Advanced Program

Inaugurated in 1993, the Advanced J.D. Program offers one of the broadest ranges of upper-class elective courses in the nation. Each advanced writing course is limited to twelve students and is staffed by a practitioner with expertise in a particular field. Many of the courses teach students how to draft documents in a specific area such as civil litigation, criminal litigation, commercial law, intellectual property, trusts and estates, and employment law.

Not every advanced course is offered every semester, but the most popular courses – such as Civil Litigation Drafting and Commercial Drafting – are offered each semester in multiple sections. In any given year there are approximately forty upper-level electives. There is no recommended sequencing. A student may enroll in only one upper-class legal writing elective each semester. It is strongly recommended that students take at least one advanced writing course prior to graduation.


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 organization and thorough analysis. The writing exercises 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.

Appellate Drafting

This course will focus on appellate writing and the appellate process through working with actual federal appellate cases. Students will assume the role of either counsel for the appellant or counsel for the respondent. They will analyze the record on appeal and evaluate the facts below, the lower court decisions, and the relevant legal authorities. In class they will develop arguments and strategies for the statement of facts and argument sections of the appellate brief. This class aims to provide extensive training in advanced legal writing through the drafting of compelling factual statements and persuasive legal arguments in the appellate context. Students will also have opportunities to hone their appellate advocacy skills by preparing and delivering oral arguments. The writing and litigation skills learned here will be valuable for all aspiring litigators practicing in any area of law.

Business Organizations Drafting

This course will focus on the documents required to create and capitalize corporations, partnerships, and limited liability companies.  The class will begin by discussing capital structure and fundamentals of corporate finance.  It will then examine a public company’s certificate of incorporation and bylaws, including provisions relating to takeover defenses.  The class will study shareholder and similar agreements and draft selected provisions of those agreements.  Moving beyond equity capital, students will analyze documents for senior debt and mezzanine capital, including subordinated debt and preferred stock, and draft provisions of these documents.  The class will also learn about joint ventures, which can take many corporate forms, and consider the governance, exit, termination, dispute resolution and compliance provisions.

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 various litigation documents including complaints, answers, discovery requests and responses, affidavits, and memoranda of law.

Civil Rights Litigation Drafting

Based on a hypothetical fair housing case, this course is designed to teach students how to draft documents common to civil rights cases.  The course is of special interest to students who are contemplating a career in civil rights law, but it also trains students in general civil litigation drafting skills.  Students draft pleadings, discovery requests and responses, letters to clients, settlement agreements, and summary judgment motion papers.  This offering differs from Civil Litigation Drafting only in being more specialized in its substantive focus; students may not take both courses for credit.

Commercial Drafting: Acquiring a Business

This seminar deals with the role of the lawyer in transactional work and the functions of a contract in a transactional setting. The seminar is a practical exercise built around the acquisition of the assets of a business from initial negotiations through closing. Students assume many of the usual roles of junior lawyers in transactional practice, including drafting substantive portions of the acquisition agreement and many collateral documents involved in a typical transaction. The course assists students in sharpening drafting skills, gaining insight into how commercial agreements of all types perform, and learning to recognize and develop solutions to business problems that arise in the process of doing a deal. Students in the seminar attain drafting and business analytical skills that can be utilized in all types of commercial transactions.

Commercial Drafting: Business Contracts and Transactions

This seminar introduces the basic drafting principles that govern agreements and other instruments used in business transactions. The course focuses not only on business acquisition agreements but also on a broad range of other instruments including employment contracts, commercial leases, license agreements, loan agreements, and statutory filings. The course covers how to structure an agreement, draft clearly, and deal with both business and legal issues. Weekly assignments require each student to draft an agreement or other instrument according to the instructions of a hypothetical client. Students then revise certain of these assignments to reflect the professor's comments and changes in the deal.

