One thing that I was not aware of when deciding to attend Florida State University College of Law was the upper-level writing requirement for graduation. To fulfill this requirement, students must take a class that is graded based on a final paper that is about 25 pages in length.
Upper-level writing courses should be something to look forward to, not something to be dreaded. While “normal” law school courses have many of the same qualities as upper-level writing classes, it is a challenging, but rewarding, experience to write a well-thought-out paper on an interesting legal issue of your own choosing rather than just taking an exam.
Understandably, some students can get anxious about the thought of writing a 25-page paper. I personally enjoy writing, but even if I did not, writing a paper is a nice change of pace from taking a final exam. I fulfilled my upper-level writing requirement by taking Race and Law with Professor Franita Tolson and it was certainly one of the best academic experiences in law school for me.
To be clear, writing a lengthy legal academic paper is no small feat. It takes a lot of time to come up with a topic, doing the research, coming up with ideas, organizing those ideas, writing multiple drafts, editing, and finally preparing a presentation of your paper for your class. Luckily, you have assistance every step along the way. Your professor will be available to sit down with you to come up with a topic, the librarians will go out of their way to make sure you are aware of the most up-to-date information relating to your topic, and many upper-level writing classes require peer review of your drafts by your classmates.
Class time is spent covering various topics that often relate directly to what you are writing about. You will have various deadlines set throughout the semester so your professor can monitor your progress and help you if he or she notices anything that could be improved upon. The resources are there and if you utilize all of them you will be able to write a great paper.
There are two unique things about upper-level writing classes that make them something worth looking forward to: the small class size and the interesting topics. Having small, discussion-oriented classes centered on cutting-edge and often contentious legal issues makes for a worthwhile educational experience as well as an interesting and thorough paper. Additionally, there is a wide variety of upper-level writing courses offered at the College of Law. I took Race and the Law, but while I was a law student other offerings included:
- 20th Century American Legal History
- Clean Air Act
- Climate Change
- Coastal and Ocean Law
- Comparative Constitutional Law
- Cyber Law
- Environmental Crimes
- Environmental Law and Policy
- Game Theory for Business Lawyers
- Health Reform
- Human Trafficking
- Intellectual Property
- Law and Economics
- Sex, Reproduction and the Law
- Supreme Court Role-Play
These are just a few of the many and constantly changing upper-level writing courses offered. As you can see, there is quite a wide variety offered so you are always able to find a topic that is interesting to you.