Legal Writing Program
Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law has a required two semester, four credit hour graded writing course requirement. The first two semesters of the J.D. course cover objective writing, persuasive writing (at the trial court and appellate levels), and an introduction to oral advocacy. These courses include an introduction to legal research, but the school also requires a one-semester course devoted exclusively to legal research. Faculty/student ratios typically average between 1:35-40 for full-time professors.
The importance of analytical, research and writing skills to the work of lawyers and judges cannot be over-emphasized. In addition, therefore, to the basic required courses, the school offers several advanced courses. These may be taken to satisfy the skills course requirement for graduation, but whether or not so taken, students should recognize that their research and writing skills will be significantly enhanced by enrolling in these courses.
The writing program has seven full-time faculty members, with collectively, over seventy-five years teaching experience in the field. Our writing professors have been active in the Legal Writing Institute (LWI), participating regularly as presenters at conferences and on LWI committees, as officers of the Institute and as members of the board of Editors for the Journal of the Legal Writing Institute. They have published several textbooks and articles in the field, supervise the law school's moot court programs and the school's appellate clinic and are actively engaged in the legal community. The program has been ranked as within the top ten in the nation.
In addition to its full-time faculty-members, several adjunct professors with significant practice experience teach in the writing program.
Legal research instruction is conducted by law school librarians who hold both the M.L.S. and the J.D. degrees. These librarians are very experienced in teaching, having taught all levels of the law school's research curriculum.
Basic Required Courses
Legal Analysis, Research and Communication I and II (2 cr. each) D/N 520-D/N 521 introduce students to sources of law, the nature of precedent, legal research, common law and statutory analysis, objective and persuasive legal writing, appellate advocacy, and the drafting of legal documents.
Legal Research (1 cr.) D/N 528 This course is designed to provide law students with the basic legal research skills essential for successful law practice. Topics include sources of law and types of authority, secondary sources, case law, statutes, administrative regulations, legislative history, authority verification, computer-assisted legal research, and developing and implementing a successful legal research plan. Since learning legal research requires a hands-on approach, students are required to complete various weekly assignments involving research problems as well as a final examination. The faculty recommends that students undertake their advanced research and writing project in conjunction with this course. FULL TIME STUDENTS ARE REQUIRED TO TAKE THIS COURSE IN THE FALL SEMESTER OF THEIR SECOND YEAR. PART TIME STUDENTS ARE REQUIRED TO TAKE THIS COURSE IN THE SPRING SEMESTER OF THEIR SECOND YEAR. THIS REQUIREMENT, HOWEVER, APPLIES ONLY TO STUDENTS WHO HAVE NOT COMPLETED LARC III BEFORE THE FALL SEMESTER, 2010. As this course will normally be taught online, the law school's distance education policy applies to it.
Advanced Legal Research (2 or 3 cr.) D/N 664 builds on the basic research skills and techniques covered in the basic course, Legal Research, this course offers students an opportunity to gain in-depth working knowledge of legal research resources and methods. This course is intended to develop a mastery of legal research beyond the level of the standard first year curriculum. The course will cover several major areas of legal research, including, but not limited to, extensive coverage of primary and secondary sources, practice and specialized topical resources, international law, cost-effective legal research, legislative history and administrative law, legal resources on the Internet and advanced training on LEXIS and WESTLAW. Course objectives are: 1) to expand students skills in primary and secondary US legal sources, in all formats; 2) to teach students how to evaluate resources and use them effectively, with particular emphasis on cost-effective research; 3) to help students develop efficient online research skills; 4) to introduce students to some non-legal information resources. Students are required to complete weekly research assignments and a comprehensive research assignment. This is an online course, and the law schools distance education policy applies.
Advanced Persuasive Writing and Oral Advocacy (2 cr.) D/N 522 explores advanced techniques in persuasive writing and oral advocacy. The course assignments will cover civil and criminal matters in a trial court setting. P: Legal Analysis, Research, and Communication I and II (DN520 and DN521).
Basic Contract Drafting (2 cr.) D/N 538 This course provides introductory training in the basic techniques of contract drafting. Through classroom discussion, reading assignments, in-class exercises, and drafting assignments, students will learn about different contract concepts; how to translate agreed terms into enforceable provisions that concisely and precisely reflect the contracting parties' intent; and how to draft a logically organized contract in plain English. This course is not available to students who have completed LARC III. P: Completion of Contracts and Sales I & II and LARC I & II.
Litigation Drafting (2 cr.) D/N 539 This course focuses on drafting complaints, answers, motions, interrogatories, and other documents required to prepare a case for trial. Trial and post-trial motions may be included. Students will conduct legal research and fact investigation in simulated cases or scenarios. Strategic decisions in case development and the ethics of advocacy will be considered. Students who enroll at any time in this course may not enroll in Lawyering Practice, and this course is not available to students who have completed LARC III.
Principles of Rhetoric (2 or 3 cr.) D/N 523 Knowing there is insufficient time during the first year writing course to explore in depth the different aspects of the classical rhetorical techniques used to persuade - the appeal to logos, pathos, and ethos - this course will provide further instruction on the way these techniques are applied for persuasive effect. The course will not focus on writing specific legal documents; instead, students will critically read about and review rhetorical techniques used in the legal community and through social media and then apply those techniques when writing individual and group exercises for review. The course will begin with an in-class session; the remainder of the class will be online. Online quizzes and written exercises for review will be assigned throughout the course, culminating in an online exam.
Supervised Research (1 to 4 cr.) D/N 661 requires the student to write an in-depth and comprehensive research paper on a current legal problem. Generally, 5000-7000 words exclusive of footnotes or endnotes, as determined by the supervising faculty member, are required for each hour of credit. P: Permission of instructor.
Advanced Research and Writing Requirement
All students must complete the Advanced Research and Writing Requirement to graduate with the J.D. degree. This graduation requirement is a substantial research paper that is the equivalent of a law review note. The length of the paper will be determined by the supervising faculty member within the range of 5,000-7,000 words exclusive of endnotes. The paper must be supervised by a faculty member and must receive a grade of at least B-. Students may satisfy this requirement in any of the following ways: (1) completion of a course or seminar in which the grade is based substantially upon a written product which is the equivalent of a law review note, or (2) completion of a law review note, or (3) completion of at least one credit hour of the law school course Supervised Research, or (4) certification by a faculty member that the student, working without reference to a particular course offered for credit, has completed a paper that satisfies the requirements of this rule. Please note that the Moot Court Appellate Brief does not fulfill the writing requirement.