Colorado Law is committed to excellence in legal communication, as the ability to communicate effectively in writing is critical to the success of every attorney. Legal writing is not an isolated skill, but an integrated part of the well-recognized task of learning to think like a lawyer. Our goal is to equip students not only with strong essential legal communication skills but also with the flexibility to adapt and improve these skills once they enter the profession.
Dedicated Legal Writing Faculty
Colorado Law has seven full-time legal writing faculty dedicated to the field of legal writing:
First Year: Legal Writing Foundation
During the first year at CU Law, students take a year-long course which teaches them the essential tools needed for effective legal writing. During the fall semester, students learn how to analyze a practical legal problem and communicate that analysis in writing. Students write legal memoranda, letters, or e-mail messages, all with the goal of communicating practical legal analysis to the appropriate audience. In the spring semester, students turn to persuasive writing, learning how to appropriately craft legal documents to accomplish a client's objectives.
Legal Writing is taught in small sections. The transition to the legal writing universe is a challenging one for many students, as they are introduced to both an unfamiliar vocabulary and methods of organization and analysis. Accordingly, full-time faculty members teach legal writing in small sections of approximately 30 students.
Students receive extensive individual feedback. Students receive extensive written comments on their work, revise work in acocordance with their professor's suggestions, and meet one-on-one with their professor throughout the year.
Students engage in increasingly complex problems set in realistic contexts. First-year students begin by learning how to read a case, and complete increasingly complex assignments over the course of the year. Every student concludes the first year by producing an appellate brief and participating in an oral argument before a mock judicial panel of practicing attorneys. Every assignment requires students to use legal authorities in real-world ways.
Second and Third Year: Extensive Opportunities to Continue Developing Strong Writing Skills
Throughout the Colorado Law curriculum, students have opportunities to improve their written analytical skills. A broad array of choices makes it possible for students to design an individual legal writing curriculum in accordance with their own substantive areas of interest. Students can choose to build on the first-year legal writing foundation through advanced legal writing courses, seminars, journals, clinics, and independent legal research. Increasingly, second-and third-year doctrinal courses include writing components.
- Advanced Legal Writing Courses. Colorado Law's full-time legal writing faculty currently offer a number of advanced legal writing classes for students to choose from:
- Individual Support for Upper-Level Students. Colorado Law recently hired a new full-time legal writing faculty member to ensure that second- and third-year students continue to have access to one-on-one writing support throughout their law school career. Amy Griffin is the inaugural Student Legal Writing Engagement Coordinator.
- Journals. Colorado Law's three journals give students an opportunity to write a significant piece of scholarly work, with the guidance of journal editors and law school faculty. All three journals select several student articles for publication in each issue.
- Upper Level Seminars. Upper-class seminars provide every Colorado Law student with the opportunity to write a scholarly paper exploring a particular area of interest. Seminar papers are written with the guidance of a faculty member with expertise in that area.
- Clinics. Colorado Law's nine clinics offer the chance to develop legal writing skills in a real-world context. Under the supervision of Colorado Law's experienced clinical professors, Colorado Law students write actual legal documents for clients in need.
Writing Competitions and Awards
Colorado Law encourages all students to develop both their legal writing skills and their knowledge of a particular substantive area of the law by participating in one of the many national and local writing competitions. Students interested in participating in a writing competition should contact Amy Griffin, Student Legal Writing Engagement Coordinator.
There are currently three competitions designed specifically for and open only to Colorado Law students:
- Sandgrund Consumer Rights Award. The Sandgrund Award encourages and rewards writings by Colorado Law students that advance the field of consumer rights, especially the rights of homeowners. This recognition is sponsored by alumnus Ron Sangrund, 1982, and awards $1,000 to the winner.
- Silicon Flatirons Writing Competition Award. Fareger Baker Daniels sponsors this Silicon Flatirons competition, which awards a prize of $500. This award is given to the best paper about a topic involving law and technology, or law and entrepeneurship.
- Changing Legal Services Landscape Writing Competition. This new competition is sponsored by Cisco General Counsel Mark Chandler. Students are encouraged to propose creative solutions to challenges created by the new economic realities of the legal-services market. Papers might analyze issues related to increased competition and changing fee structures, the impasct of rapidly changing information technology on the legal market, or the effect of an increasingly globalized economy on the legal profession. The winner will be awarded $1,000.