Upper-Level Writing Requirement

A. Goals of the Upper-level Writing Requirement

  • Assessment of written communication skills;
  • Assessment of citation skills;
  • Assessment of researching skills;
  • Assessment of critical-thinking skills;
  • Assessment of a student’s ability to evaluate the law;
  • Assessment of a student’s ability to synthesize the law;
  • Assessment of a student’s ability to analyze the law.

B. Upper-level Writing Requirements

  1. Requirements Generally. Each student must complete a substantial paper that, in the judgment of the reviewing professor:

a. Is the original work product of the student;

b. Reflects substantial, thorough legal research;

c. Describes the status of the existing law and reflects the scholarship in the discipline;

d. Reflects competent clarity, organization, style, editing, and citation; and

e. Includes substantial, original, and competent analysis that evaluates the law and contributes to the discipline.

2. Other Requirements. In addition to the above requirements:

a. The paper must be no less than 5,000 words of text, exclusive of footnotes and endnotes;

b. A thesis statement, outline, draft paper and final paper must be submitted by the student on or before deadlines set by the faculty member; and,

c. Each component (i.e., thesis statements, outlines, etc.) must be submitted so that the faculty member can provide feedback on the component and the student can fully act on that feedback while producing the next component.

3. Faculty Certification of Satisfaction

The supervising faculty member must certify in writing using the appropriate form from the Office of the Registrar that the student has met all the requirements set forth above.  This Certification Form must be on file with the Office of the Registrar in order for the student’s record to reflect satisfaction of the Upper-Level Writing Requirement.

4. Eligibility

A student must have satisfactorily completed 30 credit hours before commencing the Upper-Level Writing Requirement. The paper must be prepared under the supervision of a full-time member of the faculty. With the prior approval of the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, the paper may be prepared under the supervision of an adjunct professor teaching a course pursuant to 5 a. below.

5. Supervision Requirement

The supervision requirement may be satisfied:

1. By taking a designated upper level writing course, which will typically be limited to 20 students, in which the student writes an original paper complying with the writing requirement, as set forth in B.1. and 2. above, and earns a grade of B or better on the paper;

2. Through independent study supervised by a faculty member, with prior approval of the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs. The proposal must comply with the Guidelines for Independent Study  which limit projects eligible for independent study and the proposal must be approved by the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs. To receive credit for the Upper-Level Writing requirement, the supervising professor must certify that the student has complied with the requirements set forth in B. 1. and 2. above, and that the completed paper is of sufficient quality that the student would have received a grade of B or better if the paper had been submitted for a graded course; or

3. A student who is a member of the Charleston Law Review may satisfy the Upper-Level Writing Requirement through a paper written for the journal. The paper must be completed under the supervision of a faculty member, who must certify that the student has satisfied all of the requirements set forth in B. 1. and 2. above.  The faculty supervisor also must certify that the completed paper is of sufficient quality that the student would have received a grade of B or better if the paper had been submitted for a graded course.

6. Double Dipping

Students may not submit one paper for two or more courses. If a student wishes to create a second paper which draws in any way on work previously used for academic credit, the student must consult with both the instructor to whom the initial work was submitted and with the instructor to whom the new work will be submitted. Before the student may use the prior work, both instructors must certify in writing to the Curriculum Committee that the new work is of sufficiently greater scope or depth to warrant the use of the prior work for the Upper-Level Writing Requirement. The instructors involved in each instance should discuss appropriate ways to ensure the submitted work meets this greater burden before giving their written approval of the proposed use.

This rule applies to papers whether written at the School of Law or elsewhere. A student who submits the same, or substantially the same, work in more than one course—whether it is the whole of the second work or only a portion thereof—without obtaining such prior written approval, will be subject to disciplinary action.

7. Other

When designated as an option in the course registration materials for any given semester, students may take a skills course to satisfy the Upper-Level Writing Requirement; however, students may not use the same course to satisfy both the Skills Requirement and the Upper Level Writing Requirement.