The Write Stuff: Legal Writing at Villanova
Strong communication skills are vital for a successful legal career, with employers rating proficiency in writing as the most important skill in new hires. At Villanova Law, we’re committed to preparing our students with the legal writing skills they need to be practice-ready, day one and beyond.
In our Duane Morris LLP Legal Writing Program, students are immersed in five rigorous semesters of legal writing courses, learning to write everything from a client-advising memo to a legal brief. The program has eight full-time professors of law, with over 90 years of combined teaching experience, who are committed to helping students hone the written and verbal skills needed for success in legal practice. Students in their third semester choose between a litigation-based course that focuses on appellate advocacy or a transactional-based course that focuses on drafting skills and client communication. Practical writing and research paper courses round out the writing curriculum, giving every student comprehensive experience writing in a variety of legal contexts.
Analhi Lizzaraga Burciaga ’21 gained experience in writing to advocate through the program. “For my third Legal Writing class, I chose Litigation/Appellate Advocacy, where we write and then present oral arguments at the Theodore L. Reimel Moot Court Competition,” said Burciaga. “I had not done much public speaking and wanted to challenge myself. I drew on that experience for my externship with Troutman Pepper’s pro bono immigration program. I spent most of my time researching and writing briefs for the Board of Immigration Appeals, working on behalf of detained immigrants. Because I speak Spanish, my clients really came to trust me and saw me as an ally. I had a client in Arizona who was released based on a brief I had written, which was truly rewarding.”
Villanova has a dedicated writing specialist on staff, who administers a writing diagnostic test to every first-year student and gives individual feedback in one-on-one conferences. In addition to individual meetings, several workshops are offered throughout the semester, including a session on preparing a writing sample in partnership with the Office of Career Strategy and Advancement. Students also have the opportunity to join three academic journals, where students gain hands-on legal writing and research experience, or the Moot Court Board, Villanova's principal oral advocacy organization which allows students to hone both writing and oral advocacy skills.