2015 U.S. News Rankings: Legal Writing Program Ranked 2nd in the Country

The Legal Writing program at The John Marshall Law School in Chicago has been named the No. 2 program in the country for the second year in a row.

The John Marshall Lawyering Skills Program is the only legal writing program in Illinois’ nine law schools to be nationally ranked, according to the latest rankings from U.S. News & World Report’s Best Graduate Schools for Law.

“The honor of our ranking shows that we have some of the nation’s most respected legal writing faculty and programs,” said Associate Dean Anthony Niedwiecki, director of the Lawyering Skills Program. “We have been ahead of other law schools in assessing what employers want and how to prepare our students to meet those evolving needs.”

John Marshall boasts the largest in-house writing resource center in the U.S., employing legal writing specialists who work one-on-one with students to sharpen their skills. The legal writing program is integrated into John Marshall’s structured experiential learning curriculum. The school requires all law students to complete three credits – a minimum of 168 hours – of an externship or clinical experience by the time they graduate.

John Marshall faculty members serve as leaders within the country’s top legal writing groups. Professors Mark Wojcik and Kim Chanbonpin serve on the board of the Legal Writing Institute, and Niedwiecki is the Immediate Past President of the Association of Legal Writing Directors.

Many law schools require only two semesters of legal writing. At John Marshall, four semesters are required through its Lawyering Skills Program, which takes students well beyond the traditional instruction of how to prepare memos and briefs. Niedwiecki said the program’s essential tools teach students to interact with clients, other attorneys and judges, write well and speak clearly.

Niedwiecki has worked with faculty to redesign the four courses so that students get more writing practice and research instruction; improve their analysis, advocacy and communication skills; learn how to write basic contracts; do electronic filing.

John Marshall law students put their writing skills to the test as part of the school’s rigorous three-credit graduation requirement. The school mandate that students partake in a clinical experience or an externship sometime during their last three semesters of law school. Students can combine experiences to meet the three credit requirement. For example, a student may earn two credits from a clinical experience, and an additional hour or two from an externship in a law office or at a government agency.

To learn more about John Marshall’s nationally recognized Lawyering Skills Program visit www.jmls.edu/lawyering-skills

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