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.

In the fall semester, first-year students learn these important skills through large and small group sessions, lectures by visiting judges and lawyers, and close study of a case currently on appeal in the Maine Supreme Judicial Court. Students have the unique opportunity to question the lawyers arguing that appeal and to attend the actual oral argument. Throughout the course of the semester, students learn to research and write a bench memo to advise the judges, and an objective memo and opinion letter involving a hypothetical legal problem.

In the spring semester, students research and write a brief in an actual United States Supreme Court case and argue their side of the case orally to a panel of three judges comprised of law professors, practicing lawyers and judges, and third-year students. Students receive extensive written comments on all drafts of every assignment and have many opportunities to meet individually with their legal writing professor and student legal writing instructor, one of six third-year students who have been chosen to lead groups of 16-20 students. Service as a student writing instructor provides an invaluable learning experience and is considered a high honor.

Maine Law's Legal Research and Writing Program has been hailed throughout the legal community as providing an outstanding foundation in legal research and writing. Feedback from law firms and judges who employ our students has been enthusiastic and appreciative. Students come back regularly, reporting the ease with which they have undertaken summer associate positions and the compliments they have received from lawyers supervising their work. Students work hard in the program, but to them it is worth the effort. As one student stated, "I know I will need good legal writing skills no matter what type of law I practice, so I am going to do everything I can to master those skills while I am taking this course." The Legal Research and Writing Program offers Maine students that opportunity.

Emphasis on writing continues in the second and third years with some courses requiring in-depth research and writing opportunities. All students must fulfill an Independent Writing requirement, either through a major research paper under faculty supervision, or by membership on one of the law school's journals.