University of Pittsburgh

Upper Level Legal Writing Requirement (Faculty Supervised Writing Requirement)

  1. All students in order to graduate must successfully fulfill a faculty supervised writing requirement.
  2. A faculty supervised writing shall be defined as a paper of at least 15 pages, evidencing significant legal or empirical research and thoughtful writing and shall be written exclusively by the student seeking credit.
  3. A faculty supervised writing shall by definition require at least two drafts.  The first draft will be submitted to the faculty advisor who will return the draft with a detailed critique.  The final draft must take into account and seek to remedy the criticisms offered by the faculty advisor.
  4. The final draft must ordinarily be graded by a full-time faculty member.  Where the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs finds it appropriate, adjunct faculty members will be allowed to supervise and grade papers submitted for the writing requirement in conjunction with a seminar.
  5. All papers submitted in satisfaction of the faculty-supervised writing requirement must be of substantial length requiring the student to explore, on the basis of significant research in legal sources, the interrelationships of issues presented in a complex context.  So defined, formats satisfying the writing requirement could include, though need not be limited to, the following:
    1. A seminar paper in the nature of a law review article;
    2. A trial or appellate brief;
    3.  An internal memorandum written to a client, which analyzes an issue or issues presented for decision or action;
    4. A set of legal documents or a suggested plan of action accompanied by a memorandum of law explaining and justifying the choices made in the documents or plan;
    5. A legal writing independent study for 1 or 2 credits; or
    6. An additional comment written by a third-year Senior Staff member of the Law Review, or the Journal of Law and Commerce, or the Pittsburgh Journal of Technology Law Policy who has already written a comment, note or similar writing to satisfy the requirement for membership in and academic credit for the publication, if a faculty member has supervised the additional work and certifies that the paper meets the standards for satisfying the requirement.  (Double credits, e.g., credit for both Law Review and an independent study may not be earned, and the student may receive no editorial assistance from other members of the Law Review, Journal, or TLP until after the faculty member’s certification if this option is selected.)
  6. A paper will not satisfy the writing requirement unless the final draft of the paper receives a grade of at least B-.  (See Grading, #5, below, for the instructor’s options in grading that paper.)
  7. Students will be eligible to satisfy the writing requirement in either their second or third year.
  8. Students must register for the specific course titled “Legal Writing Independent Study” for 1 or 2 credits in order for the course to receive a letter grade and be counted toward the upper level writing requirement.

Administration of the Writing Requirement Program

  1. In order to qualify as a seminar, an elective must require a paper which, if successfully completed, would satisfy the writing requirement.  Thus, at a minimum, a seminar instructor must require 2 drafts of a seminar paper and must return the first draft with a detailed critique.
  2. Students may register for seminars of their choice.  All reasonable attempts will be made to enroll students in the seminar of their first choice.  Priority of enrollment will be given to those third-year students who have never taken a seminar.  Students will be allowed to take more than one seminar, but each student will have to give notice to the Registrar’s Office as to which seminar or legal writing independent study will be used to fulfill the writing requirement.
  3. Enrollment in seminars will be 12 students, unless by special authorization of the Dean, a lower limit is allowed.
  4. Seminars will be for three hours of credit.
  5. Grading.  A seminar or legal writing independent study grade may but need not be the same as the grade received on the final draft of the paper satisfying the writing requirement.  That is, the grading on the final draft may be only one component used to determine the grade given for the seminar or legal writing independent study.  Hence, the seminar or legal writing independent study grade may be less than B- so long as the B- standard is achieved for the final draft of the writing requirement.
  6. Credit.  The paper written to satisfy the writing requirement may not be used to gain academic credit beyond the credit assigned to the course, seminar, or independent study in which the paper satisfying the writing requirement was written.  However, subject to the Policy on Written Work for Credit, students will be allowed to use the paper for such other purposes as they believe appropriate.  Thus, a student would be allowed to submit his or her writing requirement paper to one of the law reviews or to any other student activity in fulfillment of that activity’s requirements or for possible publication if permitted by the activity.  However, the student would not obtain additional academic credit for that activity unless academic credit for that activity did not depend on the use of the faculty supervised writing.
  7. Legal writing independent study shall be administered on a semester basis.  However, faculty members supervising a writing requirement independent study project in the fall semester may, at their discretion, set the final deadline for the paper as late as March 1.
  8. During the fall semester, the final deadline for seminar papers submitted to satisfy the writing requirement may, at the discretion of the instructor, be set as late as February 1.
  9. Faculty members have no authority to extend deadlines for fall semester independent study and seminar papers that are not written to satisfy the writing requirement.
  10. With respect to seminars and legal writing independent study courses scheduled for the spring semester, instructors are encouraged to require students to meet in the fall semester prior to November 1, for the purpose of commencing work on the writing requirement.  All papers are due in the spring semester on the last day of final exams by 12 noon unless the instructor imposes an earlier deadline.  Faculty members do not have the authority to extend a deadline later than the last day of final exams, whether or not the paper is written to satisfy the writing requirement.
  11. Failure to satisfy the deadline for the final draft of a seminar or legal writing independent study paper will result in the automatic entry of an “F” grade for the writing requirement.

Revised 09/28/2011 | Copyright 2011 | Site by UMC