Criminal Litigation Drafting

This class will cover the essential drafting challenges from a simple criminal complaint, through investigation, onto trial. We will work with one fact pattern. The method will be interactive, open-ended. Each student will run his or her own case using the fact pattern, drafting various documents required at each step. With the aid of current and former prosecutors appearing as guest speakers, we will explore the fundamentals of a safe, persuasive drafting practice from both the defense and government perspective.

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 patters, learn how the discovery process fits within the larger pre-trial preparation process, and prepare 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.

Entertainment Law Drafting

This transactional drafting course covers documents in traditional entertainment law (print publishing, television, film and theatre).  The assignments will include rights agreements, releases, licenses and agreements with directors, actors and other talent.  There will be some discussion of financing and distribution agreements but this will not be the main focus of the course.  Among the issues to be discussed will be questions of copyright, ownership and creative license.  The course is designed to give students an opportunity to discuss practical, real-life situations and draft appropriate documentation from differing perspectives. Through written assignments and in-class drafting and negotiating exercises, students will be introduced to some of the basic issues in transactional entertainment law drafting.

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.

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 a series of 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 some of the most interesting—and in many cases thorny—issues that arise when granting rights to intellectual property to another party. Students explore intellectual property-related issues that arise in a number of industries, which (depending on the professor) may include the entertainment, advertising, media, sports, publishing, technology and consumer products industries. Agreements featuring patent issues will be addressed, but will not be the main focus of this course.

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. The 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.

Legislative Drafting

This course teaches basic techniques of statutory and regulatory drafting.  Students engage in a series of redrafting and editing 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.

Media Law Drafting

In this course students learn to draft documents related to the practice of media law, from traditional media (print publishing, television, and film) to new media (internet and digital distribution). The 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, advising on the 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.

Public Media Drafting

This course will provide practical legal drafting opportunities by examining the intersection of not-for-profit and media law, through the presentation of real world fact patterns.  The course is designed to give students drafting and analytical experience in the area of “public media law” by exploring the 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 will 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.

Real Estate Drafting

In this course students will learn to prepare and revise documents used in commercial real estate transactions from the perspective of each of the parties. Discussions and assignments will be based upon hypothetical fact patterns and mock negotiations by students and guest speakers. The course will teach students to identify legal and business issues that arise in the preparation and revision of documents, and to address them in a clear and well organized fashion. The course will cover 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 will be useful to students who plan careers in real estate or other transaction-based areas of practice.

Regulatory Drafting

This course introduces students to both litigation and transactional drafting skills in the context of regulated industries. Students follow the life cycle of a regulation, drafting submissions to be filed with various administrative agencies relating to the various stages of regulatory enactment. In addition, students prepare documents for proceedings addressing regulatory waivers and enforcement. Class members will have the opportunity to participate in mock client meetings and administrative litigation proceedings. Particular agencies covered may include SEC, Patent and Trademark Office, FCC, FDA, Consumer Product Safety Commission, Department of Transportation, Department of Homeland Security and the Consumer Financial Protection Agency.

Securities Regulation Drafting

This course will introduce students to legal drafting in the securities regulation field.  It is designed to provide students with a detailed understanding of the various types of securities documents that the securities practitioner will most commonly be asked to draft or analyze.  The course will focus on the legal disclosure requirements for these documents as well as the current drafting practices and conventions of securities practitioners.  While the course will cover a broad range of documents and filings required under the federal securities laws, students will spend a substantial portion of the semester drafting a Registration Statement on Form S-1 for a hypothetical corporate client engaged in a hypothetical 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.  Students will also meet with the professor in individual conferences to be held outside of class.  By the end of the semester, students will have produced a complete Registration Statement on Form S-1 and gained a detailed understanding of the process of drafting securities documents.

Trusts and Estates Drafting

This course focuses on drafting documents used in estate planning and administration. Substantive law discussions are integrated into exercises in drafting documents commonly used by estate and trust practitioners. These documents include wills, trusts, petitions to the Surrogate's Court, and beneficiary designations for life insurance policies and retirement funds.

Contact Us

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

Tel: 212-636-6942

Fax: 212-930-8828