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Legal Research and Writing Program

The Legal Research and Writing Program (LRW) offers required and elective courses that teach students the basic techniques of legal research, writing, and analysis—essential tools of the lawyering profession. In the first year of law school, the full-time LRW faculty teach a required, year-long four credit course. Throughout the year, faculty work closely with students in smaller classroom settings introducing case briefing, case synthesis, and analysis through a series of research and writing assignments. Students learn how to research legal issues, frame legal arguments, and analyze legal problems. In addition to learning traditional research methods, students are also trained to use computer-assisted legal research including Lexis, Westlaw, and Bloomberg Law. This full-year course culminates in an oral argument in a simulated court setting, during which each student argues a motion based on a brief written by the student.

The LRW program also offers Advanced Lawyering Skills, an upper level two credit course in which students refine their writing skills by preparing an appellate brief and broaden their use of research materials, including legislative histories and regulatory law. 

Legal Research and Writing Course Descriptions

Lawyering Skills I
Lawyering Skills I is a required first-year course designed to introduce students to the essential problem-solving and communication skills of the legal profession. The legal research and writing faculty work closely with students in smaller classroom settings to introduce techniques of legal analysis, the basic sources and processes of legal research, and the principles of legal writing and oral advocacy. Through a series of assignments of increasing complexity, students learn how to analyze legal problems, research legal issues, frame legal arguments, and gain experience in drafting the major forms of predictive and persuasive legal writing. During the first semester, in Lawyering Skills I, students will be placed in the role of lawyer as advisor and counselor by focusing on predictive, advisory writing while learning other lawyering skills such as fact gathering and analysis, interviewing, and client counseling. Students will write legal memoranda, conduct interviews, draft professional emails and letters, and conduct office meetings, all in the context of completing practice based assignments. Students will receive individualized feedback throughout the semester. 

Lawyering Skills II
Lawyering Skills II is a required first-year course designed to introduce students to the essential problem-solving and communication skills of the legal profession. The legal research and writing faculty work closely with students in smaller classroom settings to introduce techniques of legal analysis, the basic sources and processes of legal research, and the principles of legal writing and oral advocacy. Through a series of assignments of increasing complexity, students learn how to analyze legal problems, research legal issues, frame legal arguments, and gain experience in drafting the major forms of predictive and persuasive legal writing. During the second semester, in Lawyering Skills II, students will focus on the role of lawyer as an advocate by focusing on persuasive writing and drafting. In this context, students will assume the role and professional obligations of a lawyer by drafting legal arguments and documents on behalf of clients. Students will write a trial brief and argue a dispositive motion in a trial court simulation. Students will continue to receive individualized feedback throughout the semester. 

Advanced Legal Research and Writing Course Description

Advanced Lawyering Skills
This course further develops and refines the research, analysis, citation, and writing skills introduced in the first-year Lawyering Skills course. With close supervision and guidance, students will be expected to develop their own research strategies using a wide range of research materials. The writing component of the course will consist of drafting an appellate brief and interrogatories.  Students will also examine, critique, and revise examples of typical written documents in law practice. The students will also present an oral argument based on the appellate briefs. The course will include peer assessment, self-editing, small group and individual conferences, and class presentations.

A number of additional upper level elective courses are offered for the continued development of student research and writing skills. Please go to course descriptions to view all course descriptions and offerings.