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To: Legal Research & Writing Students

From: The Legal Writing Faculty: Ernie Nardone (Director), Amy Bitterman, Marcia
Crnoevich, Kimberly Guadagno, Barbara Hoffman, Emily Kline, Amy Soled


Table of Contents:

I. Books
II. Grades
III. Attendance
IV. Late Papers and Extensions
V. Stylistic Requirements
VI. Assistance on Assignments from Instructors and Teaching Associates
VII. Cooperation with Others and Plagiarism
VIII. Notices
IX. Questions, Comments, Complaints


A. LR&W Stylistic Requirements
B. Course Grade Calculations: Formula and Examples
C. Plagiarism

The following books are required for this course:

1. The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation (18th ed., Harvard Law Review
Association 2005).
2. Helene S. Shapo et al., Writing and Analysis in the Law (5th ed., Found. Press 2008).
3. Richard Wydick, Plain English for Lawyers (5th ed., Carolina Academic Press 2005).
4. Amy Sloan, Basic Legal Research (4th ed., Aspen L. & Bus. 2009).


You will receive letter grades on five written assignments and your final oral argument.
The weight given each of these toward your final grade will be:

Closed memo rewrite 5%
First Research Memo 20%
Second Research Memo 25%
Trial brief 20%
Appellate brief 25%
Oral argument 5%

All assignments, including those that are ungraded, must be completed to pass the course.
If a student’s paper appears to be less than a serious effort to complete an assignment, the student
will receive an “F” and will be required to re-do it or to do another, similar assignment. The “F”
grade will not be changed. Failure to re-do such an assignment will result in a grade of “F” for
the course. Furthermore, a student must receive a grade of D- or better on at least two of the four
major assignments (the two research memos and the two briefs) to pass the course.

You will receive your three-credit course grade at the end of the second semester for
work done over two semesters. Your course grade will be based primarily on your performance
on the six elements listed above. After calculating your course grade on this basis, your
instructor will have the discretion to raise or lower your grade no more than one step (e.g., raised
from A- to A or lowered from B+ to B) based on the following factors:

C class attendance and participation
C extraordinarily strong or extraordinarily poor effort on ungraded assignments
C adjustment to bring class average between 2.9 and 3.1.

See Appendix B for an example of course grade calculations.

Each instructor will be required to submit course grades for his or her students that
average between 2.9 and 3.1. Students who receive “F” grades for failing to submit one or more
assignments or for excessive absences will not be factored into this average.


The law school’s mandatory attendance policy applies to Legal Research & Writing
classes, including those classes and seminars taught by Teaching Associates and mandatory
LEXIS and WESTLAW training. A student who is more than fifteen minutes late will be
charged with an absence.


A. General

Papers are due at the usual scheduled starting time of your class on the dates indicated on
the syllabus, even when there is no formal class meeting, unless your instructor designates a
different time for his or her students. A paper is subject to late penalties if it is submitted more
than fifteen minutes after this time. You must submit a hard copy; we will not accept a
facsimile or e-mail. Papers submitted late may be returned late.

Your instructor may grant extensions on assignment due dates or times, at his/her
discretion, for good cause, e.g., serious illness (doctor’s note required), or extraordinary personal
problems, such as the death of a family member. The ordinary occasional troubles of personal
and family life and the stress associated with the first year of law school will not justify

The purpose of an extension is to compensate for time lost due to very unusual
circumstances beyond a student’s control. Accordingly, problems with word processors,
computers, printers, and photocopiers, including those in the law school, will not excuse
untimely submission of a paper. A New Jersey case stated that a computer malfunction cannot
excuse an attorney’s late submission of a document to a court:

One does not need to be an expert to recognize that computers do
not always work. It is not uncommon for previously accessible
data to suddenly disappear. There can be any number of reasons
why a computer system fails. There can be human errors inputting
and accessing the data, electrical failures, power surges, and
computer viruses. Not all programs are as dependable as others.
Quite simply, systems fail regularly and do not always perform to
their specifications. Such an occurrence is neither exceptional,
unusual, nor without precedent.

Martinelli v. Farm-Rite, Inc., 785 A.2d 33, 35 (N.J. Super. Ct. App. Div. 2001).

