Legal Research & Writing

Graduate with the Writing Skills the Law Demands

At Gonzaga University School of Law, you can expect more from our legal skills program. The difference starts with Legal Research and Writing. The program includes eleven credits of dedicated courses taught by faculty devoted to legal research and writing. We believe extensive training in legal research and writing is the cornerstone of a successful legal career. While most schools require only one year of legal writing classes, Gonzaga requires at least two. Two years provide an exceptional grounding in the practical and essential writing skills the law demands. Our required curriculum distinguishes us from most law schools. Gonzaga’s multiyear approach develops higher-level critical reasoning and writing skills beyond what a one-year program can achieve. Because classes are small, every student receives a great deal of individual attention.

Summer Legal Analysis

Accelerated and Early Start students begin their legal writing experience early, the summer before their first fall term. Summer Legal Analysis, a one-credit course, ensures that students understand the basics of legal reasoning, research, and citation to aid in a successful summer term.

First-Year Legal Research and Writing, I and II.

The full first-year course is a four-credit class. It focuses on competency in legal analysis, print and online research, and objective writing. Students become familiar with foundational legal sources, including constitutions, statutes, cases, administrative law, legislative history, and secondary sources as well. Students work on a series of increasingly complex research and writing projects that allows them to research multiple authorities and write a comprehensive analysis of the law. Individual conferences and rewrites are hallmarks of the first-year writing program.

Legal Research and Writing III

The third semester of legal research and writing is a two credit course which further develops and enhances analytical and writing skills. Students draft pre-trial and appellate briefs, focusing on persuasive organization and rhetoric.

Legal Research and Writing IV

Students choose one of three, two-credit course options for Legal Research and Writing IV.

Advanced Advocacy: This course further hones persuasive writing skills acquired in the Litigation Skills & Professionalism Lab and prior Legal Research and Writing courses. It also introduces oral advocacy. Students first research and write a trial memorandum. Students then work with co-counsel to research and write a complex appellate brief and present oral argument on that brief.

Drafting for Litigation: This course focuses on the skills necessary for drafting in litigation. Students draft various pleadings that include any of the following: complaints, answers, discovery requests/answers, motions, notices, proposed orders, jury instructions, and settlement agreements. This course builds on concepts first introduced in the Litigation Skills & Professionalism Lab and Legal Research and Writing III.

Transactional Drafting: This course develops skills necessary to draft effective transactional documents. It further refines skills acquired in the Transactional Skills & Professional Lab and the prior Legal Research and Writing courses. Transactional documents include a wide array of documents, both public and private, that attorneys draft, amend, interpret, enforce, defend, or litigate. The course emphasizes organization, accuracy, precision, and clarity by using simple and plain English to effect a desired outcome.

Third Year Advanced Legal Research

Students have the opportunity to take an advanced two-credit legal research course. This class builds on research skills developed in prior Legal Research and Writing courses. It specifically covers complex law-related sources in various formats and has students integrate these sources into one overall research strategy and a final written product.