Advanced Legal Writing

The Research, Writing and Drafting Certificate Program will allow students to specialize in the legal analysis, research, oral advocacy and writing skills needed for success in law practice. Students will produce a bound portfolio which they may use to not only market their skills to potential employers, but also as a reference for use in practice. This portfolio will consist of documents created in the process of completing the certificate courses (such as an appellate brief, motion, real estate transaction, etc.). No other law school in Florida offers students such a certificate.

Requirements for students who matriculated prior to the Fall 2006 semester:
To receive a Research, Writing and Drafting Certificate, students must 1) successfully complete Lawyering Process I and II; 2) be designated by the School as second-or third-year students; 3) successfully complete the Legal Editing course; 4) successfully complete six additional graded credits in the program’s designated courses described below; and 5) achieve a 3.0 grade point average in all certificate courses (excluding LPI and LPII). For instance, a B- in one three-credit certificate course and B+ in another three-credit certificate course would achieve the 3.0 overall average required.

Requirements for students who matriculated during the Fall 2006 semester and thereafter:
To receive a Research, Writing and Drafting Certificate, students must 1) successfully complete Lawyering Process I and II; 2) be designated by the School as second-or third-year students; 3) successfully complete the Legal Editing course; 4) successfully complete nine additional graded credits in the program’s designated courses described below; and 5) achieve a 3.0 grade point average in all certificate courses (excluding LPI and LPII). For instance, a B- in one three-credit certificate course, a B in a second three-credit certificate course, and a B+ in a third three-credit certificate course would achieve the 3.0 overall average required.

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Certificate Program Designated Course Description
1. Legal Editing (1 P/F)
Prerequisites: Lawyering Process I and II.
Limited to 12 students.
Required course for an Advanced Legal Research and Writing Certificate. This course will help students develop advanced critiquing and legal editing skills. Each week, several students will provide the class with copies of a legal document that they have produced in other classes or in clerkships. The class will then review each student’s work and provide extensive feedback, after which the students will rewrite their work and present the documents for a second review by the class. Students must also pass a proficiency examination as a part of successfully completing this course. Legal Editing will be offered each semester.

2. Pretrial Litigation Drafting - 3 credits graded
Prerequisites: Lawyering Process I and II.
Limited to 20 students.
This course may also satisfy the School’s advanced writing requirement. Students in this course will use hypothetical case files to draft documents common to pretrial litigation, such as: demand letters; complaints; affidavits; trial briefs; motions in limine, and jury instructions. The assignments will be designed to help students refine their writing skills and better understand the “real life” expectations they encounter in a litigation practice. Students will also be exposed to more complex litigation strategies and problems throughout the course. Other litigation-oriented courses, subject to the consent of the Academic Dean in consultation with the Co-Directors of Lawyering Process, may qualify as a substitute for pretrial litigation drafting. A course may be an appropriate substitution when (a) at least eighty percent of the course’s pedagogy is designed toward drafting litigation documents, and (b) students, at a minimum, produce forty-five pages of written litigation work product over the course of the semester. This course will be offered in fall and spring semesters.

3. Appellate Advocacy - 3 hours, graded
Prerequisites: Lawyering Process I and II.
This course provides exposure to the appellate process by providing experience in writing appellate briefs and making oral arguments. At a minimum, this course will be offered each fall semester.

4. Advanced Legal Research - 3 hours graded
Prerequisites: Lawyering Process I and II.
This course surveys primary and secondary resources, both print and electronic, available to the law practitioner. On-line research strategies and cost-effective techniques are discussed. Students prepare a Research Pathfinder on an approved topic of interest incorporating the research tools learned over the term. Class presentations will be given on the Research Pathfinder. At a minimum, this course will be offered each fall semester.

5. Transactional Drafting - 3 hours graded
Prerequisites:
Contracts I and II.
In this course students will learn specific contract drafting skills and techniques. Students will draft the following types of documents: Letter of Intent, Promissory Note and Guaranty, LLC Operating Agreement, Non-Competition Agreement, Supply Agreement, Asset Purchase Agreement, Settlement Agreement and Mutual Release, and Amendments and Restatements. For each assignment, the student will receive (1) a letter of intent (or term sheet) containing hypothetical deal points made up and drafted by the professor and (2) a draft agreement that attempts to memorialize the agreement reached by the parties in the letter of intent. The student will mark-up and revise the draft agreement with three main goals in mind: (a) to be more clear and concise using plain English, (b) to more accurately reflect the deal reached between the parties in the letter of intent, and c) to provide for risks that the draft agreement and letter of intent do not contemplate. With the exception of an asset purchase agreement, which will be approximately 15-20 pages, each agreement will be approximately 3-5 pages in length. This course involves the study of some of the common problems encountered in contract drafting and how lawyers avoid them through proper planning and drafting. In the course of the drafting, the objective is for the student to protect the client by predicting what may happen and providing for that contingency.