Advanced Legal Writing Program

The Advanced Legal Writing Program offers over 40 elective classes each year and is one of the most extensive upper-level writing programs in the nation.  Each Advanced Legal Writing course is limited to 12 students and is taught by a practitioner with expertise in a particular field.  Students in these courses learn how to draft documents in a specific area such as civil litigation, criminal litigation, commercial law, intellectual property, trusts and estates, and employment law.

Although not every advanced course is offered every semester, the most popular courses – such as Civil Litigation Drafting and Commercial Drafting – are offered each semester in multiple sections.  There is no recommended sequencing for the Advanced Legal Writing courses.  It is strongly recommended that students take at least one Advanced Legal Writing course prior to graduation.

Enrollment Information for Advanced Legal Writing Courses

A student may enroll in only one Advanced Legal Writing course each semester.  A student may not repeat any advanced Legal Writing course (all sections of Commercial Drafting, Civil Litigation Drafting and Intellectual Property Drafting count as the same course).  All Advanced Legal Writing courses satisfy the upper-level skills requirement but do not satisfy the Upper-Class Writing Requirement.

There is no pre-requisite for any Advanced Legal Writing Course unless specifically indicated below.


Advanced Legal Writing Seminar

This course provides advanced training in analytic and persuasive legal writing.  It focuses on clear writing as the natural extension of good organization and thorough analysis.  The writing exercises assigned in the course use hypotheticals based on actual cases in a variety of practice areas.  Students draft and edit short and long documents including letters, litigation documents, memoranda, and legislation.  3 credits.

Appellate Drafting

The focus of this seminar is on understanding the appellate process through an actual criminal case currently pending in either state or federal court.  Students are assigned as counsel for the appellant or the prosecution.  Class members analyze the record on appeal, assess the lower court decisions and legal issues, develop strategies for the statement of facts and argument, and write an appellate brief.  The course concludes with oral argument, giving each student an opportunity to practice her or his advocacy skills before a panel of appellate judges, professors, and practitioners.  Through related readings and class discussions, students will engage in a critical analysis of the appellate judging process.  The writing and litigation skills learned in this course are valuable for aspiring litigators in any area of law.  3 credits.

Business Organizations Drafting

This course introduces students to documents required to create and capitalize corporations, partnerships, and limited liability companies.  It begins by discussing capital structure and the fundamentals of corporate finance and proceeds to examine a public company’s certificate of incorporation and bylaws.  The next unit studies shareholder and similar agreements, requiring students to draft selected provisions of those agreements.  Moving beyond equity capital, students analyze and draft documents for senior debt and mezzanine capital, including subordinated debt and preferred stock.  Students also learn about corporate forms for joint ventures and consider governance, exit, termination, dispute resolution and compliance provisions.  3 credits.  Pre-requisite:  Corporations.

Civil Litigation Drafting

This seminar covers the preparation of civil litigation papers in a trial court.  Students analyze the legal issues raised by hypothetical fact patterns, develop litigation strategies, and prepare litigation documents such as complaints, answers, discovery requests, affidavits, settlement agreements, letters to clients, and memoranda of law.  Different instructors use hypotheticals in different areas of the law but all sections cover the basic principles of effective civil litigation drafting.  3 credits.

Commercial Drafting

In this seminar students are introduced to basic drafting principles that govern business transactions and agreements.  The course covers not only acquisition agreements but a broad range of other instruments, including (depending on the professor) employment contracts, commercial leases, license agreements, loan agreements, and statutory filings.  Dealing with both business and legal issues, the course focuses on how to structure an agreement and draft it clearly.  In weekly assignments, students draft documents according to the instructions of a hypothetical client and may revise the agreement to reflect the professor's comments and changes in the deal.  3 credits.  Pre or Co-Requisite:  Corporations.

Criminal Litigation Drafting

This class covers the essential drafting challenges in criminal litigation, from a simple criminal complaint through investigation and on to trial.  The course works with one fact pattern throughout the semester and uses a method that is interactive and open-ended.  Each student runs his or her own case based on the fact pattern and drafts the various documents required at each step.  With the assistance of current and former prosecutors as guest speakers, the class explores the fundamentals of a safe, persuasive drafting practice from the perspectives of both defense and government.  3 credits.

Discovery Drafting

This seminar covers the preparation of civil discovery papers and related documents in a trial court.  Students will analyze the discovery issues raised by hypothetical fact patterns, learn how the discovery process fits within the larger pre-trial preparation process, and draft various discovery-related documents such as initial disclosures, interrogatories, requests for production, and requests for admissions.  Students will also consider special problems caused by electronic discovery, foreign discovery, and privilege disputes.  3 credits.

Entertainment Law Drafting

This transactional drafting course covers documents used in traditional entertainment law (print publishing, television, film and theater).  Through written assignments and in-class drafting and negotiating exercises, students are introduced to some of the basic issues in transactional entertainment law drafting.  Documents covered in the course include rights agreements, releases, licenses, and agreements with directors, actors and other talent.  Among the issues discussed are questions of copyright, ownership and creative license.  The course gives students an opportunity to deal with practical, real-life situations and to draft appropriate documentation from differing client perspectives.  3 credits.

Family Law Drafting

This course provides students with a firm grounding in understanding and drafting documents most often encountered in matrimonial practice.  To facilitate the students’ understanding of the use of particular provisions, there is significant classroom discussion of substantive matrimonial and tax law.  The principal focus of the course is on drafting portions of separation agreements, including provisions on custody and visitation, child and spousal support, and equitable distribution.  Students also prepare prenuptial agreements.  3 credits.

