Temple’s Legal Research and Writing Program has a distinguished national reputation for excellence. The hallmarks of Temple’s innovative program are its emphasis on real world practice, its ground-breaking approach to teaching, its distinguished faculty, and its unique specialized writing program for foreign lawyers.
In keeping with Temple’s commitment to introducing students to the “real world” of the practice of law, the intensive first year Legal Research and Writing course is a hands on course in which students are placed in the role of attorneys from the first day of class. One of the most innovative aspects of Temple’s program is that students learn to research and write by immersing themselves in the real life context of solving client legal problems in a way that reflects how they will work in summer jobs and later in practice. This gives Temple students a solid foundation of critical lawyering skills, enabling them to confront their first jobs with confidence. The “problem solving” nature of the course also gives students critical insight into the human side of law practice—truly, where law meets life.
Temple is a leader in legal research and writing education. It was among the first law schools in the nation to design its research and writing curriculum around the client problem and to teach through the problem solving method. In this way, Temple’s program gives students a good grasp on the lawyering process and is an accurate reflection of how lawyers really practice. Temple has a rigorous writing requirement, mandating 10 credits of writing for graduation, including two writing-intensive upper-level courses.
Temple’s approach to teaching research and writing is innovative and its curriculum serves as a model for many other schools. One of the key facets of Temple’s first year course is the integrated teaching of research, analysis and writing. Temple also recognizes that technology has greatly expanded the array of research tools, and so fully integrates print, electronic, and open source research methods in the course.
A hallmark of Temple’s first year course is the intensive interaction between the students and the faculty, and the class sizes are designed to facilitate this. Students receive their first client problem on the first day of class and start researching and writing immediately. Students meet one-on-one with their professors several times over the course of the year and can expect detailed and frequent feedback on their work. In the fall semester, students focus on finding the law and using it to predict how a client’s problem can be resolved. In the spring, the focus is on persuasion, including oral advocacy.Temple’s successful curriculum, as well as the pedagogical theory on which it is based, is described in more detail in a law review article written by Professors Ellie Margolis and Susan DeJarnatt, entitled Moving Beyond Product to Process: Building a Better LRW Program, 46 Santa Clara L. Rev. 93 (2005).[ssrn]
The success of Temple’s curriculum is evident from the achievements of its students in local and national writing competitions. For example, Temple has won first place in four of the last five Ruth Bader Ginsburg “Pursuit of Justice” Writing Competitions. Students have also won awards from the American Bar Association and from the American College of Employee Benefits Counsel. Two Temple students have recently received Burton Legal Writing Awards for outstanding legal writing. Temple students also consistently report being exceptionally well-prepared for the research and writing demands of practice.
In addition to its top-notch program for J.D. students, is bringing American legal education to the world, including both the first and only ABA-accredited LL.M. program in the People’s Republic of China, as well as a U.S.-based Master of Laws and a Doctor of Juridical Science program for foreign-trained lawyers. Developed by Professor Robin Nilon, a Ph.D. who has worked with foreign law students for many years, Temple’s writing curriculum provides lawyers trained outside the US with legal research and writing skills essential to handling legal matters in a global context. Professor Nilon’s specially designed “total immersion” assignment requires students to prepare and argue briefs before a panel of federal judges. Rounding out the curriculum is a seminar designed to teach U.S.-style scholarly writing to foreign-trained law students. The substantial classroom instruction is further supplemented by Temple’s International LL.M. Writing Center, which provides additional feedback for students who need it.
The foundation of Temple’s excellent research and writing program is its faculty. Temple’s distinguished faculty includes accomplished lawyers with decades of practice experience in a wide variety of fields, as well as leading scholars in and scholars on the cutting-edge of the discipline who are nationally recognized experts in the field.
Temple's faculty publish widely on legal writing issues, including ground-breaking work on persuasion and brief-writing, legal research, law school and legal writing pedagogy, and issues related to international teaching. They also publish in other areas, including education law, employment law, evidence and feminist legal theory. Professor Margolis is a national expert on policy arguments in legal briefs, as well as an emerging expert on the changing face of legal research. Professor Lee Carpenter’s scholarship draws upon her practice experience and her prior tenure as a clinical professor. Professor Kathryn Stanchi has published and spoken extensively on both legal pedagogy and persuasion. Professor Kristen Murray’s published scholarship focuses on legal education, technology, and adult learning theory. Professor Bonny Tavares has written a book on legal research; her scholarship interests include legal writing pedagogy and appellate advocacy. Professor DeJarnatt’s scholarship focuses on public education reform, legal writing pedagogy and, most recently, incorporating international and comparative law in the legal writing curriculum. Professor Robin Nilon’s work develops the base of contrastive rhetoric as it informs legal writing for foreign lawyers and evaluates its applications for the legal writing classroom. Faculty members lecture frequently to diverse audiences, including many law schools, bar associations and law firms, as well as other national associations such as the Legal Writing Institute, the Association of Legal Writing Directors, and the Association of American Law Schools.