Writing 109L-Writing for the Legal Profession

Instructor: James H. Donelan
Tuesday, Thursday 8:00-10:05
Tuesdays, HSSB1232; Thursdays, Phelps 1525
Email: donelan@writing.ucsb.edu
1319 Girvetz Hall
Office Hours: Wednesday 9:00-10:00 or by appointment.

Texts: Statsky and Wernet, Case Analysis and Fundamentals of Legal Writing

A legal dictionary

A reader available at Graphikart

An online course management system, ConnectWeb, available online at http://connectweb.com/ucsb.asp

Course Description: The course will explore writing and research methods appropriate to the legal profession, including case briefs, memoranda of law, and appellate briefs. It emphasizes close reading, logical thinking, cogent analysis and argument, and clear, exact language. It is not designed to teach you legal terminology or the substantive law; and although specialized in its subject matter and formal requirements, the course offers both pre-law students and others interested in rhetoric and writing an opportunity to develop skills in expository and argumentative writing.

Requirements: You will write an in-class essay; a case brief; a legal memorandum, an advocacy letter, and an appellate brief. The relative value of these assignments and class participation in determining your course grade is as follows:

  1. Law essay-10%
  2. Case brief-15%
  3. Memo-15%
  4. Letter-15%
  5. Appellate brief-30%
  6. Participation and completion of homework assignments-15%
Please observe the following rules:


I: Terms, Definitions, and Sentences: The Case Brief

Handout: Legal Matters
In-class exercise: Writing sample on legal writing.

In-class: Legal terms, the legal system, and legal writing.

Class meets in 1525 Phelps.
Reading: Statsky, Chapters 1-7
Homework: Exercises 6.7, 7.5
In-class: Law essay; introduction to ConnectWeb; comparison and correction of exercises.

Reading: Statsky, Chapters 8-10
Homework: Exercise 10.1, a-e, Thumbnail Briefs
In-class: Creating a comprehensive brief.
In-class: Peer Review

Class meets in 1525 Phelps.
Review Statsky 8-10
Homework: Draft of Knowles v. Iowa Brief
In-class: Library Research: Introduction to Lexis-Nexis

Brief of Knowles. v. Iowa due.

II: Paragraph Development: The Legal Memorandum and the Advocacy Letter

Reading: Statsky 11-14
Homework: Exercises 12.1, 14.2
In-class: Determining sufficient authority in arguments; the structure of a memorandum..

Class meets in 1525 Phelps.
: Statsky 15-16

Homework: Draft of Memorandum
In-class: Presenting arguments; comparison of memoranda.


Memorandum due.

Readings: Statsky 17
Homework: Exercises 17.2 or 17.8
In-class: Paragraph structure; advocacy letters.


Advocacy Letter due.

III: Constructing an Argument: The Appellate Brief

Class meets in 1525 Phelps.
Statsky 18, Amarin v. Maryland Cup briefs (reader), appellate brief assignment.
Homework: Summary of arguments. Find a partner, create task schedule.
In-class: Planning an appeal; strategy and research.

Readings: Copyright article (reader); key cases (links).
Homework: Outline of appeal.
In-class: Logical arguments.

Class meets in 1525 Phelps.
Group Meetings.
Homework: First half of appeal draft.
Editing for clarity and consistency; teamwork.

Readings: Review Statsky 18
Homework: Second half of appeal draft.
In-class: Editing for rhetorical force.


Appellate Brief due.