The Legal Writing Program
The small classes in the Legal Writing Program and our team of practitioner-professors provide an ideal opportunity to model professionalism and bring lessons from the "real world" practice of law into the law-school classroom. With leadership from the Program's three full-time faculty members, it also becomes a laboratory for innovative teaching techniques, including peer editing, live drafting, simulations and other experiential pedagogy, and metacognitive techniques. The small class size permits students to receive intensive written and live feedback from their professors.
We make it our mission to convey our passion not just for clear, concise legal writing, but also for the legal profession, and we strive to inculcate our students with a client-first mindset, a commitment to pro bono legal service, and the highest standards of diligence, competence, and candor. Despite our intimate scale, we offer a diverse array of required and elective legal-writing courses:
Legal Process, Analysis, and Writing
Our required legal-writing course, nicknamed "LPAW," spans both semesters of the first year and introduces students to the key analytical and communication skills every lawyer needs. Taught in sections of fewer than fifteen students, LPAW covers predictive writing, persuasive writing and advocacy, an introduction to oral argument, an introduction to contract drafting, an introduction to alternative dispute resolution, an introduction to fact gathering and client interviewing, and general professional communication. The final exam for the course mimics the Multistate Performance Test, and launches the students into their summer jobs and clerkships with an intensive, independent writing and analytical experience.
Advanced Legal Writing and Introduction to Appellate Advocacy
A popular upper-level, fall-semester elective, Advanced Legal Writing builds on the lessons from LPAW and translates them into the appellate setting. Students write appellate briefs and judicial opinions, receiving detailed written and in-person feedback from the professor. At the end of the semester, students participate in simulated appellate oral arguments before local practitioners and judges, sometimes in local appellate courtrooms.
Advanced Appellate Practice and Moot Court
This course, offered in the spring semester each year, offers students the opportunity to hone their oral advocacy skills while writing a full, federal appellate brief more or less independently. With guidance from professors, student mentors, and panels of appellate practitioners and judges, students learn some of the nuts and bolts of appellate practice. Much of the course focuses on building oral presentation skills, with multiple intensive oral-argument practices coached by the professors and by members of the Moot Court Board.
The course culminates in the annual Samuel M. Fegtly Moot Court Competition, in which students compete in at least two rounds of oral argument before local practitioners and judges, and vie for awards for brief-writing, oral advocacy, and all-around performance. The top scorers in the competition will be eligible to compete on the College of Law's American Bar Association National Appellate Advocacy Competition Team.
Moot Court Board
The Moot Court Board is composed of students who achieve top scores in the Samuel M. Fegtly Moot Court Competition. In this experiential course, Board members serve as coaches and mentors for the students in the Advanced Appellate Practice and Moot Court class and administer the Fegtly Competition.
Judicial Opinion Writing
Offered in the spring semester, this upper-level elective course focuses on the judicial opinion as a distinct genre of legal writing. Students learn about the process and ethics of judicial decision making and, using real records and case briefs, work collaboratively to analyze complex legal issues currently before the Arizona Court of Appeals. Students draft multiple appellate opinions over the course of the semester and receive intensive feedback from the professor.
The course focuses on contract-drafting skills and generally accepted drafting practices of transactional attorneys. It also explores the importance of those skills and the reasons behind those practices. All assignments for this class are drawn from and simulate real-world legal experience. Weekly reading assignments are substantive but minimal; this experiential course emphasizes hands-on contract drafting and revision. In fact, the goal of the course is to simulate the experience of a new transactional attorney in the workplace - an experience useful to any attorney and essential to those wishing to pursue a transactional law practice.
Writing Fellow Program
2L and 3L students who distinguish themselves as strong writers, thinkers, and mentors may be selected to serve as either Classroom Writing Fellows or Senior Writing Fellows. This experiential course implements the "see one, do one, teach one" model, with students learning and cementing key professional skills by helping to teach other students.
Classroom Writing Fellows serve as teaching assistants for the professors in the 1L LPAW course. These Fellows prepare and deliver instructional materials, provide written and in-person feedback on student drafts, and mentor 1L students. The Fellows not only learn by teaching, they also participate in periodic trainings with the Program Directors, where they receive instruction in learning theory, effective feedback techniques, supervisorial and management techniques, and advanced writing skills.
Senior Writing Fellows assist in curricular development, help develop classroom exercises and writing problems, and occasionally prepare and deliver presentations or provide feedback on student writing.
The Legal Writing Department seeks applications from interested and qualified students in October for the spring semester and in March for the following fall semester.
Further Opportunities to Improve Lawyering Skills
Arizona Law offers many other opportunities to hone legal-writing, advocacy, and other key lawyering skills. Our clinical and externship programs allow the students - in guided, real-life settings - to apply the lessons they have learned. Other opportunities abound, including our three scholarly publications - the Arizona Law Review, the Arizona Journal of International and Comparative Law, and the Journal of Environmental Law and Policy - various Legal Skills Competitions, and the required faculty-supervised substantial paper are just a few of the chances to hone these essential practice skills.