Because writing and analysis are such critical components of law practice, Maryland law students complete a required legal analysis, writing, and advocacy sequence of courses. Students complete writing assignments of increasing complexity, culminating in the completion of an original paper of publishable quality about a legal problem.
In Legal Analysis and Writing, first-semester students are taught to read and understand cases by examining the anatomy of a lawsuit and the elements of court decisions. They also learn to read and analyze statutes and to understand the relationships among cases, statutes and regulations. The course teaches students to distinguish among and evaluate various types of legal authority, and to use that authority to solve legal problems. The students then learn to communicate their analysis by writing, for example, office memos to supervising attorneys, advice letters to clients, or bench memos to judges. Through these writing assignments, students learn how to meet the needs and expectations of the legal audience and to understand the role that various documents play in law practice.
In Written and Oral Advocacy, students are introduced to a case at the trial level. Working on a well developed case file, students learn to work with facts, to develop a theory of the case, and to use their research and writing skills to develop and advance that theory. Over the course of the semester, students write several different documents to a court, such as a motion to dismiss, a motion for summary judgment, or a trial brief. The course also includes an oral advocacy component.
In addition to completing the LA&W and W&OA sequence, students take an advanced research course in their substantive specialty, and complete the law school's Advanced Writing Requirement by writing a paper of publishable quality about a legal problem. In addition to the upper class writing and research requirements, the Writing in Law Practice series offers writing electives covering topics such as advanced appellate advocacy, federal civil litigation, advising government agencies, animal law advocacy, drafting negotiated agreements and pretrial litigation.