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This Law School’s Writing Program Just Got Tougher

Students at a DC-based law school will be returning this fall to a more rigorous writing curriculum.

Officials at the George Washington University Law School recently announced major changes to the law school’s Legal Research and Writing Program. Changes include a switch from an adjunct to a full-time staff, the addition of a new course focused on lawyer-client relationships, and an increased credit-hour requirement. According to the GW Hatchet, they are the first changes to the school’s core curriculum in more than a generation.

“These changes, which position GW Law as a curricular leader, will augment our already-strong program, add a professional development component and make our students practice-ready,” GW Law dean Blake Morant says in a press release.

What Changes Mean For Students

For students, the plan brings about a few changes.

Starting this fall, the writing program will count for six credits instead of four. This change places GW Law in a unique position as a majority of US law schools tend to offer four to five credits.

Additionally, the new writing course will include a revamped curriculum that focuses on administrative law and regulatory interpretation.

Morant says the changes will offer students more time to hone specific skills in critical areas such as client interactions.

“No other law school in the area offers this innovation, and it remains rather rare in the legal academy at large,” Morant says in the release.

In an interview with the Hatchet, Christy DeSanctis, a professor of legal research and writing and the director of the program, says a task force was appointed two years ago to help develop the curriculum. Part of that process, she says, was assessing the current curriculum, comparing it to peer law schools, and gathering feedback from students and alumni.

The changes are aiming to “produce more self-directed, self-sufficient, ‘practice-ready’ lawyers,” DeSanctis tells the Hatchet. “The research and writing curricular changes – those are skills that virtually every legal employer lists as first most important for junior attorneys.”

Putting GW Law At The Forefront

For GW Law, the changes are a strategic way to keep pace with innovations that are already being spearheaded by other similarly-ranked law schools.

Law schools, like Boston University and the University of California Irvine, have already started to employ full-time faculty to oversee writing programs and increase curricula to six credit hours, according to the Hatchet.

Dean Morant says the changes will help to both position GW Law students as well as the law school for success down the road.

“As one who has taught legal analysis in many forms, I wholeheartedly pursued and promoted these innovations,” Dean Morant explains. “Not only will it improve the instruction of a vital skill that our students require, but it also signals to employers and the academy GW Law’s commitment to ensuring the competency of our students as both writers and researchers.”

Sources: GW Hatchet, GW Law