The Legal Writing Program is based on foundational principles that maximize student learning.
The first principle is long-term learning, not just the successful completion of any one assignment. Consequently, the Legal Writing Program focuses on the process lawyers go through as they research, analyze, and write so that students can use that process to solve other legal problems and write other types of documents.
The second principle is sequencing for mastery. We believe that the best curriculum is one in which each assignment not only builds on what was learned before but also introduces new concepts and skills. Carefully sequenced assignments allow students to practice and master critical research and writing skills. In our curriculum, the entire first-year course contains a series of sequenced assignments related to legal research and objective analysis. In addition, we require a third semester focused on pretrial and appellate advocacy. Students can also take upper division courses in both research and writing that build on the skills learned in the required courses, and our clinical courses and externship placements continue to build on what students learn in the Legal Writing Program.
The third principle is individualization. Legal Writing professors provide extensive feedback on assignments and teach students to analyze and revise their own work. Students receive written feedback on many initial drafts and all final assignments, and many students have individual conferences with their legal writing professors to discuss their writing. All students have the opportunity to apply feedback to other parts of the assignment and revise drafts to create even better final products.
Teaching with Technology
The legal writing faculty at Seattle University uses technology both inside and outside the classroom to enhance student learning. Each classroom is equipped with a state-of-the-art system that allows faculty to project computer screens and all types of paper documents and to show videos. In addition, classrooms have both high-speed and wireless Internet. Students can e-mail drafts to their professor for immediate projection and can actively participate with their professor in online legal research sessions.
Outside of class, almost all critiquing and grading is done electronically: students submit their assignments as e-mail attachments, and professors insert comments directly into the electronic versions of the documents and then return the assignments to students. Furthermore, every legal writing class has its own website, used to upload assignment sheets and handouts, to link to useful websites, and to schedule student conferences.
Legal Writing Scholarships and Awards
Seattle University has demonstrated its commitment to legal writing by offering four legal writing scholarships. The Cheney Legal Writing Scholarship and two Metzger Legal Writing Scholarships are awarded to second-year students who demonstrate a high level of proficiency in their first-year legal writing course. The Mark Reutlinger Excellence in Legal Writing Scholarship is awarded to second- or third-year students who have written the best papers in a law school course outside the legal writing program. Additionally, the Marilyn J. Berger Gender and Justice Writing Award is a writing achievement award that is available to second- and third-year students in recognition of excellence in written work on a gender and the law topic.