UWP 104B

Writing in the Professions: Law

  1. Catalog Description

    UWP 104B. Writing in the Professions: Law (4) Lecture/discussion-3 hours; extensive writing. Prerequisite: course 1 or English 3 or the equivalent and upper division standing. Advanced principles of critical thinking, argumentation, and style, with special emphasis on their application to situations in the legal profession. Suitable for students planning careers in law, business, administration, or management. GE credit: Wrt (cannot be used to satisfy a college or university composition requirement and GE writing experience simultaneously). -I, II, III (I, II, III.)

  2. Course Goals
  • To teach students the process of writing and revising within a legal context
  • To place students in hypothetical situations that approximate legal realities and that foster the students' awareness of the rhetorical stances (writer-audience-topic) that legal professionals must commonly take on
  • To give students practice in the particular kind of thinking and problem solving used in the legal profession
  • To help students to formulate written responses to particular rhetorical problems
  • To teach students some of the conventions of writing in the legal profession
  • To give students practice in writing legal arguments based on case law and precedent
  • To teach students to read closely examples of legal writing, to extract important and relevant issues, and to apply those issues to new situations
  1. Entry Level

    Students should have completed UWP 1 or ENL 3 or the equivalent and have upper division standing. They should be familiar with the general principles of good writing, including organization, development, sentence structure, grammar, and punctuation.

  2. Topical Outline
  • Writing for different audiences
  • The problem of language and style: writing with force and economy
  • Reading and writing from different perspectives
  • Organizing facts and details: close reading and summary
  • Writing objectively vs. writing as an advocate; the problem of perspective
  • Basic principles of argumentation: evidence, logic, ethical and emotional appeal
  • Logical fallacies and other problems or errors in reasoning
  • Establishing and using criteria for making judgments: arguing based on rules, not ideas
  • Reading and analyzing legal opinion--style and tone in legal argument
  • Applying rules to facts in legal arguments
  • Understanding the role of precedent in case law
  • Using case law to support legal arguments
  • Writing the legal memorandum
  1. Criteria for Grading
  1. The course will be graded by a letter grade.
  2. Grades will be based on the students' performance on in- and out-of-class assignments. The requirement for the course is 6000 words of graded writing assignments. Students fulfill the writing requirement through 5 or 6 graded assignments and a final exam; most of the assignments are short (100 to 1200 words), but at least one is a sustained legal argument (over 2000 words). These assignments may require students to focus on facts (e.g., distinguishing facts from opinions); to summarize legal cases (e.g., writing case briefs); to synthesize disparate statements (e.g., distilling a statement of facts from witness depositions); to build analogies (e.g., comparing precedent cases to present cases); to analyze and construct arguments (e.g., using precedent cases to argue one side of a hypothetical case); to view facts and issues from different perspectives (e.g., arguing different sides of a case); and to write for different audiences (e.g., composing memos for employers and clients). At least one, but no more than two of the graded assignments (and this may include the mid-term and final exam) should involve writing under time pressure in-class. The assignments are sequenced from less complex tasks to more complex.
  1. Reading

    Suggested textbooks are C. Edward Goode, Mightier than the Sword . Charlottesville , VA : Blue Jeans Press, 1989 or Lynn B. Squires and Marjorie Dick Rombauer, Legal Writing in a Nutshell . St. Paul , Minn. : West Pub. Co. , 1982. In addition, instructors will prepare collections of readings that include legal opinions, published cases, excerpts from legal textbooks, samples of professional legal writing, journal articles about the legal profession and about legal writing, and other relevant materials.

  2. Explanation of Potential Course Overlap

    UWP 104B does not overlap with any other courses. It is distinguished from UWP 101, Advanced Composition, by its focus on the kinds of critical thinking, writing, and reading skills required in the legal profession.

  3. Justification of Units

    UWP 104B is a four-unit course. Three hours per week is lecture/discussion. An additional unit of credit is justified by the significant amount of work that students must do outside of class time to plan, draft, and revise the 6000 words of required writing. (The written requirement is equivalent to a term paper.) In addition to this substantial written requirement, students will meet individually with the instructor for discussion and evaluation of each students work.