University of Maryland

Advanced Writing Requirement

The Requirement

  • Prior to graduation, each student must complete a paper of substantial quality with a substantial research component, with a grade of “B” or better. A student may satisfy the Advanced Writing Requirement:
  • by writing a paper for an approved seminar. Each semester the Advance Registration Information lists the seminars that are approved for satisfaction of the requirement; or
  • by writing the equivalent of a seminar paper in a course offered for at least two credits, if the instructor agrees in advance that the written work is of the kind that will satisfy the Advanced Writing Requirement; or
  • by doing Independent Written Work for one or more credits, supervised by a full-time faculty member. Students wishing to satisfy the requirement through Independent Written Work must submit a written proposal to a full-time faculty supervisor before the beginning of their second-to-last semester. The proposal should include a summary of the proposed topic, a preliminary thesis, and a research plan. The proposal must be approved by the faculty supervisor, who will meet regularly with the student in tutorial sessions during the course of the writing project, and will provide feedback on interim drafts.
  • Students satisfying the Advanced Writing Requirement through a course or seminar should take that course or seminar no later than the fifth semester (day division) or seventh semester (evening division). The option of satisfying the Advanced Writing Requirement through Independent Written Work will not be available to students in their last semester of law school.

The Product

  • To meet the Advanced Writing Requirement, a paper must be of “substantial quality.” This requires a written product that is more than minimally adequate.
  • A paper must receive a grade of B or better to satisfy the Advanced Writing Requirement.
  • A paper that is less than 25-30 pages long, exclusive of notes, is unlikely to meet the requirement.
  • A paper that does not show an awareness of the pertinent primary (e.g., case law, legislation) and secondary authority is unlikely to qualify.
  • A paper that merely reports, compiles or describes the work of other authors rather than engaging in original, thoughtful analysis is unlikely to qualify.
  • An appellate brief would not ordinarily meet the Advanced Writing Requirement.

The Process

  • The faculty member will meet with the student at least once to plan the writing project. If the student is satisfying the requirement through Independent Written Work, the full-time faculty member will meet regularly with the student in tutorial sessions during the course of the writing project.
  • The faculty member will review and comment on at least one written draft of the paper before the student submits a final version of the paper.
  • The faculty member will communicate to the student the faculty member’s evaluation of the strengths and weaknesses of the student’s final written product.
  • When the faculty member is prepared to certify that the student’s final written product satisfies the writing requirement, the student must complete and submit to the faculty supervisor an Advanced Writing Requirement Certification Form. The faculty supervisor then must sign the Advanced Writing Requirement Certification Form, certifying the student’s satisfaction of the requirement, and file it in the law school’s Office of Registration and Enrollment.