Legal Writing and Research

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Western State students take a year-long sequence, Legal Writing and Research I and II, during their first year of law school that is focused on developing the practical skills lawyers use most: legal research, analysis, writing, and oral advocacy.

Throughout the year, students receive fact patterns and background information on various “clients” and then research, read and analyze the law so they can advise and advocate for their client. The client situations are generally based on current legal issues in criminal and civil law. Students draft multiple forms of legal communications, including legal memoranda, court briefs, settlement letters, and professional emails. Students receive both group and individual instruction throughout the year, and personalized feedback at various stages of the writing process. With an emphasis on preparing students for legal practice, the program trains students to use not only “traditional” book-based legal research resources and the major paid online search engines (such as Westlaw, Lexis, and Bloomberg), but also emphasizes the many online sources that are available at no cost and that lawyers use most often.

The first year course also integrates professionalism. As part of this focus, each semester, lawyers and judges – generally Western State alums – are invited to speak with students in class regarding professionalism in practice. Students see and hear real-life application of what they have the opportunity to learn in class, and they are able to engage in valuable networking opportunities right in the classroom. During the second semester, students also have the opportunity to visit the California Court of Appeals for the 4th District, observe oral arguments, and afterward, discuss matters of substance and presentation with the appellate justices.

Significant class time during the second semester is devoted to developing, organizing, and practicing oral arguments. The course culminates in a 1L Moot Court Competition in which every student participates. For many students, this is the highlight of their first year! Students present their final oral argument before a panel of lawyers and judges. The top oralists from the 1L Moot Court Competition are invited to the Final Rounds, held on campus in the Darras Moot Court Room; faculty, students and family members of the finalists are invited to observe these Final Rounds, giving students their first taste of a “real” moot court competition.


Students have the opportunity to hone their skills in upper level writing courses as well. These courses are often taught by lawyers and judges, so students get real-world exposure to the research and writing skills used in practice. Students can choose courses based on their interests, including Immigration Law, Administrative Law, Juvenile Law, and Domestic Violence. These courses are taught in small sections, giving students the opportunity to work closely with their professors and receive personalized one-on-one feedback on their written work.


  • LAW365 Honors Writing
  • LAW401 Administrative Law 3 Credits
  • LAW402 Advanced Appellate Advocacy 2 Credits*
  • LAW462 Copyright Law 3 Credits
  • LAW615 Death Penalty 3 Credits
  • LAW400 Domestic Violence 3 Credits
  • LAW582 Moral and Ethical Dilemmas for the New Lawyer 3 Credits
  • LAW460 Corporate Finance and Accounting for Lawyers 3 Credits
  • LAW444 International Business Transactions 3 Credits
  • LAW447 Juvenile Law 3 Credits
  • LAW580 Law of Vice 3 Credits
  • LAW454 National Security 3 Credits
  • LAW483 Sports Law 3 Credits
  • LAW545 White Collar Crime 3 Credits
  • LAW623 Wills and Trusts Drafting* 2 Credits

*Satisfies the Upper Division Writing Requirement and counts towards the six credit Advanced Professional Skills Requirement.

Founded in 1966, Western State College of Law is the oldest law school in Orange County, Southern California, and is fully ABA approved. Western State College of Law’s 11,000+ alumni are well represented across public and private sector legal practice areas, including 150 California judges and about 15% of Orange County’s Deputy Public Defenders and District Attorneys.

16715 Von Karman Ave., #100
Irvine, CA 92606

Programs, credential levels, technology and scheduling options are subject to change. Western State College of Law at Westcliff University, 16715 Von Karman Ave., #100, Irvine, CA 92606 © 2020 Western State College of Law. All rights reserved. Our email address is

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