After the first year of law school, students may choose from a rich array of writing and research electives. These include:
This course introduces students to general appellate rules and procedures and then show how they're applied in a "real life" format. It begins with the nuts and bolts of appellate practice (e.g., procedural rules, pleadings) and moves quickly to advanced research techniques and perfecting your blue-booking skills (a must for competitions and litigation practice), brief-writing (e.g., construction of the brief, formatting for emphasis, appealing style) and, finally, to oral argument (anticipating questions, preparing and delivering answers, ways to weave back into your argument). Providing a context for this are mini-problems and oral arguments.
Attorneys play a critical role in policymaking and policy advocacy. Policy advocacy is organized activity aimed at creating, reforming, and monitoring public policies. This course is designed to refine students’ legal writing, research, and analytical skills and to introduce students to the uses of legal writing in effective policy advocacy. Advocates use written documents to influence policymakers and other actors. Students discuss a variety of advocacy strategies and related uses of research and communications tools. Students work individually and in teams to research and draft policy advocacy documents for partner groups. They learn about the legislative or regulatory processes relevant to their project topics and also study a variety of documents typically used in policy advocacy, such as background/discussion papers, authoritative public reports or “white papers,” regulatory comment letters, and others.
Lawyers use writing to persuade courts, clients, and countless other institutions and individuals. This advanced legal writing course focuses on how persuasion operates in law and culture by investigating the means and methods of written persuasion. The class helps students become more thoughtful and effective legal writers by building on the research and writing skills established in LComm II. In the course students consider sources from within the law, including judicial opinions and persuasive briefs, as well as academic writing on the theories, strategies, and ethics of persuasion. Non-legal sources from advertising, journalism, entertainment, literature, popular culture, and politics are also read and discussed to identify what those sources reveal about effective persuasion. Persuasive writing is practiced by developing fluency with rhetorical and organizational techniques and a more sophisticated understanding of the impact of formatting, grammar, punctuation, and legal citation.
After the initial pleadings in a civil case, how do the parties get the information they need from each other to prevail in the litigation? Did you read about the case where, after a jury verdict of over $10 million in favor of the plaintiff, the court sanctioned the plaintiff and the plaintiff’s lawyer over $700,000 for destroying relevant documents that were requested by the defendant? This course explores the tension between zealously representing a client’s interests and fairly responding to discovery requests so as not to obstruct the process. This intensive writing course focuses on the specialized drafting and practical skills needed for successful civil litigation practice. Following the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, this course takes students through a hypothetical civil litigation problem, in which students are assigned attorney roles. Students also learn how to prepare discovery documents tailored to the demands of contemporary legal practice, how to interact with clients, colleagues, and opposing counsel, and how to collaborate with colleagues and opposing counsel to achieve the best result for the client. Students will also receive training in professionalism, oral advocacy, professional correspondence, and other essential litigation skills.
This advanced legal writing course examines the attorney-client relationship and teaches students effective strategies for communicating with clients in verbal and written form. Did you read about the case where, after five years of intense litigation, the court discovered that it lacked jurisdiction and the plaintiff lack standing? The plaintiff's counsel failed to explore basic facts with his client. This course will help students to avoid such pitfalls by engaging in active and effective client communications. In addition, the course examines client communications throughout the life of a case, from the initial client meeting to final resolution. Students also conduct a client interview and, once hired, are responsible for all essential communications with that client. Students learn how to draft several client letters, including retainer, advice, status, and transmittal letters. Students furthermore learn when and how to use email rather than letters or other methods of communication. Following the communication guidelines set forth in the Model Rules of Professional Conduct, students are responsible for promoting client satisfaction, counseling clients through complex legal matters, and drafting letters that will enhance client development and management. Finally, students learn how to appropriately terminate the attorney-client relationship once the matter is resolved.
This course is designed to introduce students to Florida legal resources and to provide hands-on experience in using Florida print and electronic legal resources. The course goal is to provide students with the skills necessary to conduct effective and efficient research by emphasizing (i) the evaluation of resources, (ii) research strategies, and (iii) practical research concepts.
