Writing Requirements: Substantial and SAW

December 14, 2010 - 12 AM

A.S., 2L

Before graduating, all Yale Law students must complete two writing requirements, a Substantial and a Supervised Analytical Writing (SAW). Both of these papers are advised by a professor, which allows students to work closely with at least two professors. The professor who is supervising my SAW is a preeminent legal scholar on international arbitration. In addition to being a well-respected academic, she also has incredible real world experience in her field. For the last decade, she has been the lead counsel in several international public (state-to-state) arbitrations dealing with island sovereignty, maritime delimitation, land boundaries, and mass claims for violations of the laws of war.

For such an established legal powerhouse, it is incredible that she is supervising my paper on water conflict in Africa. There is literally no one in the world who is more qualified to speak on the issue. As my supervisor, she does not merely sign off on administrative papers to show that she is advising me. Instead, she goes above and beyond as a mentor. Though she is traveling the world giving lectures this semester, she is incredibly accessible. She responds to emails within hours. She pours her own time and thoughts into helping develop the thesis of the paper. She also puts me in contact with friends who are working in the field on these very issues so that I may plan a visit to do on the ground research.

Furthermore, we have abandoned the stuffy office setting at the law school. To discuss the paper, she invites a couple students out to her house by the ocean. We sit and drink wine while looking out into the Long Island Sound. Discussion then naturally flows for hours. For those hours, I forget that I am only a law student just starting out in my legal career while my professor is cited in Supreme Court decisions and is regularly called upon to testify in Congress on pressing issues of our day. No barrier exists between us because my professor treats me as an equal. This is a type of attention that I can’t imagine at any other school.