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Legal Research and Writing

Arizona Summit Law School (Summit) offers a real-world, practice-based legal research and writing program. Summit’s unique FIRSTClass program integrates first-year legal research, analysis and writing into the context of specific practice areas. In these courses, students will be introduced to legal doctrine and practice skills, while developing their ability to research the law, analyze legal issues, and prepare both analytical and practice-based legal documents.

​Summit’s legal writing courses are taught by full-time faculty members with extensive practice and teaching experience. Combined, the legal writing faculty members have more than 60 years of practice experience; their diverse practice experience includes commercial and civil litigation, appellate practice, criminal law, disability civil rights, employment law, construction law, family law, immigration law, commercial real estate and intellectual property. By bringing their practice-based knowledge and experience into the legal writing classroom, the legal writing faculty members are able to guide students in their development of legal analysis and knowledge of how to prepare practice-ready legal documents.

First-Trimester Legal Research and Writing: Introduction to Criminal Practice and Legal Writing

During their first trimester, students learn legal analysis, research and writing in the context of studying criminal practice. During this five-credit course, in addition to developing an understanding of the legal doctrine underlying criminal law and an understanding of the criminal justice system, students will begin developing their research and writing skills. These skills include: legal research; mechanics of legal writing and citation; statutory construction; case analysis; rule synthesis; analogical reasoning; and structure and preparation of practice documents, such as charging documents and objective legal memoranda.

Second-Trimester Legal Research and Writing: Legal Writing and Advocacy: Issues in [Special Topics]

During their second trimester, students continue to develop their legal analysis, research and writing skills, but now develop those skills in the context of a selected “special topic” practice area.  The special topics practice areas include a wide array of practice areas, such as commercial law, employment law, construction law, criminal procedure, and domestic violence and the law.  Because students will have the opportunity to choose a special topic practice area, they will be able to focus their second trimester legal writing experience on the subject matter they are most interested in.  These areas of study are normally reserved for upper-level students.

In each of the four-credit second-trimester courses, students will develop more advanced legal research, analysis and writing skills, and will be introduced to concepts of both written and oral advocacy.  Students will learn persuasive writing techniques, methods of persuasive organization, oral advocacy, and preparation of advocacy and practice documents relevant to their special topic.  By the end of the second trimester, each student will have presented at least two oral arguments and will have prepared at least two persuasive practice documents, such as motions.

Upper-Level Legal Research and Writing

Following the first two trimesters, students have the opportunity to continue to develop their legal research, analysis and writing skills.  Students may elect from: Lawyering Process III, which focuses on preparing practice-ready and more complex practice documents; Lawyering Process IV, which focuses on advanced legal research skills; Appellate Advocacy, which focuses on appellate practice, preparing briefs and oral argument; and Advanced Topics in Appellate Litigation.

Legal Writing Center

The Summit Legal Writing Center is an additional legal writing skills resource for Summit students.  The Legal Writing Center offers workshops on subjects such as grammar, citation, organization and clarity.  The Writing Center coach and student Writing Fellows are also available to meet one-on-one with students to provide additional feedback and guidance on their legal writing.