Duke Law School

The Upper-Level Writing Requirement

  1. The upper-level writing requirement can be satisfied by the student’s completing an original analytic paper of substantial length (ordinarily at least 30 pages). This paper is in addition to writing that is required as part of the first-year Legal Analysis, Research, and Writing course. Papers satisfying this requirement may be seminar papers, independent study projects, law journal notes, or any other paper that possesses the necessary rigor.
  2. Papers under this rule are to involve significant and thorough independent research, and they are to be well written and properly documented, with appropriate attention to opposing arguments and perspectives. The papers are to be prepared under the supervision of a faculty member. The student is to take the initiative to establish the supervisory relationship with the faculty member in advance of beginning a project under this rule. As part of the supervision, the faculty member will review one or more drafts and subsequent revisions by the student. The supervising faculty member may augment the requirements of this rule with additional stated expectations for the project. Where the writing is done in connection with a course, the faculty member’s agreement to serve as supervisor must be obtained before the end of the add/drop period for the semester in which the course is offered.
  3. When the student’s paper is completed, the faculty member must certify that the paper meets the requirements of this rule, that any additional requirements of the supervising faculty member have been satisfied, and that the paper is of satisfactory quality.
  4. A faculty member may certify that a series of papers or some combination of shorter papers satisfies the expected length requirement, as long as the faculty member concludes that, in the aggregate, the papers satisfy the intended purpose of the writing requirement.
  5. Dual-degree students may satisfy the writing requirement through a substantial research paper on a law-related topic in a course taken in the school or department of the second degree, provided that the student obtains the necessary certification by a Law School governing faculty member.
  6. The student’s engagement in a project under this rule must be registered with the Registrar no later than the end of the add/drop period for the student’s fifth semester, excluding summer study. The Registrar’s Office will advise students of the proper procedures for complying with the requirements of this rule.