Intellectual Property Drafting

This transactional drafting course covers license, work for hire, and other agreements involving copyrights, trademarks, rights of publicity, patents and related rights.  The course is designed to give students an opportunity to apply drafting and analytic tools to practical, real-life situations.  Through out-of-class assignments and in-class drafting exercises of increasing complexity, students are introduced to the science and art of transactional drafting and contract interpretation.  The course also studies a number of leading intellectual property cases demonstrating key drafting and interpretive principles.  The drafting and reading assignments provide a practical context in which to examine interesting and thorny issues that arise when granting rights to intellectual property to another party.  Depending on the professor, the industries covered include entertainment, advertising, media, sports, publishing, technology and consumer products.  Patent issues are addressed but are not the main focus of this course.  2 or 3 credits.  Pre or Co-Requisite:  Any course in patent, copyright or trademark law.

Labor and Employment Law Drafting

This course exposes students to the principles and skills of labor and employment drafting.  Students draft documents involved in collective bargaining, labor arbitrations, employee benefit matters, proceedings before government agencies such as the NLRB and EEOC, and federal litigation over employment disputes.  Documents drafted include unfair labor practice charges, union election protests, employment discrimination complaints, NLRB and EEOC position statements, benefit fund trustee resolutions, collective bargaining proposals, information requests and subpoenas, and civil litigation motions.  3 credits.

Legislative Drafting

This course teaches basic techniques of statutory and regulatory drafting.  Students first engage in editing and redrafting exercises and then undertake the original drafting of a series of increasingly complex statutes.  Through related readings, the class also explores how the legislative process and principles of statutory interpretation (including the canons of statutory construction and the use of legislative history) affect the drafting process.  3 credits.

Media Law Drafting

Students in this course draft documents related to the practice of media law, from traditional media (print publishing, television, and film) to new media (internet and digital distribution).  Assignments include pre-publication review of articles and scripts for potential defamation or disparagement claims, copyright and trademark-related drafting (including "lawyer's letters" to clients, advice on risks of pursuing a particular mark, applications for copyrights/trademarks, and "cease and desist" letters), content licenses, freelance rights agreements, and media-related litigation and mediation documents (including letters demanding retraction/correction, complaints, motion practice, and settlement agreements).  The course exposes students to practical drafting situations through real-world fact patterns.  3 credits.

Public Media Drafting

This course provides practical legal drafting opportunities by examining the intersection of not-for-profit and media law through real world fact patterns.  It gives students drafting and analytical experience by exploring issues faced by not-for-profit institutions (such as public television, radio, museums, libraries and universities) in the media context.  Topics and related drafting assignments include the creation and funding of public media institutions; public media compliance with government regulatory schemes; corporate governance and tax exempt status issues faced by not-for-profit institutions; intellectual property rights ownership; indecency concerns in the public media context; and collaborations between public and for profit media players.  Field trips to media institutions based in New York City will take place as opportunities permit.  No prior knowledge of not-for-profit or media law is required or assumed.  3 credits.

Real Estate Drafting

In this transactional course, students learn to prepare and revise documents used in commercial real estate transactions from the perspectives of the parties.  Discussions and assignments are based upon hypothetical fact patterns and mock negotiations conducted by students and guest speakers.  The course teaches students to identify  and clearly address the legal and business issues that arise in the preparation and revision of documents.  Documents covered in the course include letters of intent, real estate brokerage agreements, commercial leases and subleases, contracts for sale of vacant land and condominium units, deeds and easement agreements, and basic construction documents.  The course is useful to students who plan careers in real estate or other transaction-based areas of practice.  2 credits.

Regulatory Drafting

Students in this course are exposed to both litigation and transactional drafting in the context of regulated industries.  Students follow the life cycle of a regulation, drafting submissions to be filed with various administrative agencies at various stages of regulatory enactment.  Students prepare documents for proceedings dealing with regulatory waivers and enforcement, and have the opportunity to participate in mock client meetings and administrative litigation proceedings.  Particular agencies covered may include the SEC, Patent and Trademark Office, FCC, FDA, Consumer Product Safety Commission, Department of Transportation, Department of Homeland Security and the Consumer Financial Protection Agency.  3 credits.

Securities Regulation Drafting

This course introduces students to legal drafting in the securities regulation field.  It provides students with a detailed understanding of the various types of securities documents that the securities practitioner is commonly asked to draft or analyze.  While the course covers a broad range of documents and filings, students will spend a substantial portion of the semester drafting a Registration Statement on Form S-1 for a hypothetical corporate client engaged in an initial public offering (“IPO”) of its common stock.  Each week students will analyze, research and draft various sections of Form S-1 based on a continuing stream of information provided by the client about the company and the IPO.  During the drafting process, students will meet with the professor in individual conferences.  By semester’s end, students produce a complete Registration Statement on Form S-1 and attain a detailed understanding of the securities drafting process.  Pre or Co-Requisites:  Securities Regulation and Corporations.  3 credits.

Trusts and Estates Drafting

This course focuses on drafting documents used in estate planning and administration.  The class integrates substantive law discussions into exercises for drafting documents commonly used by estate and trust practitioners.  Documents covered in the course include wills, trusts, petitions to the Surrogate's Court, and beneficiary designations for life insurance policies and retirement funds.  3 credits.

Contact Us

Fordham University School of Law
Legal Writing Program
150 West 62nd Street, Room 7-175
New York, NY 10023

Tel: 212-636-6942

Fax: 212-930-8828