We have a reputation for producing strong legal writers.
Law is a profession whose principal tool is language. The ability to use that language to craft concise, compelling legal writing is an essential skill—your clients’ livelihoods, freedom, even their lives depend on it.
This is why Iowa Law invests in a full-time writing faculty—and we’re one of the few top-tier law schools to do so. We have six full-time writing faculty committed to developing your analytical thinking and persuasive writing skills. Our writing faculty are experienced attorneys who are also award-winning teachers and published authors who speak frequently at local, regional, and national conferences.
You’ll take 5 credits of legal analysis, writing & research as a first-year student. Through intensive, individualized attention, including 3–6 one-on-one conferences each semester, you’ll deepen your understanding of law and develop the tools to be an effective legal communicator as you learn to apply the law to real-world legal problems.
After your first year, you will complete four more writing credits with flexibility to pick the writing courses that meet your career goals. And, Iowa Law offers many writing and oral advocacy competitions, including appellate advocacy, international and domestic appellate advocacy competitions, and oral advocacy focused on intellectual property. Iowa Law also offers advanced research instruction through our highly skilled research librarians, all of whom have JDs and library science degrees.
When the time comes for your first job, you’ll have the research and writing prowess, the sharp intellect, the analytical habits of mind, and the confidence in your abilities to set you apart in the market.
"Legal writing requires a completely different way of thinking and expressing yourself. And it’s the defining skill when the time comes to get that first job. We will prepare you."
Writing and Academic Success Center
The Writing & Academic Success Center serves two primary functions. First, it serves as an extension of the first-year Legal Analysis, Writing, and Research classroom. The Center staff meets with first through third year students on course assignments, journal articles, writing samples, and the like, providing feedback on organization, clarity, style, citation, and grammar.
The Writing Center staff can also refer students to other resources to help them achieve their writing goals. The Center offers a variety of appointments to meet student needs, including thirty-minute tutoring sessions and drop-in citation services. The Center is staffed by Dawn Anderson, Professor of Legal Analysis, Writing & Research and Director of the Writing & Academic Success Center, and a team of upper-level students trained to give students effective feedback on their writing. If you have questions, e-mail the Center at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Second, the Writing & Academic Success Center also provides academic support services to all students. The Center provides several programs on law school success skills such as time management, exam preparation skills, exam taking skills, and critical reading skills. In the Spring, the Center offers a 9-week workshop on academic success skills. The Center also offers individual appointments to discuss any questions students have about academic skills or law school success. Schedule an appointment through the Center’s scheduling system.
Legal Writing Competitions
There are more than 150 legal writing competitions hosted around the country each year. A wide range of companies, organizations, and law schools sponsor these competitions, which usually focus on a particular topic or practice area. Prizes range from cash to travel to publication of the winning papers.
The iCompete Writing site, created and hosted by Suffolk University in Boston, displays the competitions by topic or by the month of the submission deadline. Each entry displays the name of the competition, its deadline, the prizes, and a link to an official page with more information. Similarly, the Legal Essay Contest Catalog of Richmond School of Law filters by categories, prize amount, and deadline, with convenient links to the various competition websites.
Director: Dawn Anderson, Professor of Legal Analysis, Writing & Research
2023-2024 Research Assistants:
- Sydney Erickson
- Maxine Kasznia
- Katrina Crouch
- Eyasu Yirdaw
- Austin Quinn
- Isabel Wallace
- Anna Roskamp
- Jane Jozefowicz
- Joann Mulholland
- Kallee Hooley
- Thania Rios
Legal writing isn’t just another form of expository prose, and it matters who teaches it.
That’s why we’ve invested in a full-time writing faculty, instead of using Teaching Assistants or adjuncts, to help you develop this essential skill. Our students say that Iowa’s reputation for producing great legal writers makes a difference in the most competitive job markets.
"LAWR faculty members, all former practicing attorneys, bring their real world experiences to the classroom. We work hard to simulate the mentoring relationship between a senior attorney and junior attorney in law practice."
“Analysis is the key to strong legal writing. We will take you through the process—from research to editing—to provide you with the skills you need to succeed as a lawyer.”