Through the Writing Center, Southwestern offers individualized assistance, workshops, and courses geared toward making students better legal writers. With content-based and process-based instruction, students learn to evaluate and rewrite their work, become more confident in their written product and are more prepared for today's legal workplace.
"There is no great writing, only great rewriting."
~Justice Louis Brandeis
Courses for Entering Students
Introduction to Legal Writing gives pre-law students a head start in their legal education. Serving as a bridge between undergraduate education and law school, the course provides students with the opportunity to practice writing in an intellectually demanding, but pressure-free law school environment. The course also provides an extensive introduction to legal writing and other skills necessary to succeed in law school.
NOTE: A fee is charged for this course.
Programs for First-Year Students
Southwestern offers individualized assistance to students identified by their LAWS faculty as needing help with grammar, punctuation and basic writing skills. The Center's Writing Specialists and Fellows work to develop students' basic writing skills so these students can better focus on the material their LAWS professors are teaching. The feedback will conform to any restrictions given by individual professors.
In addition, the Writing Center holds numerous workshops throughout the year that focus on developing students' legal writing and revision skills. Workshops vary year-to-year based on student need. Past workshops have included Game Plans for Revision: Learn to Self-Edit One Issue at a Time; Writing Better Sentences: Concision and Precision; Mastering Mechanics; Self-Editing; Citation Review; and Grammar and Punctuation review.
Programs for Upper Division Students
Once students have completed their first year, they have open access to the services at the Writing Center.
- Individual Legal Writing Assistance: Students can meet with the Director of the Writing Center to review seminar papers, externship assignments, law review and law journal articles, cover letters, and writing samples. Students are welcome to visit at any stage of their writing - from brainstorming to polishing. The feedback will conform to any restrictions given by individual professors or externship supervisors.
- Individualized General Writing Assistance: Students can meet with a Writing Specialist for help with basic non-legal writing skills like grammar and punctuation.
- Workshops: The Writing Center offers writing workshops throughout the year to help students understand the structure of seminar papers, the process of research and writing a seminar paper and advanced citation format. The Writing Center also co-sponsors workshops with the Career Services Office to help students present well-written materials as part of their application for a job or an externship.
- Courses: Refining Your Legal Writing is a one-unit course designed to give students one-on-one instruction with a legal writing instructor. Students learn to hone their legal writing skills by rewriting a paper from the first-year Legal Analysis, Writing and Skills course. Admission to the course is by invitation only.
- Note: Because of the SCALE® program's unique schedule, Refining Your Legal Writing is offered in a different format during Period VII to those in the SCALE 2.5 year program.
- Materials: The Writing Center maintains learning materials, presentations, exercises and a list of URLs that are available to students to assist with improving writing at their own pace.
Details on the Writing Center's hours and appointment policy can be found on the Writing Center TWEN page.
Current students can also find additional details and resources on the MySWLAW portal.