Law 473 - Advanced Written Advocacy Workshop

Cynthia A. Merrill

Cynthia A. Merrill

Lecturer in Law
Coordinator of the LL.M. Legal Research and Writing Program
B.A. Colorado College
M.A. University of Washington
Ph.D. University of Washington
J.D. Yale Law School
Course Description:

Lawyers represent their clients primarily through writing. This advanced course will enhance students’ ability to advocate effectively by honing writing skills crucial to legal success: persuasive argumentation, penetrating analysis, compelling storytelling, strategic use of authority, and deft editing. In this limited-enrollment workshop, students will analyze, research, draft, and revise litigation-related documents; study the rhetorical craft of the nation’s best practicing attorneys; and receive extensive individualized feedback. The writing assignments will be closely based on actual cases, some of them litigated by the instructor, and will pose complex and challenging problems on the cutting edge of contemporary litigation.  The assignments will include demand letters, motions, oppositions to motions, and appellate briefs. 

Course Learning Outcomes:

After completing this course, students will be able to

  • assess legal problems and an opposing party’s briefing as necessary first steps in drafting litigation-related documents; 
  • write in response to specific legal standards;
  • employ narrative and other discursive techniques to establish a compelling theme;
  • present facts and evidence for maximum persuasive effect in light of applicable legal standards and case law;
  • craft successful arguments by employing supple legal reasoning, deft use of authorities, and appropriate rhetorical strategies;  
  • assess a draft and revise substantively and stylistically.