Legal Research and Writing

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  • Legal Research and Writing Program

    Experiential Learning at Hamline rests on the foundations built by the Legal Research and Writing (LRW) curriculum. Students at Hamline take three semesters of LRW. Assignments are designed to simulate the types of research, writing, drafting, and oral advocacy done in actual legal practice.

    Students in the LRW Program receive extensive individual attention through a) required one-on-one tutorial sessions in which instructors review assignment drafts and give students oral and written feedback before assignment submission, b) extensive written feedback on submitted assignments, c) optional conferences about graded assignments, and d) instructor availability via email and extensive office hours.

    LRW class sessions are designed to teach to a broad range of learning styles, and combine lecture, small and large group exercises, and simulations.

    LRW First Year (Two Semesters)

    In their first year of law school, all students take LRW I in the fall and LRW II in the spring. Both courses are designed to teach the fundamentals of legal analysis, synthesis, writing, and drafting.

    LRW I teaches legal analysis, the synthesis of legal authorities, the writing of objective legal memoranda, and citation. It also introduces drafting skills and teaches statutory drafting. The culmination of LRW I is a simulated mediation. In the simulation, done in conjunction with Hamline’s Dispute Resolution Institute, student role players mediate a dispute, based on a client situation that the students have analyzed earlier in an objective memorandum, under the guidance of a professional mediator. This exercise is designed, in significant part, to raise students awareness of how best to serve client needs, a focus that continues in LRW II through work on client communications.

    LRW II teaches written and oral client communications, trial-level persuasive memoranda and oral advocacy, and the drafting of a variety of documents. Hamline’s professional research librarians teach primary and secondary source research skills, and cost-effective research, through classroom teaching and hands-on exercises.

    By the end of their first year, students in the LRW Program learn the fundamental skills needed for employment as law clerks and beginning lawyers.

    LRW Second Year (One Semester)

    In their second year of law school, LRW III students learn advanced skills to make them even more effective lawyers in a competitive work environment. LRW students take either an Appellate Litigation third semester, which teaches how to write an appellate brief and present an appellate oral argument, along with variety of associated assignments, or a Drafting third semester, which focuses on a variety of drafting tasks and associated practice skills, such as negotiating and the professional use of forms.

    Program Faculty

    The faculty members who teach LRW at Hamline come from a variety of backgrounds and have professional work experiences including corporate, legal services, and small, mid-size and large firm practice, as well as judicial clerkships.

    As a group, our faculty have over 70 years of LRW teaching experience, as well as teaching experience in other disciplines such as Alternative Dispute Resolution, Insurance Law, Employment Law, education of foreign LLM students, and training of legal assistants. Faculty members have also engaged in the practice community through coaching summer clerks and associate attorneys at a local law firm, and through mentoring associate attorneys while in practice.

    Our department includes both enthusiastic new faculty whose recent practice keeps our teaching up-to-date and seasoned veterans whose experience adds depth and reliability to our program.

    Our department uses a highly collaborative approach in which teaching materials, assignments, and ideas are shared and vetted by multiple faculty within the department. In addition, elements of the course are designed and taught or facilitated by faculty and staff from other parts of the law school, including the research librarians at Hamline’s Law Library and the faculty of Hamline’s Dispute Resolution Institute.