Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is Legal Writing?
Although "legal writing" sounds as if it concerns only writing, the course is an introduction to a range of basic lawyering skills that are essential to producing legal documents. The legal writing classes cover research, analysis, organization, reasoning, and oral presentation skills as well as the process of drafting and redrafting documents. In addition, they include discussion about ethical and other issues that come up in the practice of law.
2. How does the legal writing curriculum prepare me for law practice?
The legal writing courses focus on the kinds of documents you will be expected to produce as a practicing lawyer. The first year curriculum includes writing objective interoffice memos and persuasive trial and appellate court briefs and delivering appellate oral arguments.
3. Is Legal Writing a required course?
You are required to take seven units of legal writing in your first year -- four units in the first-semester and three units in the second semester. After that, you are required to complete an upper-level writing requirement, which may be satisfied in a course or in a variety of other settings.
4. How is Legal Writing graded?
Legal Writing is graded the same as all your other classes at Thomas Jefferson -- anonymously and using the same grading curve.
5. What should I look for in a legal writing curriculum?
A good legal writing program should be taught primarily by professors with a long-term commitment to teaching the class as well as extensive practice and teaching experience. Legal writing sections should have low student to professor ratios to allow for the kinds of one-on-one conferences, small group collaboration, and practical hands-on learning that should occur when you learn a new skill. A comprehensive legal writing curriculum fits together well and allows students to advance in their own interest areas.
6. How does Legal Writing fit in with the rest of my law school courses?
The first-year legal writing courses at Thomas Jefferson focus on the same analysis, reasoning, organization and writing skills that are needed in your other classes. Legal writing gives you many opportunities to practice and get feedback on those skills during your first year.