Miami Law Advanced Writing Courses

Advanced Writing Courses

Home   >  Academics   >  Advanced Writing Courses

After the first year of law school, students may choose from a rich array of writing and research electives. These include:

Advanced Appellate Advocacy

This course introduces students to general appellate rules and procedures and then show how they're applied in a "real life" format. It begins with the nuts and bolts of appellate practice (e.g., procedural rules, pleadings) and moves quickly to advanced research techniques and perfecting your blue-booking skills (a must for competitions and litigation practice), brief-writing (e.g., construction of the brief, formatting for emphasis, appealing style) and, finally, to oral argument (anticipating questions, preparing and delivering answers, ways to weave back into your argument). Providing a context for this are mini-problems and oral arguments.

Advanced Legal Writing for Policy Advocacy

Attorneys play a critical role in policymaking and policy advocacy. Policy advocacy is organized activity aimed at creating, reforming, and monitoring public policies. This course is designed to refine students’ legal writing, research, and analytical skills and to introduce students to the uses of legal writing in effective policy advocacy. Advocates use written documents to influence policymakers and other actors. Students discuss a variety of advocacy strategies and related uses of research and communications tools. Students work individually and in teams to research and draft policy advocacy documents for partner groups. They learn about the legislative or regulatory processes relevant to their project topics and also study a variety of documents typically used in policy advocacy, such as background/discussion papers, authoritative public reports or “white papers,” regulatory comment letters, and others.

Advanced Techniques in Written Persuasion

Lawyers use writing to persuade courts, clients, and countless other institutions and individuals. This advanced legal writing course focuses on how persuasion operates in law and culture by investigating the means and methods of written persuasion. The class helps students become more thoughtful and effective legal writers by building on the research and writing skills established in LComm II. In the course students consider sources from within the law, including judicial opinions and persuasive briefs, as well as academic writing on the theories, strategies, and ethics of persuasion. Non-legal sources from advertising, journalism, entertainment, literature, popular culture, and politics are also read and discussed to identify what those sources reveal about effective persuasion. Persuasive writing is practiced by developing fluency with rhetorical and organizational techniques and a more sophisticated understanding of the impact of formatting, grammar, punctuation, and legal citation.

Discovery in Civil Litigation

After the initial pleadings in a civil case, how do the parties get the information they need from each other to prevail in the litigation? Did you read about the case where, after a jury verdict of over $10 million in favor of the plaintiff, the court sanctioned the plaintiff and the plaintiff’s lawyer over $700,000 for destroying relevant documents that were requested by the defendant? This course explores the tension between zealously representing a client’s interests and fairly responding to discovery requests so as not to obstruct the process. This intensive writing course focuses on the specialized drafting and practical skills needed for successful civil litigation practice. Following the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, this course takes students through a hypothetical civil litigation problem, in which students are assigned attorney roles. Students also learn how to prepare discovery documents tailored to the demands of contemporary legal practice, how to interact with clients, colleagues, and opposing counsel, and how to collaborate with colleagues and opposing counsel to achieve the best result for the client. Students will also receive training in professionalism, oral advocacy, professional correspondence, and other essential litigation skills.

Effective Client Communications

This advanced legal writing course examines the attorney-client relationship and teaches students effective strategies for communicating with clients in verbal and written form. Did you read about the case where, after five years of intense litigation, the court discovered that it lacked jurisdiction and the plaintiff lack standing? The plaintiff's counsel failed to explore basic facts with his client. This course will help students to avoid such pitfalls by engaging in active and effective client communications. In addition, the course examines client communications throughout the life of a case, from the initial client meeting to final resolution. Students also conduct a client interview and, once hired, are responsible for all essential communications with that client. Students learn how to draft several client letters, including retainer, advice, status, and transmittal letters. Students furthermore learn when and how to use email rather than letters or other methods of communication. Following the communication guidelines set forth in the Model Rules of Professional Conduct, students are responsible for promoting client satisfaction, counseling clients through complex legal matters, and drafting letters that will enhance client development and management. Finally, students learn how to appropriately terminate the attorney-client relationship once the matter is resolved.

Electronic Discovery

This advanced writing course focuses on electronic discovery under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and the Local Rules of the Southern District of Florida. As companies continue to move from relying on paper documents to virtually paperless operations, electronically stored information (ESI) plays an increasingly crucial role in commercial litigation.

This course will study a broad range of topics relating to e-discovery in federal court. Students will examine the significant e-discovery case law and the e-discovery civil procedure rules. We will use hypothetical litigation problems where students will be assigned attorney roles. Students will study the preservation, collection, and production of relevant ESI; participate in e-discovery planning with opposing counsel and the court; prepare discovery documents tailored to uncovering ESI; work through e-discovery issues in litigation, such as costs, spoliation, sanctions, and attorney-client privilege.

The course will also provide a unique opportunity for students to have a hands-on experience with technology associated with ESI and e-discovery. We will collaborate with MiamiLex to study the differing forms and properties of ESI; and to explore the methods of data collection and data processing, including the use of data maps, search terms, predictive coding, filtering, and de-duplication.

Florida Legal Research Techniques

This course is designed to introduce students to Florida legal resources and to provide hands-on experience in using Florida print and electronic legal resources. The course goal is to provide students with the skills necessary to conduct effective and efficient research by emphasizing (i) the evaluation of resources, (ii) research strategies, and (iii) practical research concepts.

Introduction to Academic Writing

This course is designed to provide foundational training in scholarly writing, thus better preparing students to write law review articles. Students will receive instruction in topic selection, preemption checks, research, writing style, and citation/proper attribution. The class is open to any student candidate on any of the school’s law reviews and any student planning to write an independent study paper.

