M. Upper-Level Writing Requirement
In accordance with American Bar Association standards, all J.D. degree candidates must satisfy the Law School’s upper-level writing requirement by completing at least one substantial research paper during law school. J.D. students may not satisfy the upper-level writing requirement during their first year of law school. LL.M. degree candidates also must satisfy the Law School’s upper-level writing requirement as part of their degree requirements. Briefs, a series of papers or team-written papers may not be used to satisfy the writing requirement.
Students may satisfy the writing requirement as follows:
1) Successfully completing a substantial research paper in a Law School semester-long or yearlong course included on the Approved Writing Requirement Course List.
2) Successfully completing an independent research project (see section VI.H).
3) Successfully completing a substantial research paper by “special request” in a Law School semester-long or yearlong course not included on the Approved Writing Requirement Course List. This option requires students to complete and submit a Writing Requirement Intent Form by the end of the fifth week of the semester in which the research paper is to be submitted. Contact the Student Records Office for details.
4) Dual-degree students may satisfy the writing requirement by writing a substantial research paper on a law-related topic in a course taken in the other school or department — either at UVA or at another institution approved for participation in Virginia’s dual-degree program — provided that a resident Law School faculty member certifies that the written work meets the Law School’s standards for the writing requirement. In no case will this approval result in additional course credit; the certification relates solely to satisfaction of the upper-level writing requirement. This option applies only to work completed as part of the dual-degree program. Undergraduate papers, papers completed in other graduate programs, briefs written over the summer while employed and the like are expressly excluded from satisfying the writing requirement. For more information about this option, contact the assistant dean for academic services.
WRITING REQUIREMENT STANDARD
The expectation is that the written work will be typed, doubled-spaced and a minimum of 7,500 words, footnotes included. However, this is intended only as a guideline. Final determination of appropriate requirements is left to the judgment of the course instructor/supervising faculty member. Students should arrange with the course instructor/supervising faculty member to submit an outline, abstract, first draft or other mutually agreeable research plan for comment prior to submitting the final version of the paper.
For the semester in which a student intends to satisfy the writing requirement, it is the student's responsibility to do the following in a timely manner:
1) enroll in a course designated as satisfying this graduation requirement in the online Current Courses listing. A student in such a course need not submit an Intent form to the Student Records Office; OR
2) submit the required and completed forms with the Student Records Office to enroll in an Independent Research project; OR
3) submit a completed, approved and signed Writing Requirement Intent Form to the Student Records Office no later than the end of the fifth week of the semester. The course instructor/supervising faculty member will be asked at the end of the semester to certify that the research paper submitted satisfies the writing requirement. Every student should be certain that his or her understanding of what is required to meet the writing requirement coincides with that of the course instructor/supervising faculty member; OR
4) submit a completed, approved and signed Dual Degree Substantial Research Paper form to the Student Records Office no later than the end of the fifth week of the semester. At the conclusion of the semester, the Law School’s faculty advisor for the Dual Degree Program will be asked to certify that the paper meets the upper-level writing requirement standard.
Students seeking permission to visit away at another ABA-approved law school must petition the assistant dean for student affairs. Approval will be granted only when the student’s continued presence in the Charlottesville area places an exceptional hardship on the student. An example of a qualifying circumstance would be the onset of a severe illness of a close family member that requires the student’s presence outside of the Charlottesville area. The need to accompany or join a spouse elsewhere, out of area employment opportunities or the desire to study in another location, does not constitute such a hardship. For further information and assistance, contact the assistant dean for student affairs.
NOTE: Transfer students awarded two residency semesters at entrance are not eligible to visit away at another ABA-approved law school.
Students receiving permission to spend one or two semesters at another law school are governed by the following:
1) Students are expected to attend a law school of comparable quality. If that is not possible in the area where the student is located, the student must attend the best available institution in that area, although that fact alone will not ensure its approval; all requests will be considered on an individual basis.
2) Students must satisfy the upper-level writing requirement and complete the required professional ethics and professional skills courses while in attendance at Virginia.
3) Students must be in good academic standing at Virginia before enrolling at the other school.
