First-Year Program

Thomas R. Kline School of Law of Duquesne University offers you a nationally ranked Legal Research and Writing Program. Your first-year instruction will consist of two required courses, for a total of five fully-graded credit hours - more than most other law schools. We begin the year with several days of intensive work before the other first-year courses begin, during which you will learn about the legal system, the appellate process, reading cases, and legal research. During both first-year courses you will learn in detail how to legal research using print-based and computer-based resources arising in any context involving state or federal law.

Duquesne Kline Law has very small class sizes with exceptionally low student:faculty ratios, and faculty provide students with extensive critiques using computer-based feedback techniques. We hold a series of required individual conferences between each student and the professor, and require submissions of revisions following the professor's written and oral feedback (for further review). There are three open-ended research memoranda assigned in the fall semester, of greater length and complexity than most other schools' programs; in the spring semester students prepare a complex and lengthy appellate brief and deliver an oral argument before panels of alumni and faculty.

Our program employs a professor who won two national legal writing awards, and three tenure-track writing professors, as well as practicing attorneys as adjunct professors. We also use upper-level teaching assistants and a writing specialist to supplement faculty instruction. All assignments are prepared by the tenured or tenure-track writing professors.

Upper-Level Writing Experiences

In addition to other faculty-supervised writing courses and student publication opportunities there are several advanced legal writing courses taught by faculty in the Legal Research and Writing Program addressing writing for law practice, legislative drafting, and law and literature.

The foundation established in the first-year courses has led to our Appellate Moot Court Board’s success in external moot court competitions and to students winning several national prizes for their writing.

Upper-level students have the opportunity explore legislative drafting, focusing on statutes and statutory drafting, through an innovative Legal Research and Writing course. Final projects involve solving a legal or quasi-legal problem by drafting a report and a statute, ordinance, regulation, procedural rule, or a similar solution.

The Legal Writing Center

The home of the Legal Research and Writing Program is the Bridget and Alfred Pelaez Legal Writing Center, which was built in 2009 and funded by a generous gift from a law school alumnus who wanted to enhance the instruction provided to Duquesne Kline Law students.

Law Alumni Invited to Judge 1-L Appellate Oral Arguments

The Legal Research and Writing Program invites law alumni to serve as judges for the first-year students’ appellate oral arguments on Friday, March, 31 (late afternoon); Saturday, April 1 (morning and afternoon); and Sunday, April 2 (afternoon). We are hopeful that the arguments will be held in-person at the School of Law, but if necessary the arguments will be held via Zoom. Volunteers will judge six students for a three-hour session. Judges will be provided with the students’ briefs and supporting materials in advance, in the form of PDF files.