Legal Writing Program

Students agree that learning to research and write about the law are two of the most important skills they will need to practice law. Maine Law’s first-year Legal Research and Writing Program demonstrates the school’s commitment to preparing students for practice.

The fall semester focuses on fundamental skills needed for lawyers: an understanding of the United States legal system and legal discourse; an understanding of the hierarchy of legal authorities; basic research skills in print and electronic sources; an ability to read and analyze statutes and cases; an ability to analyze facts; an understanding of the components of legal analysis and writing; effective objective, predictive writing skills; effective client communication skills; proper citation form; and professionalism in all communications. Students practice these skills by writing a judicial opinion for a case on appeal in the Maine Supreme Judicial Court, and an objective memo and opinion letter involving a hypothetical legal problem, which they must research throughout the semester.

The spring semester builds on these fundamental skills, but also focuses on persuasive writing, oral advocacy, transactional drafting, and negotiation. Using hypothetical problems, the students research and write a trial brief or motion, which they must argue orally to a panel of judges, and negotiate a settlement agreement with their peers, after which they draft a contract that reflects the settlement. Students also practice writing and testifying in the administrative law context.

Throughout the year, students learn these important skills through large and small group sessions, lectures by visiting judges and lawyers, and observation of arguments in the Maine Supreme Judicial Court. Students receive extensive written comments on all drafts of every assignment and have many opportunities to meet individually with their legal writing professor, reference librarian, and student legal writing teaching assistant.