The Legal Research and Writing Program at Maine Law teaches students important skills through large and small group sessions, lectures by visiting judges and lawyers, and observation of arguments in the Maine Supreme Judicial Court. Students receive extensive written comments on all drafts of every assignment and have many opportunities to meet individually with their legal writing professor, reference librarian, and student legal writing teaching assistant.
First Year Program
The fall semester of the legal writing program focuses on fundamental skills needed for lawyers. These fundamental skills include: an understanding of the United States legal system and legal discourse; an understanding of the hierarchy of legal authorities; basic research skills in print and electronic sources; an ability to read and analyze statutes and cases; an ability to analyze facts; an understanding of the components of legal analysis and writing; effective objective, predictive writing skills; effective client communication skills; proper citation form; and professionalism in all communications. Students practice these skills by writing a judicial opinion for a case on appeal in the Maine Supreme Judicial Court and an objective memo and opinion letter involving a hypothetical legal problem, which they must research throughout the semester. Students also practice professional emails and oral communication.
The spring semester builds on these fundamental skills, and also focuses on persuasive writing and oral advocacy. Using increasingly complex problems, the students write a trial brief or motion and research and write an appellate brief. Near the end of the semester, the students argue their briefs before panels of judges comprised of judges and lawyers from the community. The year ends with an exam to assess the skills taught during both semesters.