Columbia Law School Writing Center
Welcome to the Columbia Law School Writing Center. Writing is central to both legal practice and legal education. The Writing Center’s mission is to help students understand what it means to “write like a lawyer” and then become the strongest legal writers possible. Through individual meetings, small workshops, and written reference materials, the center strives to provide Columbia Law School students with tailored advice that takes into account the time and scheduling constraints unique to law school.
The Writing Center is staffed by trained upper-year students who serve as Writing Center Fellows. Fellows work directly with students in a variety of ways. Through one-on-one conferences, Writing Center Fellows answer questions about the writing process, provide feedback on specific pieces of legal writing, and teach students to be their own best editors. Writing Center Fellows also develop an online library of resources that explain some of the most important aspects of legal writing and editing. Finally, Writing Center Fellows lead workshops that address a range of legal writing topics.
For the 2013–14 academic year, individual appointments at the Writing Center are generally open only to first-year and LL.M. students who are enrolled in a mandatory legal writing course, and advice is tailored to meet the needs of these students. For example, Fellows are available to work with first-year students on drafting memos, letters, and briefs, as well as converting those assignments into useful writing samples. Similarly, Fellows can work closely with LL.M. students on adapting their writing to conform to legal conventions in the United States. For this academic year, Fellows are available to meet with upper-year students upon written request from a faculty member. Writing Center Workshops are open to all Columbia Law School students.
Please make an appointment to see how the Writing Center can help you!
PLEASE NOTE THAT THE WRITING CENTER WILL CLOSE FOR THE FALL SEMESTER ON TUESDAY, DECEMBER 3RD. WE WILL REOPEN AT THE START OF THE SPRING SEMESTER. PLEASE CONTACT ILENE STRAUSS (ILENE.STRAUSS@LAW.COLUMBIA.EDU) WITH ANY QUESTIONS WHILE THE CENTER IS CLOSED.
Frequently Asked Questions about the Columbia Law School Writing Center
1. Who can use the Columbia Law School Writing Center?
For the 2013–14 academic year, individual meetings at the Writing Center are open only to first-year and LL.M. students in connection with work in their required legal writing classes. Students can come to the center to discuss a specific piece of written work or a more general legal writing concept.
Students outside of these categories can consult with a Fellow about a piece of writing based upon a written referral from a professor.
2. Where is the Writing Center located?
The center is located on the 8th floor of Jerome L. Greene Hall in Room 812.
3. When is the center open, and how do I schedule an appointment?
View the center's schedule
To schedule an appointment, please click on a time slot and complete all required fields. Please make sure to specify your areas of question or concern in the "notes" section of the sign-up form. As noted below, once you have an appointment, if you wish to discuss a particular piece of writing, you must email your document to firstname.lastname@example.org at least 48 hours before your scheduled appointment.
4. With whom will I meet at the Writing Center?
The Writing Center is staffed by upper-year Writing Center Fellows. All of the fellows have demonstrated outstanding writing ability, as well as a desire to help students understand the value of strong legal writing. You can sign up to see a specific fellow or come to the center’s drop-in hours.
5. What should I do to prepare for an appointment at the Writing Center?
If you are coming to the center to discuss a specific piece of writing, please email the piece to the center at least 48 hours before your appointment. Your email should note the date and time of your scheduled appointment.
You are also welcome to make an appointment to discuss an area of legal writing more generally. In this situation, please make sure that you explain your area of interest in the "notes" section of your sign-up form.
6. What kind of feedback will I receive from a Writing Center Fellow?
Fellows will not line edit or re-write your work for you. They are most likely not versed in the substantive area of law dealt with in your paper. Rather, fellows review your work for common problems or issues related to organization, argument structure, grammar, and style. They then work to help you understand these issues so that you can become a stronger editor of your own work.