The warnings stated in Martinelli should be heeded by law students as well as attorneys.
Similarly, last minute complications such as traffic jams or transportation problems on the way
to school are foreseeable and will neither constitute an excuse nor justify an extension absent

extraordinary circumstances. Therefore, on due dates for papers, students should plan to arrive
at school with the finished paper before the time scheduled for class.

Students should be aware of the penalties for late papers, so students should arrange to
submit papers on time. If extraordinary circumstances do arise that prevent a student from
submitting his/her paper on time, the student must call the instructor either before class, if
possible, or as soon after class as possible. Failure to call the instructor within a reasonable time
under the circumstances will result in the denial of any requested extension.

B. Penalties for late papers

1. Papers submitted more than fifteen minutes late will be penalized one
grade step, e.g., from an A- to a B+.

2. Papers submitted more than seventy-five minutes late will be penalized
two grade steps, e.g., from an A- to a B.

3. Papers submitted more than three hours late will be penalized one full
grade, e.g., from an A- to a B-.

4. Papers submitted more than twenty-four hours late will be penalized one
full grade plus one grade step, e.g., from an A- to a C+.

5. Papers submitted more than forty-eight hours late will be penalized two
full grades, e.g., from an A- to a C-.

6. If a paper is more than seventy-two hours late the student will receive an
automatic “F” on that paper, and the instructor will set a “final due date”
for the paper. If the student does not submit the paper by the final due
date, the student will receive a grade of “F” for the course regardless of
the student’s performance on other assignments. If the student does
submit the paper by the final due date, the grade on the paper will remain
an “F.” However, the student will not receive an “F” for the course
because of the paper’s lateness. Failure to submit the Appellate Brief
assignment within seventy-two hours of the time due will result in an
additional penalty. The student will be barred from participating in oral
argument and receive a grade of F for that exercise.

7. Failure to submit the required number of copies of an assignment will be
penalized one grade step. For late papers, this penalty will be in addition
to the penalties cited above.

(For an example of late penalties applied to a paper with an original grade of B, see the
chart following the text of this section.)

C. Procedure for submitting late papers
1. If a student plans to submit a paper late, the student must contact his/her
instructor to make arrangements to submit the paper to the instructor, or to
someone whom the instructor designates to receive it, or risk increased

2. If a student leaves the paper somewhere for the instructor, or for someone
designated to receive it, or if a student gives the paper to someone else to
hand in, instead of personally delivering it to the instructor or to someone
the instructor has designated to receive it:

a. the paper will be considered to have been submitted at the time
when it is found by the student’s instructor or when it is handed to
the instructor by the person to whom the student gave it; and

b. the student assumes the risk of the paper being lost before it is
found by or handed to the instructor.

Example of Late Penalties Applied to a “B” Paper

Lateness of Paper Original Grade Late Penalty Actual Grade
More than 15 minutes B 1 grade step B-
More than 75 minutes B 2 grade steps C+
More than 3 hours B 1 full grade C
More than 24 hours B 1 full grade plus one C-
grade step
More than 48 hours B 2 full grades D

More than 72 hours B Automatic F F


The LR&W stylistic requirements (most of which are similar to court rules concerning
briefs) are to be followed for all LR&W assignments, unless the instructions provided with an
assignment indicate otherwise. Failure to follow these requirements will lower your grade
and/or cause an assignment to be returned for revision. See Appendix A.


Students are encouraged to meet with their instructors and TAs during scheduled office
hours. Students also may pose questions to their instructors and TAs through e-mail. Both
instructors and TAs will endeavor to check their e-mail accounts daily Monday through Friday
and respond to e-mails as promptly as possible. However, instructor and TA schedules may vary
from day to day and email systems sometimes fail to function properly, so students should not
rely on e-mail as the primary source of assistance. Finally, e-mails should be used for well-
defined, discrete questions. More wide-ranging questions or those of a more general nature
should be reserved for office hours.

The following guidelines will be followed by all LR&W instructors and TAs:

A. We will respond to questions about the research process, citation form, writing
style, or the general subject matter of an assignment by pointing students in the
right direction without providing answers to assignment questions or citations to
specific sources.

