Legal Writing and Appellate Advocacy

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Providing a Foundation for Success in the Legal Profession

The Florida Bar and the ABA have made clear that lawyering skills must be a significant element of a law student’s preparation for practice. The Legal Research, Writing and Appellate Advocacy Department’s mission is to provide to our students the means to master these skills. Our talented team of Legal Skills Professors and teaching assistants are committed to providing to our students practical experience and reflective evaluation. This experience combined with the other excellent skills training our law school offers gives our students the foundation for the successful practice of law.

The courses taught by the department’s Legal Skills Professors include:

  • Legal Writing: Legal Writing is taught in the students’ first semester. The course teaches the students to analyze a legal problem objectively, to research the law for the legal problem, and to write an office memorandum incorporating this research and analysis. The department’s Legal Skills Professors and their teaching assistants approach writing as a process, stressing the importance of self-critique and revision. The Legal Skills Professors and teaching assistants provide each student with detailed written feedback and confer with each student individually about their work in the course.In addition to a vigorous and challenging writing experience, the students receive hands-on instruction in small groups about the manual and electronic research tools they will use in practice. This hands-on experience is followed by work on several research projects that reinforce the research training.
  • Appellate Advocacy: Appellate Advocacy, taught in the second semester, is designed to assist the students in applying the skills of research and writing and their knowledge of substantive law to develop effective, persuasive writing skills.All writing assignments in Appellate Advocacy revolve around a hypothetical appellate record which has been researched and developed by each Legal Skills Professor. Each assignment is designed to build upon the next, culminating in an appellate brief. As in Legal Research and Writing, students receive intensive written and oral feedback on their work from the Legal Skills Professors and their teaching assistants.The students prepare and present several oral arguments concerning the issues argued in their appellate briefs. The students’ final oral argument presentations are judged with the help of the law school’s Moot Court Team and attorneys and judges who volunteer their time to help our students.
  • Advanced Techniques in Appellate Advocacy: Advanced Techniques in Appellate Advocacy fulfills our second and third-year students’ need for advanced, focused training and practice with writing and analysis. The course supplies in-depth training, study, and practice, continuing and building upon the training provided in the first year writing courses.Among the topics examined are appellate brief- writing, preservation of appellate issues, appellate standards of review, rhetoric and the canons of logic in the appellate context, winning strategies at the appellate level and appellate oral argument.

Contact Information

Address: Fredric G. Levin College of Law Legal Research, Writing, and Appellate Advocacy 213 MLAC P.O. Box 117624 Gainesville, FL 32611

Phone: 352-273-0875


Mary Adkins Director & Master Legal Skills Professor

Henry T. Wihnyk Senior Legal Skills Professor

Joseph Jackson Senior Legal Skills Professor

Leanne Pflaum Master Legal Skills Professor

Shalini B. Ray Legal Skills Professor

Betsy Ruff Senior Legal Skills Professor

Stacey Steinberg Legal Skills Professor

Patricia Thomson Senior Legal Skills Professor

Diane Tomlinson Senior Legal Skills Professor

Support Staff

Tiffanie Howell, Senior Secretary