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First Year Course Content & Pedagogy

The Professional Practice and Legal Writing Department program consists of a full-time Director and full-time Professors of Professional Practice devoted solely to teaching research, analysis, and writing in a legal context.

The department’s mission is to ensure that, by the end of the first year of law school, all students possess the fundamental research and writing skills needed to begin a clerkship position in a law practice setting. The students are required to complete research and writing exercises that expose them to legal resources in common law, federal law, and Louisiana law. This well-rounded experience readies every student to begin a clerkship in any state in the nation.

The first semester includes an introduction to legal research of primary and secondary sources using Westlaw, Lexis, and BloombergLaw and selected print materials. The research process is designed to introduce the students to sources of state law and federal law, and exposure to statutes, digests, reporters, treatises, law reviews and other materials. Library tours may be provided in small sections. The students experience two rigorous writing experiences in this first semester as they prepare one state common law objective and predictive memorandum and then, for the final examination, prepare a lengthier federal law objective and predictive memorandum. The faculty review research paths or logs prepared by the students for each of the two assignments.

The second semester shifts from objective writing to persuasive writing and oral advocacy as well as introduces the students to research of civil law. Once again, the students must prepare a research path or log relative to the assignment. This research assignment requires use of both hard copy and electronic resources. Research education in this semester adds the dimension of tracking legislative history and locating legislative records to discern legislative intent. All students have a rigorous writing experience as they prepare an appellate brief for a “Moot Circuit Court of Appeal” in Louisiana. Additionally, the students are required to complete an appellate oral argument before a panel of judges based upon the submitted brief. Additional learning experiences include guest lecturers on oral advocacy and opportunities to attend oral arguments before the Louisiana First Circuit Court of Appeal.