Legal Research and Writing Curriculum
Rigorous First-Year Requirement
As a leader in legal research and writing education, Stetson requires seven credits of legal research and writing in the first year of law school, four in the first semester. The courses emphasize legal problem solving, analytical methods, research strategies and techniques, and effective predictive and persuasive communication.
Professionalism is a core value in Stetson's legal research and writing courses; from the beginning, students are expected to meet the ethical demands of lawyers, including the professional obligations of competency, diligence, autonomy and integrity. Low student-to-professor ratios in legal writing courses increase classroom interaction, and students are expected to perform as lawyers in the classroom. Extensive feedback on writing assignments helps support students' professional growth.
As an enhancement to its first-year required oral and written advocacy course, Stetson offers a number of "subject-focused" advocacy courses. Past offerings have included a focus on learning advocacy skills in the context of elder law, environmental law, and international law. In those courses, students learn advocacy skills by working on projects from a particular subject area. In the elder law course, for example, students wrote a motion to invalidate a will on the basis of duress, researched and wrote memoranda on elder abuse law, researched and wrote a memo on Medicare law, and wrote an appellate brief for and orally argued an age discrimination case. In environmental law, students worked on projects related to natural gas hydraulic fracturing, and in international law they explored international advocacy in the context of immigration and jurisdictional issues. In addition to focused research and writing work, students heard from experts, including judges, lawyers, faculty, policymakers, and advocates, about the application of advocacy in their respective fields.
Advanced Upper-Level Curriculum
After their first year, Stetson ensures that law students have multiple opportunities to excel at researching and writing. Students can take advanced legal writing courses in topics such as writing for law practice, judicial writing, environmental advocacy, legal drafting, appellate advocacy, and pretrial practice. Students can write articles and serve as editors for Stetson's four law journals: Journal of International Aging Law and Policy, Journal of International Wildlife Law and Policy, Stetson Law Review, and Stetson Journal of Advocacy and the Law. Stetson's highly acclaimed Moot Court Board allows students to refine persuasive writing and oral advocacy skills. Upper-level students also serve as Legal Research and Writing Teaching Assistants.