Independent Legal Research
The American Bar Association (ABA) requires that every student produce a legal writing that reflects substance, originality, analysis, and rigor and accordingly, Touro Law Center's required curriculum includes completion of the Advanced Writing Requirement (AWR) described in section 2.3.2 (5) of the student handbook as a:
"legal writing that reflects substance, originality, analysis, and rigor."
But what does that really mean?
Touro Law Center's handbook goes on to say:
"in order to meet the AWR requirement, the student must engage in a significant piece of supervised legal research that culminates in a writing of at least 8,000 words, inclusive of footnotes, earning a grade of B or better.
The goals of the AWR are to provide students with an opportunity for:
1) engaging in independent legal research;
2) analyzing and making a sustained reflection on a particular area of law; and
3) experiencing an intense, faculty-supervised writing experience.
Writings that satisfy the AWR should reflect legal research, rigorous analysis of a substantive legal issue, and clarity of expression."
Did you notice the bolded text? The first step in completion of the AWR requires "engaging in independent legal research".
The good news is you are on the right track if you have gotten this far and the even better news is that this LibGuide will take you the rest of the way to completing your independent legal research.
But remember, the reference librarians created this LibGuide and they are available for any questions that come up.
Student Legal Writing
Student writing in the law school setting is very different from other graduate student writing projects.
Law student writing has the potential to reach an audience of:
A student legal paper if it gets published, may be relied upon for academic or professional support.
NOTE: Even if you don't plan on having anyone cite to your paper as a secondary authority, you should still take your AWR requirement very seriously. Your professor will.
The generally accepted standard for a publishable student legal paper is to bring something new to the existing legal literature. You should find a topic that does not duplicate another's work. Some guidelines to achieve this standard include:
raising new issues,
proposing new solutions, or
looking at existing issues in a new way.
It can be intimidating to think of finding a topic that is original and creative but there are resources that can help. This LibGuide will help you locate and use those resources and get you started on the road to a paper that meets the legal writing standard of originality and usefulness in the legal community as well as get you a good grade.
Touro Law Writing Center
Touro Law Writing Center
Room 418 (next to faculty offices)
Telephone: 631.761.7182; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Hours of Operation
Weekdays by Appointment
Ann L. Nowak
Throughout law school and your professional career, you must communicate with clarity and precision. The Writing Center helps law students strengthen their writing skills via:
- Individual Tutorials. Available by appointment, tutorials emphasize professional level writing skills that include self-editing and revision, as well as word choice, grammar, spelling, and punctuation.
- Pre-Publication Consultation. We offer editing advice on manuscripts that are being prepared for publication.
- Small-Group Workshops. Students learn and apply techniques for effective writing.
- Online Access. Students may e-mail questions concerning writing assignments or personal writing projects, as well as schedule appointments at any time.
Under the direction of Ann L. Nowak, Esq., the Writing Center’s staff of Teaching Assistants – upper level students who have demonstrated excellence in writing as well as in legal studies – help students learn how to create and complete a well-honed work product in which they can take pride.
There is a limit to what Writing Center TAs may offer, however:
- The Writing Center staff does not proofread or copyedit work. The Writing Center staff does not "correct" papers.
- The Writing Center staff does not discuss substantive issues in work students will hand in for a class.