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Legal Research and Writing Program

Overview

Stanford Law School’s Legal Research and Writing Program educates students to meet the highest standards of the legal profession.  Our first priority is to teach students the legal analysis and writing they will do as practicing lawyers.  Most lawyers are professional writers—writing is the primary tool of our trade, and at Stanford Law School we take seriously our role teaching legal writing.

Yet not all law students become lawyers.  When our law students graduate, they serve as lawyers, law clerks, professors, government officials, activists and corporate executives.  They also regularly work with lay people and professionals from a wide range of other disciplines.  The skills we teach must thus be transferable across many professions.  Stanford’s LRW Program prepares students for the demands of working in diverse and changing environments by teaching students how to analyze sophisticated legal problems and to write clearly and persuasively.  In LRW, students develop analytical and communication skills to become agile writers and speakers.

The Legal Research and Writing Program is comprised of two courses.  The fall LRW course teaches students the fundamental aspects of lawyering: how to read a case; how to parse a statute; how to distinguish between material and immaterial facts; how to find legal authorities relevant to legal problems; how to analyze a legal issue using facts and law; and how to communicate legal analysis logically and concisely.

The winter and spring quarter course, Federal Litigation, covers an extended set of filings and oral arguments in the context of a pre-trial motion practice.  Throughout the year students receive rigorous training in reading and analyzing legal authority and in using theories of rhetoric and persuasion to engage their readers.

The Legal Research and Writing Program regularly collaborates with other University programs, such as the Program in Writing and Rhetoric (PWR) and the Center on Teaching and Learning, to help us develop and maintain a curriculum that comports with the best practices in writing pedagogy.  The Program also works with the University’s Hume Writing Center to provide a PWR lecturer to tutor law students on their writing here at the law school.