Writing Requirements

For graduation, each student must complete 3 units of Supervised Analytic Writing and prepare a Substantial Paper of at least 2 units. Prior to beginning work on a Supervised Analytic Writing paper or Substantial Paper, a student should secure the approval of the supervising faculty member. At least one of these writing requirements must be satisfied before a student can register for the penultimate term at the Law School. Specifically, the Law School requires that the supervisor of one of those writing projects must certify the student’s successful completion of the project before the student can register for the penultimate term; the faculty certification must include a final grade for the paper. For most J.D. students, the penultimate term is the fifth term; however, for joint-degree students, the penultimate term is the fourth term. For students who will enter their penultimate term in the fall, the deadline for final certification is August 1; for those whose penultimate term is the spring, the deadline is the last day of the fall-term examination period.

A Supervised Analytic Writing paper for 3 units involves work that is closely supervised by a professor and is designed to increase the student’s proficiency in legal research, analytic reasoning, and writing in a single field of concentration; the paper may not be purely descriptive in character. Supervised Analytic Writing papers may not be submitted on a credit/fail basis and must be certified with a final grade of Pass or higher. Students are strongly encouraged to begin their Supervised Analytic Writing paper no later than the beginning of their penultimate term. Many faculty members require a two-term commitment for Supervised Analytic Writing papers and will not supervise students beginning papers in their last term.

A Substantial Paper for 2 units of credit, although not necessarily meeting the criteria for a Supervised Analytic Writing paper, must be a significant written project. Supervisors may accept Substantial Papers written for a Supervised Research program or course offered on either a graded or credit/fail basis. For Substantial Papers that are written as Supervised Research, the election of graded or credit/fail must be made at the beginning of the project. If a Substantial Paper is certified on a graded basis, the final grade must be Pass or higher.

Supervised Analytic Writing papers or Substantial Papers may be prepared in connection with (1) seminars or courses, (2) research and writing under faculty supervision. Work done in courses outside the Law School will not be accepted in satisfaction of the writing requirements.

Only instructors with particular appointments at Yale Law School are eligible to serve as supervisors for Supervised Analytic Writing papers or Substantial Papers.