Advanced Writing Requirement
as revised by the Faculty Council on March 7, 2013
ABA Accreditation Requirement
The American Bar Association (ABA) requires that every accredited law school “shall require that each student receive substantial instruction in …legal analysis and reasoning, legal research, problem solving, and oral communication … [and] writing in a legal context, including at least … at least one additional rigorous writing experience after the first year.” Rule 302 Accompanying Interpretation 302-1 states that “[f]actors to be considered in evaluating the rigor of writing instruction include: the number and nature of writing projects assigned to students; the opportunities a student has to meet with a writing instructor for purposes of individualized assessment of the student’s written products; the number of drafts that a student must produce of any writing project; and the form of assessment used by the writing instructor.”
The UM Carey Law Advanced Writing Requirement
Prior to graduation, each student must complete a paper of substantial quality with a substantial research component, with a grade of “B” or better. A student may satisfy the Advanced Writing Requirement:
- by writing a paper for an approved seminar. Each semester the Advance Registration Information lists the seminars that are approved for satisfaction of the requirement; or
- by writing the equivalent of a seminar paper in a course offered for at least two credits, if the instructor agrees in advance that the written work is of the kind that will satisfy the Advanced Writing Requirement; or
- by doing Independent Written Work for one or more credits, supervised by a full-time faculty member. Students wishing to satisfy the requirement through Independent Written Work must submit a written proposal to a full-time faculty supervisor before the beginning of their penultimate semester. The proposal should include a summary of the proposed topic, a preliminary thesis, and a research plan. The proposal must be approved by the faculty supervisor, who will meet regularly with the student in tutorial sessions during the course of the writing project, and will provide feedback on interim drafts. With the approval of the faculty member, notes or comments prepared for law journals may provide a starting point for independent work of this nature.
Students are strongly encouraged to either (1) enroll in a seminar that will provide them with an opportunity to satisfy the Advanced Writing Requirement or (2) obtain a full-time professor’s agreement to supervise an Independent Writing project. Day students are strongly encouraged to complete the Advanced Writing Requirement during their 2L year. Evening students are strongly encouraged to complete the requirement during their 2L or 3L year. Except in extraordinary circumstances, students must complete the requirement no later than the end of their fifth semester (day division) or seventh semester (evening division). The option of satisfying the Advanced Writing Requirement through Independent Written Work will not be available to students in their last semester of law school.
The registrar will make her best efforts to inform students who do not meet this schedule and their supervising faculty members of that fact no later than the end of the second week of classes of the semester when this recommended deadline expires.
Seminars offered by adjunct faculty may provide students the option to satisfy the advanced writing requirement at the option of the adjunct faculty member, who should consult with the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs before making that decision. Adjunct faculty may limit the number of students eligible to fulfill the requirement at their discretion. New adjunct faculty members who elect to allow students to satisfy the advanced writing requirement must receive onsite training regarding the goals, process, and methodology for providing appropriate criticism to students before the course commences. Full-time faculty and existing adjuncts are strongly encouraged to take advantage of the training, and of resources developed by the curriculum committee that explain the cert requirement in greater depth and are posted on the law school web site.
- To meet the Advanced Writing Requirement, a paper must be of “substantial quality.” This requires a written product that is more than minimally adequate.
- A paper must receive a grade of B or better to satisfy the Advanced Writing Requirement.
- A paper that is less than 25-30 pages long, exclusive of notes, is unlikely to meet the requirement.
- A paper that does not show an awareness of the pertinent primary (e.g., case law, legislation) and secondary authority is unlikely to qualify.
- A paper that merely reports, compiles or describes the work of other authors rather than engaging in original, thoughtful analysis is unlikely to qualify.
- An appellate brief would not ordinarily meet the Advanced Writing Requirement.
- The faculty member will meet with the student at least once to plan the writing project. If the student is satisfying the requirement through Independent Written Work, the full-time faculty member will meet regularly with the student in tutorial sessions during the course of the writing project.
- The faculty member will review and comment on at least one written draft of the paper before the student submits a final version of the paper.
- The faculty member will communicate to the student the faculty member's evaluation of the strengths and weaknesses of the student's final written product.
- When the faculty member is prepared to certify that the student's final written product satisfies the writing requirement, the student must complete and submit to the faculty supervisor an Advanced Writing Requirement Certification Form. The faculty supervisor then must sign the Advanced Writing Requirement Certification Form, certifying the student’s satisfaction of the requirement, and file it in the law school’s Office of Registration and Enrollment.