The Legal Research & Writing Program

Our legal writing curriculum reflects the Law School's strong commitment to helping every student learn essential lawyering skills. The Legal Research and Writing Program offers courses in legal research, analysis, and writing for students at all levels.

Students gain intensive legal research and writing experience in their first year of law school at Wisconsin. They learn to research the law in both traditional and electronic formats and to prepare a variety of legal documents typical of law practice. Upper-level students have a variety of choices for advanced legal writing instruction in seminars, clinics, doctrinal courses, and specialized research and writing courses.  

Legal Research and Writing in the First Semester

Legal Research and Writing in the Second Semester

News & Announcements

1.  Professor Andrew Turner will teach principles of transactional drafting to 60 junior and senior Legal Studies majors as part of the Law School's “Law in Action” course this spring. This year’s focus will be topics related to the 2016 elections. In the first week, students will learn the differences between transactional and litigation practice and use real-world examples to learn the basic principles of contract drafting. During the second week, students will use what they’ve learned to negotiate and draft clauses in a debate agreement between two fictional presidential candidates. They will also represent fictional countries in renegotiating and redrafting provisions of the Trans-Pacific Partnership.  

2.  Professor Kim Peterson, who also directs the Law School's Mock Trial Program, will serve as director of the regional TYLA mock trial competition  in Madison from Feb. 19-21, 2016.  In addition to planning complex logistics and hosting the competition teams, Professor Peterson has recruited a slate of outstanding competition judges. She also is working with the University's Department of Theatre, which will provide student actors to portray witnesses during the competition. 

3.  Joseph S. Diedrich has won the 2015 Best Brief Competition sponsored by the Legal Research and Writing Program.  The Best Brief Competition is an annual event to recognize outstanding legal writing by first-year students.  The Legal Research and Writing faculty select the best appellate briefs from among those written by their spring semester Legal Research and Writing II students.  Next, Wisconsin attorneys evaluate the semi-finalists' briefs to determine who will become finalists.  A panel of Law School faculty then independently evaluates the finalists' briefs to determine the winner.  Other finalists in the 2015 Best Brief Competition were Shannon Lins and Jessica Schultz.

4.   Professor Trina Tinglum spoke to the Madison Area Paralegal Association in October 2015 on ways to improve professionalism and legal writing skills. She discussed current trends and rules in legal writing.  

5.   Professor Kim Peterson participated in UW Madison's Do-it Academy, which hosted a Research-to-Classroom Workshop about web-based hypermedia. Professor Peterson spoke about: "Using the Critical Reader Tool to Enhance Student Learning." The tool can help students read complex material in more depth, as well as improve their writing.

6.  There's over $25,000 in prize money available to student writers for currently posted writing competitions. Check out the Writing Competitions link!


Resources & Links

General Writing & Citation Resources

Writing Competitions



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