BU Law’s upper-level advanced legal writing courses provide students with opportunities to sharpen the legal writing skills acquired in the first year. These courses are geared to specific subject matter or legal writing settings and are taught by instructors in small seminars which include substantial feedback to students on their written products.
Advanced Legal Writing and Editing Workshop
In this seminar, you will prepare a variety of practice-related documents based on a single fact pattern. Some legal research is necessary, but the emphasis is on writing, not research. This class is a simulation in which actors perform a scenario for the class, from which students extract the pertinent facts. From this fact pattern, you will draft an inter-office memo, a letter or memo to a non-lawyer client, and a trial or appellate brief. You’ll have the opportunity to edit other students’ papers and redraft documents, with the goal of improving your own writing skills. The emphasis in this class is on improving students’ writing style and ability to synthesize the law.
Designed for students who would like to clerk upon graduation or who have ambitions to sit on the bench, this class focuses on documents that law clerks and judges are called upon to draft, including bench briefs and appellate and trial court decisions. Students complete multiple drafts of these documents, meet individually with the instructor to discuss the drafts, and engage in peer editing of classmates’ papers. Students work with a single fact pattern throughout the semester, and conduct extensive research as part of the course. In class, you’ll discuss the role of judges and their opinions in the legal systems, as well as the relationship between a judge and law clerk. The class also includes in-class writing exercises designed to improve your writing skills.
Legal Writing for Civil Litigation
This class is designed to give you a variety of legal writing experiences, all related to civil litigation. Students draft a variety of documents, including discovery-related documents, pleadings and motions. You will complete multiple drafts of these documents, meet individually with your instructor to discuss the drafts, and engage in peer editing of classmates’ papers. Students work with a single fact pattern throughout the semester and conduct extensive research as part of the course. In class, students discuss litigation strategy, research skills, and ethical and professional concerns. In addition, the class includes in-class writing exercises designed to improve your writing skills.
This class focuses on improving students’ persuasive writing skills through a series of assignments and in-class exercises. Students draft a variety of documents designed to persuade, including a statement of the facts and memos in support of motions. Some legal research is necessary for these assignments, but the emphasis is on writing, not on research. Students complete multiple drafts of each assignment, meet individually with the instructor to discuss the drafts, and engage in peer editing of their classmates’ papers to improve their own writing skills. The class also includes discussions of persuasive writing strategies, comparisons of examples of good and bad persuasive writing, and in-class writing exercises.
Legal Writing Fellows Program
Each First-Year Writing Seminar has one Legal Writing Fellow who attends each weekly seminar meeting and meets with students regularly to discuss each assignment. In addition, Writing Fellows attend a bi-weekly class taught by the director of the Legal Writing and Appellate Advocacy Program. In addition to providing valuable assistance to first-year students, a Legal Writing Fellow’s writing and research skills benefit from participation in the Program.
Writing Supplements to Upper Class Courses
Students enrolled in selected upper-class courses have the option of enrolling in one-credit Writing Supplements to these courses. Designed for students who are interested in practicing in the areas covered by the course, these one-credit supplements are taught by experienced attorneys who practice in these areas. In collaboration with the professor teaching the substantive course, the practitioner instructs students in drafting documents related to the substantive coursework. For example, a writing supplement to a family law class could include separation agreements, custody agreements or restraining orders. Writing sections consist of one introductory meeting and a number of follow up meetings to discuss drafts in progress. Because enrollment is limited, you will receive substantial feedback and individualized instruction.
Appellate Advocacy Programs
BU Law students have the chance to tackle complex cases that demand thorough research and excellent oral and written presentations. You’ll have a variety of appellate advocacy opportunities to choose from, including intramural moot court, negotiation, and client counseling competitions. Every year, teams of students represent BU Law at moot court and other competitions around the country. You can also choose to become a moot court board member.
Second-Year Intramural Competitions
In addition to the J. Newton Esdaile Appellate Moot Court Program for first-year students, the Legal Writing and Appellate Advocacy Program administers two intramural upperclass competitions. In the Edward C. Stone Moot Court Competition, held each fall, second-year students compete in teams of two for a chance to advance to our honors competition. Each team briefs one side of a case and then argues that side at oral argument, judged by a panel of third-year students, faculty and attorneys. The top 32 students from the competition advance to the Homer Albers Prize Moot Court Competition in the spring. The Edward C. Stone Moot Court Competition is open to all second-year students and participation is a prerequisite for placement on any of BU Law’s official moot court teams.
The Homer Albers Prize Moot Court Competition takes place each spring. The invitees compete in teams of two through up to five rounds of competition. Each team briefs one side of the competition problem, but has an opportunity to argue each side at least once in the two preliminary rounds, which are judged by panels of attorneys. Eight teams advance and argue again before panels of BU Law faculty members. The teams that advance to the semi-final and final rounds argue before panels of judges. Recent semi-final panels have included judges from the Massachusetts Appeals Court and Rhode Island Supreme Court. Final round panels generally consist of judges of the United States Court of Appeals from around the country, most recently from the first, second, third, sixth, tenth and federal circuits.
Third-Year Moot Court Teams and Boards
Third-year students who participated in the Edward C. Stone Moot Court Competition are eligible to apply for a position on one of BU Law’s Intramural Moot Court Teams or Boards. BU Law enters teams in a variety of national and international competitions, including the National Moot Court Competition, the Sutherland Cup Competition, and the Oxford International IP Competition. The student Moot Court Boards draft the moot court problems for the Esdaile, Stone, and Albers competitions, administer those competitions, and score the competitors in the second-year competitions. The Legal Writing and Appellate Advocacy Program also supports individual student groups who wish to send teams to other intermural competitions, and assists in the administration of the Philip C. Jessup Moot Court team.
Negotiation and Client Counseling
Each year, BU Law holds an intramural Negotiation Competition in the fall and an intramural Client Counseling competition in January. The top teams from each of these competitions represent BU Law at the ABA regional competitions, for a chance to advance again to the national and even international rounds.