Legal Research and Writing

An Introduction to American Legal Writing

The fall semester two-credit Legal Research and Writing seminar is specifically designed to introduce foreign-trained lawyers to the basic principles of American legal writing. In small class settings and individual conferences, students receive guidance on drafting and editing memoranda and agreements. Their work is critiqued and rewritten. The research component of the seminar trains students to locate cases, statutes and secondary material through indexing systems and the latest computer technology. Research assignments are integrated into writing assignments—exposing students to the methods of US legal analyses—so that by the end of the term, students obtain the skills needed to write memoranda appropriate for submission to US law firms.

The LLM Writing Seminar is supervised by Professor Robert Volk, the director of the First Year Writing Program. His office, as well as the Writing Program office, is located on the 5th floor of the law school.

Books and Assignments

Writing seminar classes will begin the week of September 6nd and will meet most weeks during the first semester.

Booklist and Syllabus

Bouchoux, Aspen Handbook for Legal Writers (3d ed. 2013)
Bachman, et. al., Researching the Law (2014)
The Bluebook, A Uniform System of Citation (19th ed. 2010)
Recommended (but not required): Strunk and White, The Elements of Style

Assignments for the first class


For the first class, please read Bouchoux, ch. 4 and Appendix B.


All notices regarding the Writing Program will be posted on Blackboard. The course number is AM704 (Writing LLMs). LLMs are responsible for checking for information about class schedules, room changes, assignments, messages from instructors, and other assignments.


You will receive your class section assignment at orientation.

Seminar schedules will be posted each week on the Blackboard site for the class (AM704).

Library Research and Writing Classes

(1 hour each, 3 classes total)

The library research classes are designed to introduce students to the basics of legal research in the United States legal system. The three classes are designed to model the research process: starting with secondary sources, moving on to statutes and finishing with cases. The first class will demonstrate analyzing a research problem, selecting research terms and applying these in an appropriate secondary source. The second class will introduce statutory codes as found on the federal and state level. The class focuses on the best way to find and use a statutory section. The last class will deal with researching and updating cases. Students will be introduced to search techniques used in the two major US legal databases: Lexis and Westlaw. All classes will integrate print and electronic research with hands-on exercises.

The schedule can be found on the AM704 Blackboard site.

Please note: If you are unable to attend a library class because of a scheduling conflict, you must contact Taryn Ekins at to arrange to attend a makeup session.

Program-Specific Information

The Legal Research and Writing Seminar is not required for LLM in Banking and Financial Law students in the Graduate Tax Program, with the exception of three-semester students seeking bar eligibility. If you have any questions regarding the Legal Research and Writing Seminar, please speak with your individual program directly.