4) The student’s proposed course schedule at the school visited must be approved by the assistant dean for academic services.
5) Enrollment at the school visited must be on a full-time basis and for a minimum of 12 semester credits (or the equivalent) each semester.
6) Students may not enroll in courses at the school visited that duplicate courses completed at Virginia.
7) Only grades of C (or its equivalent) or better earned at the school visited will be credited toward the Virginia degree. Pass/fail grades will be accepted for courses graded only on a pass/fail basis.
NOTE: D, F, NC and U grades (or their equivalents) awarded at visited institutions earn exclusion points in the same manner as grades earned at Virginia (see section I.J.2.C).
8) Students who have received an F grade in a course at Virginia will not be allowed to transfer credit for that course from the school visited.
9) Registration as a “not-in-residence” student and payment of the associated fee at the University of Virginia are required during the semester in which the student intends to graduate.
NOTE: Grade and credit certifications from the school visited must be received by the Virginia Student Records Office no later than 10 a.m. on the Thursday preceding Virginia’s May commencement in order to receive a diploma at commencement.
10) Students who undertake course work at the University of Virginia while visiting away are responsible for any resulting tuition and fee charges at Virginia.
11) Grades received at the school visited are not included in the calculation of Virginia grade point averages or in the consideration of Virginia honors.
All class sessions and meetings must be completed on or before the applicable “Classes End” date identified on the Academic Calendar. Clinical instructors for single-semester clinics should not expect students to submit written work product or undertake other client-related work after the “Classes End” date on the Academic Calendar. Clinical instructors for yearlong clinics should not expect students to submit written work product or undertake other client-related work during the Fall exam period or after the “Classes End” date at the conclusion of the Spring term.
No examination “review sessions” (even optional ones) should be held by instructors during the reading period or the exam period. Instructor office hours, of any duration, location, and/or frequency, during the reading period or exam period are acceptable.
1) The Vice Dean, in consultation with the Assistant Dean for Academic Services and Registrar, determines and assigns the number of credits for Law School courses. Credits are assigned in accordance with Standard 310 of the American Bar Association's Standards and Rules of Procedure for Approval of Law Schools.
2) One credit hour is the amount of work that reasonably approximates 42.5 total hours of (a) classroom/direct faculty instruction time and (b) out of class work. One credit hour for other academic activities approved for credit by the Law School (e.g., independent research projects) reasonably approximates the equivalent amount of work. Ordinarily, exam, paper and professional skills courses will have at least 2 hours of outside work for every 50 minutes of time spent in class or direct faculty instruction.
a) Exam courses: 42.5 hours per credit of time spent in class, preparing for class (reading or completing class assignments or assessments), and preparing for and taking an exam.
b) Paper courses (e.g., most seminars): 42.5 hours per credit of time spent in class, preparing for class (reading or completing class assignments or assessments), and/or researching and writing the required paper(s). NOTE: If the written work product is a substantial research paper that fulfills the Law School's upper class writing requirement (see section I.M.) additional out of class work may be required.
c) Field placement or clinic: 42.5 hours per credit of time spent in class, performing field placement or clinic work, preparing for class or completing class assignments, and preparing for and taking an exam (if applicable).
3) With the exception of independent research projects (see section VI.H.), if a student spends more than the minimum number of total hours per credit on the course, no additional credit beyond the established amount will be awarded for satisfactory completion of the course.
4) For new courses, the Vice Dean, in consultation with the Assistant Dean for Academic Services and Registrar, will review the proposed course description, meeting times, requirements, and assessments to determine and assign credits. New course proposals should include a general course description, a description or estimate of out of class work, and a description or estimate of the time to be spent in class sessions or direct faculty instruction in order to justify the credits that will be awarded. The Vice Dean or the Assistant Dean for Academic Services and Registrar may consult further with the faculty member teaching the course, the Curriculum Committee, or other faculty at the Law School to determine the credits to be awarded.
5) Each semester, the Vice Dean, in consultation with the Assistant Dean for Academic Services and Registrar, will audit current courses to ensure compliance with this policy.
6) The Law School's curriculum committee will review these policies and procedures annually.