This course is designed to help students improve their ability to analyze and write about complicated legal issues. You should expect to do a lot of writing this semester. Our topics include three current controversial legal issues: social host liability, the constitutionality of gay marriage, and indeterminate detention of enemy combatants at Guantanamo Bay. You will learn how to read and understand court cases and how to find your way around a law library. Writing assignments include your own resume, a job application letter, case briefs, memorandum, opinion-editorial articles, and a short research paper. Assignments are written from the perspective of a lay person writing to another lay person. Satisfactory completion of this course fulfills your junior year writing requirement for the Department of Legal Studies.
- work through any anxiety about writing
- learn how to think critically about legal issues
- learn how to write critically about legal issues
- learn how to find legal materials in the library or on-line
- review basic rules of grammar
- learn how to format documents including a formal research paper
Required: Course Packet, Collective Copies, 71 S. Pleasant Street
Recommended: Hacker, Diane. A Writer’s Reference, Boston: St. Martin’s Press (or any other writer’s reference) and Merriam Webster Dictionary (or any other dictionary)
PLAGIARISM You are expected to abide by the University’s regulations on plagiarism. Any work that is plagiarized will not be accepted and, if intentional, will result in disciplinary action. If you have any questions at all about what acts constitute plagiarism, talk to your instructor.
MANDATORY REQUIREMENTS FOR ALL WRITTEN WORK
EVALUATION. Course grades will be determined as follows:
- Type all assignments, double spaced, with one inch margins all around.
- Number all pages; put your name only in the upper right corner of the first page.
- Use 11 or 12 point type.
- Do not include title pages or covers.
- Hand in all written assignments at the beginning of class.
- Make every effort to hand in all assignments on time. If you have a legitimate excuse, you may have an extension, but you must get approval before the assignment is due.
- 09% Completion of rough drafts and outlines
- 82% Average of all writing assignments
- 09% Three library assignments
Cases. You will be reading and briefing cases from the United States Supreme Court, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, the Hawaii Supreme Court and the Vermont Supreme Court. For the first two cases we read, you will prepare a draft and a final copy of a brief. It should be 2-3 pages long and follow the prescribed format described in the case brief assignment in your course packet. All cases you need to read have been edited and are in the course packet and on the website. It is not recommended that you read the unedited cases using Lexis-Nexis.
Writing Assignments. The other writing assignments ask you either to explain a legal issue to a lay person or to take a reasoned position on a controversial subject. These assignments are included in the course packet and on the website. The writing assignments vary in length from 2 to 6 pages. The second memorandum and the research paper should be 5-6 pages long and will count double for grading purposes.
Revisions. You will have the opportunity to revise all writing assignment. Revisions are due no later than the third class following the class when the original writing assignment is returned. If you do a revision, your grade will be weighted 40% for the first version and 60% for the revision.
Legal research assignments. You will have three assignments to complete in the law library on the 5th floor of the DuBois Library or using LEXIS-NEXIS.
Class participation and grades. Because our class depends on the informed participation of everyone, attendance at all classes is required. We will keep track of your attendance and your level of class participation, and we will take this into consideration in determining your final grade.