B. If a memo or brief assignment has an essential starting point for the research -- a
particular court rule or statute, for example -- we will tell students whether they
have found this source. If they have not, we may review the necessary research
steps or engage students in a discussion of a hypothetical to help focus on what
they should be looking for. If students have a list of such sources, some of which
they do not need, we may engage them in a discussion of a hypothetical to help
them figure out which source is most relevant.

C. When students are further along in the research on a memo or brief assignment
and ask us to review a list of cases, we may tell them whether their list includes
most of those expected. If it does not, we may review research steps or suggest a
rereading of the hypothetical. If the case list is overinclusive, we may discuss the
principles for narrowing the list, e.g., deciding court, most similar facts. We will
not go through a case list with students and say, "use cases A and B, not case C,"
etc., and we will not review a case list more than twice. We may give a general
reminder about Shepardizing, but will not tell students that they have missed the
subsequent history of particular cases. We may answer specific questions about
citation form, but will not review a list of cites, pointing out errors.

D. If students have prepared a one-page, double-spaced outline or point headings, we
may make suggestions for improvement and tell students whether they have
missed a major issue. We will not tell students what they have failed to include,
but may suggest rereading a particular case or a particular section of the
hypothetical, or recheck the student's research results, or engage the student in a
general discussion by asking questions as a means of prompting a re-evaluation.

E. Although we will not review drafts of an assignment paper, students may pose
specific questions concerning particular sections of their memos and briefs. For
example, a student may ask whether a Question Presented section drafted for a
memo follows the guidelines discussed in class. We may provide guidance and
suggestions for improvement, but we will not edit or rewrite this section of the
paper for the student.

F. We will not review more than two drafts of a section of a memo or brief or more
than two outlines of a discussion or argument.

G. We may set deadlines after which such assistance will not be provided on a
particular assignment and may require that outlines and other materials submitted
for review be provided in advance.

Before asking a question about an assignment, you should make a reasonable effort to
obtain or figure out the answer yourself. Students who appear to have made a substantial effort
to resolve their questions before asking for help will receive more help than students who appear
not to have made this effort. If a student has apparently made no such effort, we may refuse to
answer the question. Please do not make excessive demands on your instructor's or TA's time;
this would be unfair to your classmates.


A. All assignments must be the product of your own independent research and
writing. Students are encouraged to engage in general discussions with each
other on research methods, the interpretation of citation rules, and legal concepts
raised in assignments. Students are not permitted to exchange information on
specific sources or answers to particular questions, to discuss how the law applies
to the facts of a memo or brief writing assignment, or to discuss the citation form
for a specific source with others. Additionally, students may not permit anyone
(including non-student friends and family) to read, correct, or edit their work.
Only your instructor or TA may see your outline or correct or edit your work. No
one may look at a "draft" of an assignment. If instructors and TAs, following the
guidelines in section VI, are the only persons providing help on assignments, no
student will gain an unfair advantage over others. Getting help from another
person while working on a LR&W assignment is the equivalent of getting help
from another person to answer a question on a final examination; in other words,
it is cheating.

B. Students may not quote, paraphrase, or use the ideas of another without
attribution. Students may not incorporate any work of another person into their
own work unless the student credits the original author and identifies the original
author's work with the appropriate citation or acknowledgment. When using
direct quotations of MORE THAN THREE WORDS, quotation marks must be
used IN ADDITION to a citation to the source of the quotation. See Appendix C
for further explanation.

C. Plagiarism - intentionally or negligently representing another's work as the
product of one's own labor in violation of provisions A or B above - violates the
Law School Honor Code and will result in disciplinary proceedings.

D. On most assignments, you are limited to using specific research materials and
methods. Failure to follow these restrictions, failure to promptly return books to
their proper locations on the shelves in the library, or damaging or defacing
library books will be treated as an Honor Code violation.

E. Students are encouraged to ask the Rutgers Law Library staff for assistance in
finding and using library materials needed for LR&W assignments. When you
are permitted to use LEXIS and WESTLAW for your research, you may seek
research guidance from the Customer Service Departments or student
representatives of LEXIS and WESTLAW.

F. These provisions apply to all written assignments. If you have any questions
about these rules, please discuss them with your instructor. When in doubt about
whether certain conduct or discussions would violate these rules, play it safe -
don't do it or discuss it.

