Welcome to the Columbia Law School Writing Center!
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 general legal writing strategies. 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 Spring 2023, students may schedule a consultation 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.
- 1Ls may make an appointment with one of the writing fellows here.
Please see the Events dropdown below for the Spring 2023 workshop schedule.
- Writing Center staff are not available to edit or proofread student work. We do not provide substantive feedback, nor review any piece of legal writing in the absence of a consultation appointment.
- Students may not make an appointment to discuss the following pieces of legal writing: take-home or practice examinations from a current class, journal notes, or a legal writing sample that will also be used for journal applications.
- Students may make confidential appointments to work on effective legal writing strategies and improve their overall skills. However, if a student would like to discuss a writing assignment for a current, graded class, the student must have their instructor’s permission to do so. This includes papers for supervised research, supervised experiential study, the LL.M. Writing Project, or any other piece of upper-year writing that will ultimately be submitted for a grade.
- Students do not need instructor permission to make an appointment regarding writing for 1L Legal Practice Workshop or LL.M. Legal Research and Writing.
- Students do not need instructor permission to discuss specific pieces of legal writing that are not associated with a current, graded class. For example, students are welcome to bring in written work from a prior semester to use as a starting point for discussion.
- Students must obtain permission from their employer and redact any confidential information before sharing a legal writing sample from a prior job, internship, externship, or clinic. Please note that we are not available to review resumes or cover letters.
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:
How to Discuss Cases Effectively
Thursday, February 23rd from 12:10pm - 1:10pm, location TBD
Learn how to use cases in different ways to make your legal writing stronger and more persuasive.
Tables of Contents and Authorities for LPW Briefs
Thursday, March 9th from 12:10pm - 1:10pm, location TBD
Confused about how to add a table of contents and authorities to your brief for LPW or specialized moot court? Learn how to create and edit a table of contents and authorities with 1L Writing Center Fellows. A demonstration and Q&A you won't want to miss!
How to Research and Write in Summer Jobs
Wednesday, April 12th from 12:10pm - 1:10pm, location TBD
Join 1L Writing Center Fellows for a workshop on how to handle common research and writing assignments during your summer jobs. The presenters will cover typical kinds of assignments, how to communicate with your supervisors to ensure you meet expectations, and tips on research techniques for real-world legal practice.
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:
Review and practice advanced Bluebook topics, including how to cite internet sources, administrative materials, and court documents. Intended for those who are already familiar with Bluebook basics. Open to 2Ls, 3Ls, and LLMs.
- Wednesday, February 8th from 5:00pm - 6:00pm. Register here.
- Thursday, February 9th from 12:10pm - 1:10pm. Register here.
Tips for Seminar Papers
Review tips for developing, organizing, writing, and revising seminar papers. Open to 2Ls, 3Ls, and LLMs.
Registration will open in mid February.
- Monday, March 6th from 5:00pm - 6:00pm. Register here.
- Tuesday, March 7th from 12:10pm - 1:10pm. Register here.
Exemplary Persuasive Writing
Using real world examples, review the elements of effective persuasive writing. Open to 2Ls, 3Ls, and LLMs.
Registration will open in mid March.
- Tuesday, March 28th from 12:10pm - 1:10pm. Register here.
- Tuesday, March 28th from 5:00pm - 6:00pm. 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.
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 law with non-profit organizations in New York, Washington, D.C., and Southeast Asia. She then shifted her focus from legal practice to writing and teaching, including several years working with prospective law students. She also teaches First-Year Legal Writing at Fordham Law School.
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]
The writing fellows consist of 15 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. Student Co-Directors oversee the work of the writing fellows.
For the 2022-2023 academic year, the Student Co-Directors are Isabella Gerrard and Jerelyn Luther.
To send a general question to the center, please email us at [email protected].
1. Who can use the Columbia Law School Writing Center?
Any current law student.
2. When is the center open, and how do I schedule an appointment?
Please see the Make an Appointment section below for more information.
3. With whom will I meet?
The Law School Writing Center is staffed by writing specialists, who are attorneys, and upper-year student writing fellows. LL.M. and upper-year J.D. students will meet with one of the writing specialists, 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.