This course focuses on legal research strategy and resources. The resources include both print and online tools and tpics covered go well beyond the scope of the first-year course and highlight research tools and techniques used in practice. Considering the pace at which technology is changing research, the course emphasizes the strategy involved in selecting evaluating and using appropriate sources. By the end of the class, students will be able to conduct effective and efficient research.
This course introduces students to one of the most prestigious and competitive employment opportunities for young lawyers. Judicial clerks have unparalleled access to a judge’s chambers and courtroom and gain an insider’s view of the judicial process. They have the opportunity to impact a judge’s decision-making and to develop relationships and writing skills that will advance their legal careers. This course introduces students to the various types of advanced legal writing they will encounter in judicial clerkships. Students practice the work of judicial clerks as they draft a bench brief in a case pending before the U.S. Supreme Court. In addition, students study a case progressing through Florida’s Third District Court of Appeal and draft a short opinion to become familiar with the complex view from the bench. Students further hone their writing skills by working on various in-class writing and editing assignments and by reviewing real-world examples from prominent legal writers, judges, and authors.
This course is for journalism and law students who are interested in gaining real-world media experience. Students enrolled in The Courts Beat study a legal issue and write narrative-style journalism articles about their chosen topics. By doing so, students practice the work of legal affairs correspondents and learn investigative journalism and storytelling skills that are valuable to lawyers and journalists alike. In addition, students learn the intricacies of covering The Courts Beat, one of the most coveted assignments at any news organization. Students will have the opportunity to work with investigative journalists from the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting to develop their research and storytelling skills. For the final writing project, students identify a local legal issue to investigate. In addition to conducting legal research, students practice working in the field as reporters by attending court hearings, conducting interviews, and tracking down evidence and other source material. Some examples of legal issues that students may research include immigration, bankruptcy, foreclosures, adoption, environmental law, and wrongful convictions. Students investigate their legal issue with the goal of narrowing their focus to a specific, contemporary legal problem and putting a human face on the issue.
In this course, students learn to draft, review, and negotiate basic commercial agreements. The course covers principles of contract law, the anatomy of a typical commercial contract (in the United States), and the role of the legal practitioner as contract drafter. The course also addresses rules of contract interpretation, style and usage, matters of organization, and more substantively, how various contract terms allocate risk and responsibility between parties and create various legal consequences.
This is a two-credit seminar where students learn about Rule 12(b)(6), Fed. R. Civ. P., recent case law regarding this rule, writing an effective motion to dismiss, defending against a motion to dismiss, presenting oral argument on a motion to dismiss. Students also learn about the importance of abiding by local rules in litigating a case.
In this two-credit seminar students further develop their writing skills by learning about the importance of abiding by local rules in litigating a case. The class places an emphasis on real-world federal-practice expectations and polishing legal writing through legal analysis, English grammar and usage, effective writing style, citation format, and clarity in thinking and writing. The class prepares memoranda supporting three motions: (1) a motion to remand; (2) a discovery motion (e.g., a motion to compel, a motion for protective order, etc.); and (3) a motion for preliminary injunction. Students prepare both a draft and a final draft of their first two written submissions and are provided with detailed written comments suggesting ways in which students may improve their writing product. Students turn in only one version of the final brief - the memorandum in support of the motion for preliminary injunction. The class will use case studies prepared by the professor so that the students' experience will mimic real-world practice. In preparing all written submissions, students will abide by the Local Rules of the Southern District of Florida.
This course allows students to build on and reinforce the skills introduced in Legal Communication & Research Skills I and II. It provides students with additional opportunities to engage in realistic writing projects to strengthen their transition to legal practice. Emphasis is placed on writing as a recursive process, guiding students though the outlining, drafting, revising, and editing stages. Students receive detailed feedback on their writing from the instructor, and class size is limited to ensure a high level of individual attention.
What Are Writing Assignments Like? (Webisode #2): Hear 1L students describe the steps taken to analyze a legal problem and write about it.
First-year law students have the opportunity each year to observe the judicial process when the Third DCA holds oral arguments at the University of Miami.
Miami Law encourages students to showcase their writing skills by entering national writing competitions. Sponsoring organizations and law firms typically offer generous cash awards and resume-boosting recognition to top writers. Click here for a list of other writing competitions.