful career in the law or other related field.
Real-world, problem-solving setting
As a first-year law student, you will be enrolled in a five credit-hour, year-long Legal Analysis, Research and Writing course (LARW). In addition to basic legal research skills, you will learn the fundamentals of legal analysis, including the process by which lawyers integrate various legal authorities to form a comprehensive legal discussion on a particular issue. You will learn the appropriate structure and organization for a piece of legal writing. You will learn these skills in a real-world, problem-solving context, in which you will address a legal question posed by a hypothetical client.
Develop your advocacy skills
In the second semester, the focus of the course shifts to persuasive writing. You will learn the various techniques lawyers use to effectively advocate on behalf of a client. This course involves an in-depth review of a more complex legal issue and culminates in the writing of a litigation brief. In addition to the writing requirements, the course provides an opportunity for you to argue your client’s case in “open court,” held in the law school’s moot courtrooms. Even if you do not anticipate serving the community as a trial attorney, learning how to effectively advocate is useful in any situation.
Experienced and innovative professors
Our first-year LARW course is structured to maximize learning, with smaller class sizes and multiple opportunities for personal interaction with your professor. Your LARW professor will give you detailed written feedback on each of your writing assignments. You also will have several individual conferences with your professor to discuss your work.
Our writing program is staffed with full-time professors who have decades of combined experience across a variety of professional settings, including litigation and trial, in-house corporate, judicial clerkship, and academic positions. Our legal writing professors are published authors and have presented at conferences sponsored by the Legal Writing Institute, the Association of Legal Writing Directors and numerous other regional and national legal writing conferences.
Skill refinement beyond the first year
In addition to LARW, you will have the opportunity to satisfy an upper-level writing requirement. Upper-level writing courses allow you to refine your legal writing skills and further prepare for the actual practice of law. You may select from a wide variety of courses, including law office communications, judicial opinion writing, civil litigation motion practice, contract drafting, drafting estate planning documents, and intellectual property drafting. This advanced writing course will reinforce the skills learned in LARW while expanding your knowledge of the relevant issues to be considered when drafting specific legal documents.
Finally, as a requirement to graduate, all students must write a paper that addresses a particular legal issue in great depth. This General Writing Requirement (GWR) may be completed as part of your work in an upper-level substantive course that is of interest to you.