The Legal Writing Program at North Carolina Central University School of Law is committed to excellence in legal writing. Our students complete a rigorous required three-semester legal writing curriculum, which includes Legal Reasoning & Analysis, Legal Research & Persuasion and Legal Letters. In addition, our evening program students are required to take Senior Writing.
Legal Reasoning & Analysis
For the Fall semester of their first year, 1Ls are required to take Legal Reasoning & Analysis. In this course, students are introduced to the basics of legal research, reasoning, analysis and writing. Writing professors teach the students issue identification, identification of key facts, analogy, distinction, case synthesis, and statutory construction. The basics of legal research are taught by reference librarians. The course concludes with a closed-research, objective memorandum of law.
Legal Research & Persuasion
For the Spring semester of their first year, 1Ls take Legal Research & Persuasion. This course teaches students the fundamentals of legal research and citation form and provides advanced instruction in legal reasoning and analysis. The course continues research instruction on the primary and secondary sources of law and relevant finding tools in print and electronic format. Students receive instruction on the research strategies necessary to find and update the law. Students prepare a final research project and an open-research, persuasive memorandum of law.
Evening students are required to complete this class, which is an intensive writing class. Students write several practical skills-oriented documents, including letters, pleadings, settlement brochures, motions, and supporting briefs.
Practice-Oriented Writing Courses
Advanced Legal Writing
The course addresses the skill of legal writing, including analyzing legal issues, advanced grammar, organizing strategies, effective writing techniques, and using new editing techniques. The students will prepare two short writing exercises during the course, culminating in the production of a final scholarly paper. The student will choose the subject and receive advice from the course instructor during the semester regarding this final scholarly paper. At the end of the semester, the student may prepare a short presentation to the class, sharing his/her project, as appropriate.
2 Credit Hours: 26 to 45 pages
3 Credit Hours: 46 to 65 pages
Judicial Opinion Writing
This course is an overview of the procedures and practical aspects of a judicial clerkship. Topics covered include coverage of clerkship duties, drafting an opinion, confidentiality, prohibited practices, appellate rules, case law, citations and oral arguments. Students learn to trace the sources and evolution of appellate law; explain the structure and jurisdiction of the appellate courts; distinguish procedural law from substantive law on appeals; list and describe the essential elements of an opinion; and describe the Rules of Appellate Procedure and their application to opinions.
Upperclassmen are required to take this class after their first year to strengthen the student’s legal research, analytical and communication skills. Students prepare various letters such as a detailed client letter, a demand letter, a response to a demand letter, a letter to an administrative or regulatory agency, an investigative letter from Agency to Respondent and a decision letter from the Agency.
Legal Writing and Technique
This two-credit hour online writing course helps prepare students for the rigors of legal analysis and writing in general civil practice by providing a variety of writing experiences including opinion and demand letters, pleadings, motions, and trial briefs. Assignments are based on a number of substantive issues of statutory and common law including property, contracts, torts and civil procedure. Writing assignments involve initial drafts, instructor feedback, and final revisions. Research skills are also honed through review and practice. In addition to content analysis and structure, emphasis is placed on the ethical and professional considerations involved with each assignment.
Pleadings and Practice
This course focuses on drafting pleadings, motions, discovery, and other legal documents, in a realistic private practice setting.
Academic Legal Writing: Law Review Articles, Student Notes, Seminar Papers, and Getting on Law Review by Eugene Volokh
Commitment, Voice, and Clarity: An Argument Rhetoric and Reader by Janet Marting
The Elements of Style by William Strunk, Jr. and E.B. White
The Journey to Excellence in Writing by Pamela Newell and Timothy J. Peterkin
Legal Writing: Getting it Right and Getting it Written by Mary Barbard Ray and Jill J. Ramsfield
Legal Writing in Plain English: A Text with Exercises by Bryan A. Garner