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Legal & Law Programs ►Legal Writing Specialist Certificate Program with Externship

Program includes National Certification & an Externship Opportunity

The Legal Writing Specialist

The Legal Research & Writing course is designed to introduce students to legal thought, writing styles and research methods used in the profession every day. Students will be introduced to various methods used to solve clients’ problems by using effective research techniques, accurate and in-depth legal analysis, and the clear and concise written and oral communication that are paramount to the legal profession. As these skills can only improve with a great deal of practice, this course offers the foundation from which students can build on these skills for years to come.

The Legal Writing Specialist Program

For those students looking toward law school or who are interested in the paralegal profession, this program offers an incredibly useful and realistic look into the actual work that lawyers and legal professionals do every day. Using a problem-solving approach, students will use the tools and techniques introduced to represent a fictional client and provide the clients with legal advice. Students will learn essential skills of successful lawyers, including researching legal authorities, applying the law to a client’s situation, and communicating that analysis both in writing and verbally.

This program is designed to provide students with a solid working knowledge of the tools available in law libraries, including both state and federal primary and secondary materials. Students will find, analyze, and solve problems in the legal world. In addition, students will adapt the research material into legal memoranda, briefs and other useful work product while communicating the results in a competent and ethical manner.

Program Objectives

At the conclusion of this program, students will be able to:

  • Summarize research practices used by a paralegal
  • Analyze ethical issues related to research
  • Describe the main products of legal research
  • Analyze the facts in a case
  • Classify legal research sources
  • Differentiate mandatory authority from persuasive authority
  • Research enacted law
  • Analyze enacted law
  • Research case law
  • Analyze case law
  • Use secondary sources as part of legal research
  • Compare researched cases with client cases
  • Validate case law using a citator
  • Apply professional writing styles appropriate for legal communication
  • Write a case brief
  • Write an internal memorandum of law
  • Prepare other legal documents
  • Use Microsoft Office


  • Describe the research responsibilities of a paralegal
  • Give examples of situations requiring legal research
  • Describe the sources and products of legal research
  • Summarize the proper ethical procedure for legal research
  • Determine ethically appropriate responses to research-related situations


  • Describe the purpose and components of an internal memorandum of law
  • Describe the purpose and components of a case brief
  • Describe the purpose and components of a trial brief
  • Describe the purpose and components of an appellate brief


  • Distinguish key facts, explanatory facts, and legally unimportant facts in a case
  • Summarize the legal issues in a client case
  • Summarize the legal issues in a reported case
  • Identify the legal history of a reported case
  • Summarize the holdings, reasoning, and disposition in a case


  • Describe sources for legal research
  • Differentiate between primary and secondary sources
  • Identify appropriate uses of primary and secondary sources
  • Define mandatory authority
  • Define persuasive authority
  • Differentiate between the uses of mandatory and persuasive law


  • Describe types of enacted law
  • Distinguish when to use each type of enacted law
  • Distinguish when to use enacted federal versus enacted state law
  • Locate enacted law relevant to a case


  • Determine whether enacted law applies to a case
  • Explain relevance of a type of enacted law to a case
  • Apply enacted law to a case's facts


  • Describe types of case law
  • Distinguish when to use each type of case law
  • Distinguish when to use federal case versus state case law
  • Locate case law relevant to a case


  • Identify the components of a court decision
  • Analyze similarities and differences between cases
  • Apply an example of case law to another case or client situation


  • Apply secondary sources to a relevant case
  • Locate secondary sources relevant to a case
  • Use secondary sources when researching a topic


  • Define the concepts of stare decisis and precedent
  • Identify precedents favoring a client and favoring the opponent
  • Compare a researched case to a client's case
  • Explain the relevance of a researched case to a client's case


  • Explain validation in the context of case law
  • Describe the purpose of a citator
  • Describe how various types of authority can be validated
  • Confirm that a case is correctly updated using print and online resources
  • Find parallel citations to a case in other legal resources


  • Apply fundamentals of good writing to legal documents
  • Write legal documents applying an advocacy tone
  • Write legal documents applying a neutral tone


  • Document the case name and its citations
  • Document the judicial history of the case
  • Document the facts in the case
  • Document the issues in the case
  • Document the relevant primary sources for the court's reasoning
  • Document the court's reasoning and its holding
  • Identify components of a case brief


  • Document the facts of a case
  • State the legal issues in a case
  • Discuss the issues in a case
  • Explain the purpose of an internal memorandum of law


  • Write a settlement letter applying a persuasive tone
  • Write legal documents applying an informational tone
  • Write legal documents applying an appropriate adversarial tone
  • Describe the components of an appellate brief
  • Describe how a memorandum of law can serve as the basis for an appellate brief

Note: This program can be completed in 6 months. However, students will have online access to this program for a 24-month period.

Education and National Certifications

  • Students should have or be pursuing a high school diploma or GED.
  • There are no state approval and/or state requirements associated with this program.
  • There is a National Certification exam available to students who successfully complete this program:
    • Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS) Certification Exam

National Certification

Upon successful completion of this program, students would be eligible to sit for the Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS) exam. Although there are no state approval, state registration or other state requirements for this program, students who complete this program  will be prepared and are eligible to sit for this national certification exam. Students who complete this program are encouraged to complete the externship option with their program. Students who complete this program can and do sit for the MOS national certification exams and are qualified, eligible and prepared to do so.  works with each student to complete the exam application and register the student to take their national certification exam.

Externship / Hands on Training / Practicum

Although not a requirement, once students complete the program, they have the ability to participate in an externship and/or hands on practicum so as to practice the skills necessary to perform the job requirements of a professional in this field. Students will be assisted with completing a resume and/or other requirements necessary to work in this field. All students who complete this program are eligible to participate in an externship and will be placed with a participating organization near their location.  works with national organizations and has the ability to place students in externship opportunities nationwide.

Note: No refunds can be issued after the start date published in your Financial Award document.