Rethinking the First Year Legal Writing Course

Commentators have urged schools to rethink the traditional first year legal writing course to focus more on lawyering skills and legal problem solving.  Some criticism has been levied against programs that are structured around artificial problems unlike those lawyers ever see. Southwestern Law School’s three-track legal writing program provides students with the opportunity to focus their legal writing experience by choosing one of three tracks.  Instead of having only an appellate advocacy experience, students can specialize in trial practice or negotiation.  The three legal writing tracks lead into three intramural honors program competitions for our Negotiation, Trial Advocacy (Mock Trial), and Appellate Advocacy (Moot Court) honors programs information here: <a href="; and <a href=";

“Our Legal Analysis, Writing and Skills (LAWS) course has always focused on providing students with a strong foundation in the basic skills of legal practice,” said Professor Tracy Turner, Director of the LAWS program. “However, until now, we have not had the opportunity to introduce first-year students to negotiation and trial skills. Students’ experiences in the first year can affect how they approach law school in their upper division years and the choices they consider for their careers. We hope that broadening their exposure to skills in the first year will open up new viewpoints and options for them.”

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