Legal Research & Writing

Legal analysis, research, and writing skills are essential to success in law school, in summer work, and in the legal profession. Students must learn not only legal analysis and problem-solving skills, but also how to convey the results of their analysis orally and in writing. Our Legal Research and Writing I and II courses will help you to acquire these important practice skills by guiding you through the learning process step by step.

You will learn by doing. In your first year of law school, you will complete the same kinds of documents and perform many of the same tasks as practicing lawyers. For example, our students write legal memoranda and briefs, client letters and e-mails. They present their work in mock office conferences and argue before a moot court.

Our legal-writing professors use a variety of different teaching techniques, including lecture, demonstrations, simulations, class-wide discussion, small-group work, and interactive online learning tools. Students receive individual feedback on their work and meet in conference with their legal research and writing professor.

Legal Writing in the First Semester

In your first semester, the Legal Research & Writing I course focuses on the process of legal research and on predictive legal writing. You will learn how to meet the professional expectations of employers, clients, judges, and colleagues in various contexts.

You will learn effective research strategies, including the appropriate use of both electronic and print sources of legal information. You will learn to navigate the myriad choices and options in modern legal research and develop your legal judgment.

You will learn the core principles of writing for a legal audience, including how to structure, explain, and support a legal analysis. You will develop and polish your writing style and learn to edit for a busy, impatient legal reader. You also will learn to present your case orally to a supervisor in an office conference.

Legal Writing in the Second Semester

In your second semester, the Legal Research & Writing II course focuses on persuasive legal writing both at the trial and appellate levels, as well as on oral advocacy skills.

You will learn how to argue effectively on behalf of a client but still maintain integrity as an officer of the court. You will learn the techniques and strategies of advocacy by writing a persuasive trial-level motion brief and an appellate brief. You also may prepare shorter documents typical of law practice and discuss best practices for writing them. Finally, the course introduces students to basic principles of transactional drafting on behalf of a client.

In connection with your writing projects, you will refine your legal research skills in a variety of different subject areas and procedural contexts. The course covers some advanced legal research topics and reinforces foundational research skills in different media.

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