Our top-ranked Legal Writing Program is an integral part of the law school.
Our new first-year course, Legal Writing, Skills, & Values, was developed as a joint effort among the Legal Writing faculty, the Clinical and Externship faculty, the professional librarians, the Center for Professional Development, and the Access to Justice Institute. Beyond planning the course, clinicians, librarians, and representatives from the career center come to first-year classes to meet with students and to guest lecture. This collaborative effort resulted in a course that prepares students for their upper-division experiential courses, including clinics and externships, as well as for the "real world" beyond law school.
During the first year of law school, students participate in the Real Clients in the First Year program, which allows them to work on complex issues from real cases either for our clinic, one of our centers, or one of our community nonprofit partners. Our partners use the student work in support of litigation, lobbying, and regulatory changes on a variety of social justice issues.
Additionally, our clinical faculty work closely with our legal writing faculty to ensure that the clinical and externship courses that students take in their second and third years of law school build on the foundation created by our legal writing program. Our legal writing faculty guest lecture in classes like our judicial externship seminar, and we coordinate readings and exercises so that students can apply what they learned in legal writing to their experiential learning classes later in law school. Our law clinic is ranked in the top 20 by U.S. News & World Report.
Integration with Alumni and the Community
In the first-year class, many Legal Writing professors ask recent alumni who are engaged in different areas of the law to come to class to reflect on their own law school experiences and their paths since law school.
The second-year course, Legal Writing II, which focuses on persuasive writing and oral advocacy, culminates in an appellate oral argument. The judges for that argument are local practitioners and judges, many of whom are our alumni.
Students who receive a B+ or higher on their appellate briefs are automatically eligible to participate in either the Tausend or Bond Moot Court Competition (depending on the semester the student takes Legal Writing II). The top participants in these competitions, which are run jointly with the Moot Court Board, have opportunities to compete at the national level.