Course - Law


Recommended Courses:



This course will (1) give students a broad, introductory overview of the American legal system, (2) introduce students to various types of legal writing, and (3) help students to develop the analytic, research, and writing skills necessary to communicate legal issues and arguments to a variety of audiences.  This course will:



·         help students to develop and key lawyering skills, such as case and statutory analysis, recognizing distinctions between holding and dicta, and understanding the role of precedent and hierarchy of authority;



·         build skills in analogical reasoning and synthesis of a legal rule from multiple sources;



·         teach students to identify purpose, audience, and context for each document;            



·         teach fundamental principles of organizing written legal analysis;



·         help students to learn, apply, and master basic legal-writing conventions, legal research, legal citation, and oral argument;



·         supplement students’ existing knowledge and hone their abilities in composition, grammar, style, punctuation, and other fundamental writing skills;



·         introduce students to key rhetorical concepts and theories of persuasion;


     Introduce students to the basics of courtroom oral advocacy; and


·         prepare students for upper-level legal communication courses.



The first semester will convey basic skills in legal analysis and in the expression of that analysis through predictive writing and oral communication.  The second semester will build on these skills while introducing persuasive writing and oral argument.



Primary texts:

Richard K. Neumann, Jr., Legal Reasoning and Legal Writing:  Structure, Strategy and Style (6th  ed., Wolters Kluwer Law & Business 2009) (used both Fall and Spring);


Laurel Currie Oates, Anne Enquist & Connie Krontz, Just Briefs (2d ed. Aspen Publishers, 2008) (Spring only).


Other required texts include:


ALWD & Darby Dickerson, ALWD Citation Manual (4th ed., Aspen Publishers).


Tracy L. McGaugh & Christine Hurt, Interactive Citation Workbook for the ALWD Citation Manual (2021 ed).


Bryan A. Garner, The Redbook: A Manual on Legal Style (2d ed. West 2006).


Suggested texts include:


Mignon Fogarty, Grammar Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing (Henry Holt & Co. 2008 )


Bryan A. Garner, The Winning Brief (Oxford University Press 2003) [for the second semester]


The Bluebook:  A Uniform System of Citation (Columbia Law Review Ass’n 19th ed. 2010). [for second semester]

Course Format

The class will be taught by the Director, the Assistant Director, and adjunct writing faculty.  Research librarians will teach a research component, which will be separate from but complementary to and synergistic with the legal process, analysis, and writing component.

Written Assignments

Students will receive both in-class and out-of-class assignments.  In-class assignments – which will be discussed in class and on which students will receive written feedback from the writing fellow and/or the professor – might include drafting a declaration after a client interview, reworking portions of an argument section from an out-of-class assignment, formulating an issue statement or question presented, completing exercises from the primary writing text or supplemental texts, drafting professional email correspondence conveying legal advice or analysis, or formulating effective argumentative headings.  Out-of-class assignments might include a case brief, a client letter, a demand letter, an office memorandum, a memorandum of points and authorities in support of a trial-court motion, a settlement memorandum, or a written analysis and critique of oral arguments.  Students will learn the basic structure of a number of types of legal documents – including legal memoranda, trial-level motions, and contracts – either by drafting such documents themselves or by exposure to samples of such documents in the course of working through legal problems in or outside of class.  Students will have the opportunity to re-write many of the out-of-class assignments and will meet one-on-one with the writing professor at least once each semester for an intensive constructive critique of an out-of-class writing assignment. 


Students will also participate in exercises designed to build effective oral communication skills, including oral arguments on the trial-court motion, a negotiation or mediation exercise, and periodic in-class oral communication exercises. 


Type of Exam

Take-home, closed-research exam.

Basis for grading

Students will be graded on designated out-of-class assignments, including an open-research trial-level motion and a take-home final exam.  Not every assignment will be graded.  A portion of the grade will also be based on performance in oral argument exercises and participation in in-class activities.

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