The Law School prepares students for professional careers by training them to analyze legal issues and to communicate well about them. To that end, students are required to focus on legal writing throughout their three years of study. As students write and talk about the law, their understanding of the law develops. Correspondingly, as students' understanding of the law deepens, their ability to write and talk about it increases. Expanding both understanding and communications skills increases students' abilities to solve problems for clients in clinical settings.
Students may satisfy the legal writing requirements through courses, moot court participation or work on law journals. First-year students are required to take Legal Writing. In the second year, students choose to serve on a law journal or participate in moot court. In the third year, students can participate in moot court, serve on a journal or take a legal writing seminar.
Director of Applied Legal Instruction, Professor Bradley G. Clary, Room 444, is responsible for overseeing the Legal Research and Writing program. J.D. students are required to satisfactorily complete a legal writing requirement during each year of Law School (see Scholastic Requirement Rule 5). Legal Writing is an integral part of the curriculum and is a requirement for graduation. The University of Minnesota Law School is one of only five schools nationally to receive student Burton Awards for Legal Achievement seven or more times.
The First Year Legal Research and Writing Program is an intensive two-semester introduction to principles of legal writing and oral advocacy. First-year students are responsible for the information contained in the Legal Research and Writing Syllabus, which is distributed at the Legal Writing Orientation program and during the first week of small group classes. All 25 small groups will work on the same basic materials. Each of the small group instructors will further communicate assignments, expectations, and program standards to students during their particular 8 am Wednesday or 8 am Thursday morning scheduled class time. Weekly attendance is required for this course.
All second-year law students must satisfy the Second Year Writing Requirement either by serving as a member of the staff on one of the five journals (Law Review, Minnesota Journal of International Law, Journal of Law and Inequality, ABA Journal of Labor & Employment Law, or the Minnesota Journal of Law, Science & Technology), or by successfully completing one of the Moot Court programs available: ABA Moot Court Competition Team, Civil Rights Moot Court, Environmental Law Moot Court, Intellectual Property Moot Court, International Moot Court, Maynard Pirsig Moot Court or National Moot Court. All Second Year legal writing exercises are two-semester programs, and they cannot be satisfied without completing both Fall and Spring semesters.
Law School rules require that each student complete a substantive research paper of 20-25 pages for a pre-approved course or seminar taken in their third (or subsequent) year (see Scholastic Requirement Rule 5.4). The paper must rely on original research, and be of “near publishable” quality, including standard legal citation format. The Third Year Writing Requirement cannot be satisfied in the second year of law school.
Students may also satisfy the third year writing requirement through certain journal editor positions, or by serving as a Moot Court Director or Competition Team member. Participation as a member of the Wagner Labor and Employment Law Moot Court competition team also satisfies the requirement.
Moot courts provide training in written and oral advocacy by giving students mock problems involving current real-world legal issues. Students then argue the cases to appellate courts, using the techniques and processes of real lawyers, taught by full-time clinical faculty members with practice experience, adjunct attorneys and judges.
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The University of Minnesota Law School is one of few law schools that has student-edited, faculty-edited, and student- and faculty-edited scholarly journals, each of which has gained national prominence.