Whittier Law School recognizes that strong writing and research skills are critical to a successful legal career. The Institute for Legal Writing and Professional Skills offers a rigorous and ambitious four-semester legal writing and professional skills program.
The comprehensive curriculum prepares students to effectively and efficiently transition from student to lawyer.
Seven full-time innovative professionals deliver a cutting edge legal education and work intensively with students throughout each year of law school.
Legal Writing I and II (4 credit hours)
Professional Skills I (2 credit hours)
Professional Skills II (2 credit hours)
All first-year students are required to take Legal Writing I and II, a year-long course designed to teach new law students the fundamentals of legal writing, legal analysis and reasoning, legal research, and oral advocacy. These classes are taught in small sections of 20 students by full-time writing professors who are dedicated to giving their students individualized attention and guidance on their assignments.
Each section of Legal Writing I and II is paired with a first-year casebook course. The professors from the two courses work together to offer students an integrated approach to learning across the curriculum. Students learn how to “connect the dots” between their casebook and writing courses, and can transfer those skills to other law school courses.
All second-year students are required to take a third semester of legal writing, entitled Professional Skills I, in either the fall or spring semester. One of the more common complaints new lawyers have about law school is that it does not teach them the nuts and bolts of law practice. Students leave law school with ample understanding of the substantive law, but little exposure to the types of activities lawyers engage in on a day-to-day basis. The purpose of Professional Skills I is to teach students how to work as lawyers immediately upon graduation.
Professional Skills I features the use of a single, semester-long simulation involving a legal dispute or a business transaction. Students may choose either simulation. Each student represents one client throughout the semester. Professional Skills I incorporates the skills that real lawyers have to use: substantive knowledge of the law, problem-solving, written and oral communication, legal analysis and reasoning, interviewing, factual investigation, counseling, negotiation, knowledge of the litigation or transactional process, organization and management of legal work, and recognizing and resolving ethical dilemmas.
All third-year students are required to take a fourth semester of legal writing, entitled Professional Skills II, in either the fall or spring semester. This course is designed to reinforce and strengthen the skills learned in Professional Skills I, those needed to practice law, as well as to prepare students to take the performance test increasingly found on bar exams. By using performance tests as tools for instruction, students learn how to read quickly but critically, to analyze law and facts, to follow direction, and to complete assignments in a timely manner. These skills are essential for successfully passing the bar exam and, for the long term, successfully practicing law.
Honors students can earn a legal writing certificate by completion of a capstone course in Advanced Legal Reasoning.