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.  This fall, Professor Margaret Baumgartner is teaching two sections of the three-credit Legal Sources course.  Students in Legal Sources are enrolled in the one-year Master of Laws-Legal Institutions degree program, and they already have law degrees from universities outside the United States.

Professor Baumgartner revised the course curriculum over the summer, focusing on providing more opportunities for students to write about legal issues and on increasing students' exposure to U.S. legal research sources and strategies.

Also, one of Professor Baumgartner's spring 2016 first-year students won the Best Brief Competition.  Professor Baumgartner's students have won the competition seven times.

2.  Winner of the 2016 Best Brief Competition

Laura E. Schroeder is the winner of the 2016 Best Brief Competition sponsored by the Legal Research and Writing Program.  Jonathon Davies is the runner-up in the competition.  Other finalists are Claire Dennis, Dustin Page, and Chelsea Wilfong.  Congratulations to these great legal writers!

The Best Brief Competition is an annual event that recognizes 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 students.  Next, Wisconsin attorneys evaluate the semi-finalists' briefs to determine who will become finalists.  A panel of Law School faculty then evaluates the finalists' briefs to decide the winner. 

3.  Professors Sarah Hadjimarkos, Kim Peterson, Andrew Turner, and Ursula Weigold taught in the Law School's James E. Jones, Jr. Pre-Law Scholars Program during June 2016.  

4.   Professor Andrew Turner taught 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 was on topics related to the 2016 elections.   

5.  Professor Kim Peterson, who also directs the Law School's Mock Trial Program, served 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 recruited a slate of outstanding competition judges. She also worked with the University's Department of Theatre, which provided student actors to portray witnesses during the competition. 

6.   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.  

7.   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.

Resources & Links

General Writing & Citation Resources

Writing Competitions

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