G. Students who have violated these rules in the past have:
S received grades of "F" on particular assignments;
S received grades of "F" for the course; and/or
S been suspended from the law school for up to one year.


You are responsible for checking your Rutgers email account, Blackboard, and the mail
slot in your locker DAILY for notices from your LR&W Instructor and Teaching Associates.


All sections of LR&W use the same syllabus and very similar assignments that have been
prepared following guidelines provided by LR&W Program Director Ernie Nardone. All of the
policies and procedures described in this memo apply to all sections. If you are concerned about
perceived inconsistencies or have questions or complaints about your instructor or the program
in general, you should discuss those matters with the instructor of your LR&W section. If you
are dissatisfied with the results of that discussion, please make an appointment to discuss the
matter further with Ernie Nardone (Rm. 472; (973) 353-3182); in such circumstances students in
Ernie Nardone's sections may take their concerns to Associate Dean Gregory Mark.



Cover Page: Give only:
! Name of the assignment (e.g., Closed Memo Assignment)
! Your name and section number.
! Date submitted

Paper: ! 8-1/2 x 11 inch white paper.
! No facsimiles or e-mails.

Margins: ! Centered with one-inch minimum margins on both sides.
! Do not justify right margin.
! Indent the first line of each paragraph.

Type: ! Typewritten and double-spaced (exceptions noted below).
! You need not triple (or quadruple) space between
paragraphs or before headings.
! Must average no more than twelve characters per inch.
Students are advised to measure a randomly selected five-
inch portion of text and count the characters (remembering
that spaces are characters). If the five-inch portion contains
more than sixty characters the rule is violated.
! No more than twenty-six lines on any page, including
footnotes and headings, excluding page number.
! Neat, hand-printed, minor corrections in blue or black ink
may be acceptable.
! When italics would be appropriate, use underscoring
! Quotations of fifty or more words are to be indented and
single-spaced as “block quotes.”
! In brief-writing assignments, point headings should be
! For purposes of the twenty-six lines per page limit, two
lines of a block quote or point heading will count as one

Citation: In accordance with The Bluebook, unless assignment instructions
state otherwise.

Binding: Staple in upper left corner; do not use paper clips or cardboard or
plastic binders or covers.

Pagination: ! Cover page is not included in page limits.
! Number each page in the bottom center margin.
! Type or print your last name at the bottom of each page.
! All assignments must be printed on only one side of the

Processing: ! Always "back-up" data and print drafts as frequently as
seems prudent.
! Computer or printing problems will not excuse late papers.
! You must retain a hard copy of each document submitted.
! If your word processing program makes it difficult for you
to comply with any of the stylistic requirements, discuss
the problem with your instructor. Accommodations will be
made, if necessary.

Penalties: ! Exceeding the page limit on a letter-graded assignment will
result in a penalty of up to one full grade, e.g., A- to B-.
! Violations of the rules on margins, lines per page, or type
size may be the equivalent of violations of the page limit
and be penalized accordingly.
! Violations of other stylistic requirements will be penalized
as deemed appropriate by your instructor.



Assignment grades are calculated based on the following scale:

A+ = 4.33 B+ = 3.33 C+ = 2.33 D+ = 1.33 F=0
A = 4.00 B = 3.00 C = 2.00 D = 1.00
A- = 3.67 B- = 2.67 C- = 1.67 D- = .67

The following is an example of how course grades are calculated:

Assignment Grade Num. Weight Total
Closed memo rewrite C+ 2.33 x 5% = .117
1st Research memo B- 2.67 x 20% = .534
2d Research memo B- 2.67 x 25% = .668
Trial brief B 3.00 x 20% = .600
Appellate brief B+ 3.33 x 25% = .833
Oral argument A- 3.67 x 5% = .184

Preliminary grade 2.936

Preliminary course grades are then assigned a letter grade based on the following scale:

A+ = 4.17 or higher B+ = 3.17 to 3.49 C+ = 2.17 to 2.49 D = 1.00 to 1.49
A = 3.84 to 4.16 B = 2.84 to 3.16 C = 1.84 to 2.16 F = .99 or below*
A- = 3.50 to 3.83 B- = 2.50 to 2.83 C- = 1.50 to 1.83

Therefore, a student with a preliminary grade of 2.936 will receive a letter grade of “B.”
This student’s course grade may then, at the discretion of the instructor, be raised to “B+” or
lowered to “B-” based on the following factors:

C class attendance and participation
C extraordinarily strong or extraordinarily poor effort on ungraded assignments
C adjustment to bring class average between 2.9 and 3.1

* If a student fails to earn a grade of D- or better on at least two of the four major assignments
(the two research memos and the two briefs), the student will receive a grade of F for the course
regardless of the preliminary grade score.



