Students work on laptops in the lobby of Jerome Greene Hall.

Writing Center

Welcome to the Columbia Law School Writing Center!

**Please note that the writing fellows will stop taking appointments for the semester on December 8th. From then until the beginning of the spring semester, 1Ls should make an appointment with the writing specialist at the link below.

The entire Writing Center will be closed for the holidays from December 22nd until January 8th.**

The Law School Writing Center is available to all law students. During the academic year, students may attend workshops and/or make appointments for one-on-one consultations. Consultations can be used to review specific pieces of legal writing (up to 10, double-spaced pages) or to discuss effective legal writing strategies in general.

With the exception of writing that may require instructor permission, noted below, consultation appointments are confidential. While the priority is academic writing, students may also make appointments to review professional legal writing samples as time allows. The goal of the Writing Center is to help students become better legal writers and the best possible editors of their own work.   

The Writing Center team consists of a staff writing specialist, who is an attorney, and trained upper-year law students who serve as writing fellows. The writing specialist is available to meet with upper-year and LL.M. students, and conducts an Upper-Year/LL.M. Workshop Series throughout the academic year. Writing fellows are available to meet with 1Ls in Legal Practice Workshop, and hold 1L-focused workshops through the 1L Lunch Series. 

For Fall 2023, students may make an appointment as follows. Please make an appointment at least 48 hours in advance.

  • Upper-year and LL.M. students may make a writing specialist appointment here.
  • Writing fellow appointments are closed for the semester. 1Ls may use the link above to schedule an appointment with the writing specialist. 

What we can always review and/or discuss during a consultation:

  1. Writing assignments for 1L Legal Practice Workshop or LL.M. Legal Research and Writing. Students do not need instructor permission to bring in assignments from these classes.
  2. Legal writing from a prior class that has already been submitted for a grade or an excerpt from a journal note that has already been submitted for publication.
  3. Effective legal writing strategies in general, using Writing Center examples and/or exercises.

What we can review with permission from your instructor or past employer:

  1. Writing assignments from current, graded classes or supervised research that have not yet been submitted for a grade may require instructor permission and/or notification. This includes papers for seminars, independent research under the supervision of an instructor, supervised experiential study, the LL.M. Writing Project, clinic work, or any other piece of writing that will ultimately be submitted for a grade. Different instructors have different policies regarding Writing Center assistance, and some may require notification and/or express permission, or may not allow the Writing Center to review work that has not yet been graded. If you are unsure of your instructor’s policy, you may contact the Writing Center or ask your instructor.
  2. A legal writing sample from a prior job, internship, externship, or clinic. Students must obtain permission from their employer and redact any confidential information before sharing this type of legal writing sample with the Writing Center.

What we cannot review or provide:

  1. Students may not make appointments to discuss the following pieces of legal writing: take-home or practice examinations from a current class, journal notes that have not yet been submitted for publication, and legal writing samples that will also be used for journal applications.
  2. We are not able to provide substantive feedback, nor review any piece of legal writing in the absence of a consultation appointment. 
  3. We will not proof, edit, or rewrite student work. 
  4. We are not able to review resumes or cover letters.

Learn More

For Fall 2023, students may make an appointment as follows. Please make an appointment at least 48 hours in advance.

  • Upper-year and LL.M. students may make a writing specialist appointment here.
  • Writing fellow appointments are closed for the semester. 1Ls may use the link above to schedule an appointment with the writing specialist. 

Please see below information for the 1L Lunch Series and the Upper-Year/LL.M. Workshop Series.

1L Lunch Series

Writing fellows host a series of workshops for 1Ls throughout the semester.

Upcoming workshops:  

Writing in Plain English

Thursday, November 16, 12:10pm, JG 102B

Review practical tips for writing legal arguments in plain English and communicating in a clear and active manner. Open to 1Ls.

Upper-Year/LL.M. Workshop Series

The writing specialist hosts a series of workshops for upper-year and LL.M. students throughout the semester. Each workshop will be held in-person, at two separate times.

Registration required. Please choose the time that works best for you; please do not sign up for the same workshop more than once.

Upcoming workshops:

Avoiding Unintentional Plagiarism

Review what must be cited in legal writing, and practice identifying citation failures that could result in unintentional plagiarism. Open to 2Ls, 3Ls, and LLMs.

  • Thursday, November 9, from 5:00pm - 6:00pm. Register here.
  • Tuesday, November 14, from 12:10pm - 1:10pm. Register here.

Please see the Law School Writing Center resource page for handouts, presentations, and workshop recordings covering a broad range of legal writing issues.

Writing Specialist 

Misti Duvall '06 is the Writing Center's writing specialist. Working primarily with upper-year and LL.M. students, she provides one-on-one and small group instruction to help students develop their legal writing skills. Misti has experience in domestic and international law and policy, and spent 10 years practicing environmental and human rights law with non-profit organizations in New York, Washington, D.C., and Southeast Asia. Since shifting her focus from legal practice to writing and teaching, she has taught the Law School Admission Test to prospective law students and First-Year Legal Writing at Fordham Law.

Misti is a graduate of Columbia Law School, where she was an articles editor for the Columbia Journal of Environmental Law and teaching assistant in the Environmental Law Clinic. She also holds an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from City College of New York and a B.A. from the University of Tennessee.

Contact: [email protected]

Writing Fellows

The writing fellows consist of upper-year law students who are available to meet with 1Ls in Legal Practice Workshop. All fellows have demonstrated outstanding writing ability, as well as a desire to help students understand the value of strong legal writing.

2023-2024 Fellows

Daniel Knaap, Senior Writing Fellow
Erin Byrne
Casey Doyle
Alison Drileck
Banu Dzhafarova
Daniella Finkelshteyn
Skylar Gleason
Angela Kang
Zachary Kayal
Kezia Otinkorang
Seth Snyder
Haley Talati
Gloria Yi

The Writing Center is located on the second floor of William and June Warren Hall. To send a general question to the Writing Center, please email us at [email protected]

1. Who can use the Columbia Law School Writing Center?

Any current law student.

2. Where is the Writing Center located, when is it open, and how do I schedule an appointment?
The Writing Center is located on the second floor of William and June Warren Hall. It is open all year, including over the summer, though appointments with writing fellows are limited to the fall and spring semesters. Please see the Make an Appointment section below for information about scheduling appointments.

3. With whom will I meet?
The Law School Writing Center is staffed by a writing specialist, who is an attorney, and upper-year student writing fellows. Generally, LL.M. and upper-year J.D. students will meet the writing specialist, and 1Ls in Legal Practice Workshop will meet with one of the writing fellows.

4. What should I do to prepare for an appointment?
If you are coming to the center to discuss a specific piece of writing, please share the piece as directed at least 48 hours prior to your appointment.

You are also welcome to make an appointment to discuss an area of legal writing more generally. In this situation, please make sure to explain your area of interest in the "notes" section of your sign-up form.

5. What kind of feedback will I receive?
Writing Center staff will not line edit or rewrite your work for you. We will not provide feedback on substantive legal issues, nor review without consultation. Rather, we will review your work for common problems or issues related to organization, argument structure, grammar, and style. We will then work with you to help you understand these issues so that you can become a stronger editor of your own work.

Make An Appointment

For Fall 2023, students may make an appointment as follows. Please make an appointment at least 48 hours in advance.

  • Upper-year and LL.M. students may make a writing specialist appointment here.
  • Writing fellow appointments are closed for the semester. 1Ls may use the link above to schedule an appointment with the writing specialist. 

 

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