Top 10 Law Schools: Legal Writing
Legal writing skills are essential for future lawyers to acquire as research, analysis, and writing permeate all facets of the work lawyers do—from drafting memos, emails, and legal documents to perfecting oral arguments. Most law schools train their students in foundational lawyering skills, including writing, in the first year, but some programs have been nationally recognized for their legal writing faculty and curriculum.
Here are the top 10 law schools for legal writing, as ranked by U.S. News and World Report, and the median undergraduate GPAs and LSAT scores of recently enrolled students.
1Ls at the University of North Carolina School of Law take a Research, Reasoning, Writing, and Advocacy course that lasts the entire year, which provides foundational training in small class sections through simulating law office work. Select 3Ls are named Honors Writing Scholars and take a set of upper-level research and writing courses. The Writing and Learning Resources Center, which heads the Research, Reasoning, Writing, and Advocacy Program at UNC is staffed by faculty and law students and is committed to training all students in the strategic analytic reading and writing skills required of lawyers.
The UNC School of Law Class of 2021 had a median undergraduate GPA of 3.59 and a median LSAT score of 161.
8. (tie) University of Denver (Sturm)
Sturm College of Law introduces students to vital research, analysis, and lawyering skills through its Lawyering Process Program, which culminates in a mock oral argument in front of the Colorado Court of Appeals. Students learn how to “write and think like a lawyer,” according to the school, through classwork and practical simulation exercises, including mock interviews with prospective clients and partners. Additional support is offered to students throughout their law school careers from Sturm’s Legal Writing Clinic, which provides assistance with writing assignments in students’ classes, offers annual workshops, and helps students with writing samples in their job search.
The JD entering class in 2019 at Sturm College of Law had a median LSAT score of 159 and a median undergraduate GPA of 3.49.
8. (tie) The John Marshall Law School
The University of Illinois John Marshall Law School’s Lawyering Skills Program is “one of the most rigorous research/writing programs nationwide,” according to the school, spanning four semesters. The school takes a holistic approach to writing education, recognizing that the skill is multifaceted and layered, involving research, analysis, and a grounding in the legal system. In addition to coursework, students can receive additional training through the school’s Writing Resource Center, which hosts interactive writing workshops and one-on-one coaching sessions.
The John Marshall Law School Class of 2021 had a median LSAT score of 149 and a median undergraduate GPA of 3.18.
5. (tie) Wake Forest University
First-year students at Wake Forest University School of Law are taught in seminar format in their year-long Legal Analysis, Writing, and Research class, where they prepare memos and briefs. Students must also fulfill two legal research & writing requirements in their second year, choosing from a variety of higher-level courses across many topics, including “Contracts and Commerical Transactions,” “Criminal Litigation Drafting,” “Legal Writing for Judicial Chambers,” and “Lobbying Theory and Practice.”
The Wake Forest University School of Law Class of 2022 had a median LSAT score of 162 and a median undergraduate GPA of 3.68.
5. (tie) University of Oregon
University of Oregon School of Law takes the viewpoint that legal writing should be easy to understand, and teaches students to strive for directness and clarity in their writing. The bulk of the focused legal writing curriculum is in the first year, starting with objective writing in the fall semester and continuing on to persuasive writing in the spring semester. Professor Elizabeth Ruiz Frost hosts regular “Just Write” sessions throughout the year, inviting students to write for hours at a time in a distraction-free environment. The Galen Program—established in 2013 after a gift from alumnus Morris J. Galen—runs upper-level courses in writing, hosts a scholar in legal writing annually, and recognizes outstanding students through awards each year.
The Class of 2021 at the University of Oregon School of Law had a median LSAT score of 157 and a median undergraduate GPA of 3.38.
5. (tie) Arizona State University (O’Connor)
Arizona State University Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law offers students a diverse array of legal writing courses throughout their law school education. Foundational courses in legal writing are administered in sections limited to 20 or fewer students in the first year. The curriculum is designed not only to prepare students for their eventual careers, but also to adequately equip students for work they pursue while still in school, including clerkships and summer jobs.
The fall 2019 entering JD class at ASU law had a median LSAT score of 164 and a median undergraduate GPA of 3.81.
3. (tie) Suffolk University
Boston’s Suffolk University Law School has been ranked on this list continuously since 2013. First-year students are required to take the Legal Writing Program, a full-year course which trains students in research, analysis, writing, and oral argument skills. Uniquely, faculty produce podcasts on legal topics that are incorporated in the Legal Writing Program coursework. The school’s dedication to legal writing is reflected by its Legal Writing Matters blog, which features stories, advice, and perspectives from faculty, alumni, and current students on legal writing experiences.
The Suffolk University Law School Class of 2021 had a median LSAT score of 153 and a median undergraduate GPA of 3.36.
3. (tie) Stetson University
Stetson University College of Law runs an Institute for the Advancement of Legal Communication, which provides supports students, faculty, and scholars at the university, in addition to offering instruction in communication skills to lawyers and judges. In addition to required foundational courses in legal writing, the school offers select students the opportunity to participate in the Institute’s Advanced Legal Writing and Communication Skills Development Program, an extracurricular year-long program in which faculty lead workshops on various topics. Students can also serve as writers or editors for any of Stetson’s four law journals.
The Stetson Law Class of 2021 had a median LSAT score of 155 and a median undergraduate GPA of 3.36.
Seattle Unversity School of Law requires all law students to complete three semesters of legal writing and offers upper-level courses as well. Coursework is practice-focused, and students get to work with real clients as 1Ls on cases involving social justice issues. The legal writing curriculum is integrated throughout the law school—clinical faculty work with legal writing faculty to ensure that work students complete in their practical training builds on their foundational writing courses. The school also offers a separate online certificate in Effective Legal Writing that’s available to students not enrolled in the school.
The Seattle University School of Law Class of 2022 had a median undergraduate LSAT score of 155 and a median undergraduate GPA of 3.38.
UNLV William S. Boyd School of Law students are required to take three Lawyering Process courses over three semesters—the first and second courses are completed in the first year, and students must complete the third at some point before graduating. According to the school, “Boyd faculty members have won nearly every award given for teaching and scholarship in legal writing,” and legal writing has been a center point of the Boyd curriculum since the school was founded in 1998.
The fall 2019 entering class at Boyd had a median LSAT score of 159 and a median undergraduate GPA of 3.69.
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