The only tool of the lawyer is words… Whether we are trying a case, writing a brief, drafting a contract, or negotiating with an adversary, words are the only things we have to work with. Charles Alan Wright, Foreward to Bryan A. Garner, The Elements of Legal Style (1993).
Marquette University Law School's nationally recognized legal writing (LAWR) program offers a rigorous writing experience that fully prepares students for law practice.
Each semester, at least six full-time faculty members, all of whom have practiced law, devote themselves to teaching the required three-credit courses that span students' first two semesters of law school. Both Legal Analysis, Writing & Research 1 and 2 have these distinctive features, designed for optimal learning:
- small class sizes that allow individualized, personal attention;
- intensive, practical writing experiences;
- individual faculty conferences;
- extensive faculty feedback on written assignments;
- academic support from select second- or third-year students who work closely with professors; and
- access to a writing specialist on recommendation from the professor.
Once students have completed both first-year required courses in legal analysis, writing, and research, they have opportunities to further develop their skills in a number of ways. They can enroll in seminars in advanced legal writing and workshops in contract drafting. They can also enroll in the appellate writing and advocacy course that serves as the gateway to Marquette Law's moot court competitions. Finally, they have the opportunity to serve on editorial boards for various journals. All of these experiences enhance students' legal education no matter what field of law they choose to pursue.
To further solidify students' research and writing skills, they also are required to take an advanced legal research (ALR) course on a topic of their choice taught by a Marquette Law librarian. ALR topics cover a variety of practice areas. Business and taxation, family law, federal law, sports law, Wisconsin law, and intellectual property are just some of the offerings available.
Marquette Law legal writing faculty, partnered with law librarians, ensure that all Marquette Law students graduate with solid analysis, writing, and research skills.
Six full-time faculty members, all of whom have practiced law, teach Legal Analysis, Writing & Research 1 and 2. To further enrich the writing curriculum, each legal writing faculty member also teaches courses in the upper-level curriculum on a rotating basis.
In 2008, the Law School announced the Boden Visiting Professor of Law program. Since fall 2008, a distinguished national scholar in legal writing has joined the Law faculty to teach a section of the first-semester, first-year Legal Analysis, Writing & Research 1 course as well as a course of his or her choice. In fall 2010, the Law School welcomed Mary Beth Beazley, director of legal writing at The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law as the Boden Visiting Professor of Law. Professor Beazley authored A Practical Guide to Appellate Advocacy.
Previous Boden Visiting professors included, in fall 2008, Robin Wellford Slocum of Chapman University Law School, and, in fall 2009, Michael R. Smith, Winston S. Howard Distinguished Professor of Law and Director of the Legal Writing Program at the University of Wyoming College of Law. Professor Slocum has authored two textbooks on legal writing: Legal Analysis and Writing and Legal Reasoning, Writing, and Persuasive Argument. Professor Smith is the author of Advanced Legal Writing: Theories and Strategies in Persuasive Writing.
Full-time faculty members include:
Susan Bay, associate professor of legal writing
Jacob Carpenter, assistant professor of legal writing
Rebecca Blemberg, associate professor of legal writing
Melissa Greipp, associate professor of legal writing
Alison Julien, professor of legal writing
Lisa A. Mazzie, associate professor of legal writing
Marquette Law's legal writing faculty are involved in regional and national legal writing organizations and committees and often present at local, regional, and national legal writing conferences on legal writing-related topics. From time to time, they contribute writing columns to Wisconsin Lawyer, the official publication of the State Bar of Wisconsin.
Writing Specialist Dr. Darek Ciemniewski joined the LAWR program in 2008. Dr. Ciemniewski works one-on-one with students to improve their basic writing skills.
In addition, each full-time LAWR professor utilizes one or more academic success persons (ASP), second- or third-year law students who performed well in LAWR. These ASP leaders also work one-on-one with students regarding specific legal writing or citation issues.
The cornerstone courses in the legal writing program are the first-year courses, Legal Analysis, Writing, & Research 1 and 2. Each fall, in Legal Analysis, Writing, & Research 1, first-year students are introduced to the fundamental skills required in law practice: researching the law, analyzing how the law applies, and writing that analysis in an objective format. Students typically work through at least two problem sets requiring them to analyze the law and apply it to hypothetical client situations. Professors provide extensive written and oral feedback on student drafts, and students revise their drafts based on that feedback. Students also learn how to use proper legal citation and gain insight into the ethical dilemmas that lawyers may face when researching and writing memoranda.
Legal Analysis, Writing, & Research 2 builds on the skills students learned in the fall semester. In the spring semester, students shift from objective writing to persuasive writing. They also begin to implement the research skills they learned in the fall and do their own legal research. As in the fall, students typically work through at least two problem sets that require them to independently research the law, analyze it, and apply it to hypothetical client situations. Students learn to present that analysis in the form of a trial-level brief. Once again, students receive extensive written and oral feedback and an opportunity to rewrite their initial drafts. The switch to persuasive writing often presents for students ethical issues regarding a lawyer's role as zealous advocate. These issues, too, are covered in class.
Appellate Writing and Advocacy is the gateway course for the law school's moot court program.
In addition, second- or third-year students can enroll in various writing seminars and workshops to further develop their legal writing skills. Such offerings have included Advanced Legal Writing, Contract Drafting, and Exploring and Writing About Legal Issues in Depth.
Writing competitions allow students to hone their legal writing skills, build their portfolios, and possibly win cash prizes. Click here for a complete list of writing competitions.
The Legal Writing Society is a student organization whose goal is to improve students' legal writing comprehension by fostering an environment outside of the classroom that will expose them to the various types of legal documents that they will encounter in legal internships and in practice. It sponsors occasional speakers on legal writing topics.
The Legal Writing Society hosts a writing competition that offers cash prizes. Past competition tasks have included drafting a client letter and revising/rewriting statutory language.
Marquette University Law School students have many opportunities to participate in moot court.
First, students interested in moot court have the chance to hone their briefing writing and oral argument skills in the Appellate Writing and Advocacy course, offered to second- and third-year students in the fall semester.
The course teaches students about how to handle an appeal from start to finish. Students in the course review a mock record, develop and research legal arguments, write briefs, and present oral arguments. Completion of the Appellate Writing and Advocacy course is a prerequisite to participation in other moot court competitions. At the end of the course, each student receives a ranking according to his or her grade on the brief and the oral argument, and that ranking (as well as satisfaction of any additional prerequisites) determines the student's eligibility for participation in the Marquette University Law School Honors Moot Court Competition in the spring semester.
The top sixteen students from the Appellate Writing and Advocacy course are invited to compete (in two-person teams) in the Jenkins Moot Court Competition in the spring semester. Jenkins Moot Court Competition teams research and prepare briefs, which they submit in late February, and then compete in quarter-final, semi-final, and final rounds of oral argument in March and April.
Marquette University Law School routinely and successfully participates in a variety of national moot court competitions. Law students have distinguished themselves by placing first in the Saul Lefkowitz Intellectual Property (Trademark) Competition and winning the award for Best Appellant Brief in the Pace Law School National Environmental Law Moot Court Competition. During the 2010-11 school year, MULS students could compete in up to twelve different competitions, including the Evan A. Evans Constitutional Law Moot Court Competition and the National Appellate Advocacy Competition. In fall 2010, the Law School hosted the Region VIII National Moot Court Competition for the sixth year.