Completion of the course does not satisfy a graduation writing requirement. Students wishing to write an article for a writing requirement will work with an individual faculty advisor who will comment on and grade the article. The instruction provided in this course will be in addition to, not instead of, the individual faculty advising. Any student may work with a faculty advisor to write an article without enrolling in this course.

Judicial Writing

This course introduces students to one of the most prestigious and competitive employment opportunities for young lawyers. Judicial clerks have unparalleled access to a judge’s chambers and courtroom and gain an insider’s view of the judicial process. They have the opportunity to impact a judge’s decision-making and to develop relationships and writing skills that will advance their legal careers. This course introduces students to the various types of advanced legal writing they will encounter in judicial clerkships. Students practice the work of judicial clerks as they draft a bench brief in a case pending before the U.S. Supreme Court. In addition, students study a case progressing through Florida’s Third District Court of Appeal and draft a short opinion to become familiar with the complex view from the bench. Students further hone their writing skills by working on various in-class writing and editing assignments and by reviewing real-world examples from prominent legal writers, judges, and authors.

Legal Research Techniques

This course focuses on legal research strategy and resources. The resources include both print and online tools and tpics covered go well beyond the scope of the first-year course and highlight research tools and techniques used in practice. Considering the pace at which technology is changing research, the course emphasizes the strategy involved in selecting evaluating and using appropriate sources. By the end of the class, students will be able to conduct effective and efficient research.

Pretrial Litigation Practice

In this course, students will draft litigation documents not typically covered in Legal Communication and Research Skills, including pleadings, motions to compel electronic discovery, and motions related to expert witnesses. Students will represent either the plaintiff or the defendant in a hypothetical personal injury action. They will draft litigation documents that correspond to various stages of a civil action, from the initial demand letter through a dispositive motion. In addition to refining their writing skills, students will learn about products liability law, which is tested on the bar exam but is not always covered in Torts. Drawing on the professor’s extensive practice experience, this course will be fast-paced and will emphasize learning-by-doing and creative problem-solving.

Rule 56: Mastering Summary Judgment Motions

How can your client prevail without ever going to trial? How do you use pleadings and discovery to your client’s advantage? What is a genuine issue of material fact that would preclude summary judgment?

This advanced writing course is being offered in connection with Discovery in Civil Litigation. Students who have completed Discovery in Civil Litigation (Fall 2014) will write and argue summary judgment motions applying Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and the Local Rules of the Southern District of Florida. The case examined in the Discovery in Civil Litigation course will provide the factual basis for the summary judgment motions.

This course will emphasize persuasive writing and oral advocacy skills, including drafting a statement of undisputed material facts, writing a dispositive argument, and presenting a compelling oral argument. Students will represent either the plaintiff or defendant. Both sides will file motions for summary judgment and responses to their opponent’s motion. Finally, students will present oral argument on the motions.

The Courts Beat

This course is for journalism and law students who are interested in gaining real-world media experience. Students enrolled in The Courts Beat study a legal issue and write narrative-style journalism articles about their chosen topics. By doing so, students practice the work of legal affairs correspondents and learn investigative journalism and storytelling skills that are valuable to lawyers and journalists alike. In addition, students learn the intricacies of covering The Courts Beat, one of the most coveted assignments at any news organization. Students will have the opportunity to work with investigative journalists from the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting to develop their research and storytelling skills. For the final writing project, students identify a local legal issue to investigate. In addition to conducting legal research, students practice working in the field as reporters by attending court hearings, conducting interviews, and tracking down evidence and other source material. Some examples of legal issues that students may research include immigration, bankruptcy, foreclosures, adoption, environmental law, and wrongful convictions. Students investigate their legal issue with the goal of narrowing their focus to a specific, contemporary legal problem and putting a human face on the issue.

Transactional Drafting

In this course, students learn to draft, review, and negotiate basic commercial agreements. The course covers principles of contract law, the anatomy of a typical commercial contract (in the United States), and the role of the legal practitioner as contract drafter. The course also addresses rules of contract interpretation, style and usage, matters of organization, and more substantively, how various contract terms allocate risk and responsibility between parties and create various legal consequences.

Trial Strategies

This course offers an on-site look at legal practice in Miami courtrooms. The class will meet every other week in court to observe trials and hearings. In the weeks between visits, the class will meet on campus to discuss and critique the attorneys’ strategies observed in court. The course will end with a substantive paper developing those critiques.

Writing & Editing for Lawyers

This course allows students to build on and reinforce the skills introduced in Legal Communication & Research Skills I and II. It provides students with additional opportunities to engage in realistic writing projects to strengthen their transition to legal practice. Emphasis is placed on writing as a recursive process, guiding students though the outlining, drafting, revising, and editing stages. Students receive detailed feedback on their writing from the instructor, and class size is limited to ensure a high level of individual attention.

Learn More

LCOMM BROCHURE

HEAR FROM STUDENTS

LComm Program Overview (Webisode #1): This video features students who discuss LComm's benefits. LComm Professors Jill Barton and Christina Frohock moderate.

What Are Writing Assignments Like? (Webisode #2): Hear 1L students describe the steps taken to analyze a legal problem and write about it.

THIRD DISTRICT COURT OF APPEAL

First-year law students have the opportunity each year to observe the judicial process when the Third DCA holds oral arguments at the University of Miami.

WRITING COMPETITIONS: A WAY TO TAKE YOUR WRITING TO A NEW LEVEL

laptopMiami Law encourages students to showcase their writing skills by entering national writing competitions. Sponsoring organizations and law firms typically offer generous cash awards and resume-boosting recognition to top writers. Click here for a list of other writing competitions.