Based upon a pamphlet distributed by the Legal Writing Institute.
Used with permission of the Institute.
See also Section VII of the Legal Research and Writing Course Manual.


pla' gi a rism, n. Taking the work of another, presenting it as one’s own work without
appropriate attribution, and reaping from its use any benefit from an academic institution.


To help you avoid plagiarism and learn appropriate attribution methods, consider the
examples below, based on the following law review excerpt:

A "handicap" could be defined by listing certain traditionally-recognized handicapping
conditions, or a legislature may choose to provide a more comprehensive list of the types
of disabilities that will be considered "handicapping conditions" in that state. These
approaches are problematic, however, because they can lead to legislation that does not
include certain groups of handicapped people simply because the legislature was not
aware of a particular handicap.

Maureen O'Connor, Defining "Handicap" for Purposes of Employment Discrimination, 30 Ariz.
L. Rev. 633, 636 (1988).

RULE 1: You must acknowledge the direct use of someone else's words.

Example: The term “handicap” may be defined in general terms, or a legislature may
choose to provide a more comprehensive list of the types of disabilities that will be
considered "handicapping conditions" in that state.*

When you quote more than three words directly from a source, to avoid plagiarism you must
place quotation marks around the quoted words (the italicized words in the example) and provide
a citation or footnote at the end of the words or the end of the sentence (see the asterisk, above).

RULE 2: You must acknowledge any ideas you paraphrase from any source.

Example: It is problematic to define a handicap by providing a list of the types of
disabilities that will be covered because certain groups of people might be excluded.*
The legislature might simply be unaware of certain handicaps.*

When you paraphrase, or restate, someone else's words, to avoid plagiarism you must provide
proper attribution. In the example above, citations or footnotes must be provided at the asterisks.
Even if you replace a few words and/or change the order of the source sentence, you must cite
your source.

RULE 3: You must acknowledge your direct use of someone else's idea(s).

Example: The term "handicap" is difficult to define in a statute. An alternative is to
attempt to provide a complete list of covered disabilities, but this will be inadequate;
some conditions will inevitably be omitted.*

If you express the same idea(s) as another source, to avoid plagiarism you must provide
proper attribution. In the example above, a citation must be provided at the asterisk. Unlike the
first two examples, a comparison of the two statements might not yield conclusive evidence of
plagiarism. But if you borrow an idea from, or express a similar idea as, another source, you
must include a citation to that source. If you are in doubt about whether an attribution is
required, err on the side of providing one; remember that in legal writing, citations to
authoritative sources bolster the persuasiveness of your argument.


You should acknowledge your source when your own analysis or conclusion builds on that

Example: When defining statutory terms, legislators should not attempt to draft a
complete list specifying everything the statute is intended to cover. Such lists will
inevitably be incomplete; some will later make a claim that the legislators did not
anticipate. Further, the statutory list may quickly become outdated.*

Legal writers often build on other sources to develop their own analysis or arrive at their own
conclusions. Sometimes a source may trigger a relevant idea. In these instances, a citation to the
original source, using an appropriate signal, should be included. Careful legal scholars would
provide a citation at the asterisk.

You should acknowledge your source when your idea about a case came from a source
other than the case itself.

Assume that the law review excerpt above led you to the following idea about the Arline case:

Example: Arline illustrates that it is possible for the statutory definition included in
section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act to be construed in such a way as to bring many
handicapped individuals within its reach.* Sch. Bd. of Nassau County v. Arline, 480 U.S.
273 (1987).

When a secondary source influences your thinking about a primary source, you should include
citations to both sources. In the example above, careful legal scholars would provide at the
asterisk not only a citation to the Arline case (as in the example), but also a citation to
O'Connor's law review note, including the page number where she discusses Arline. You should
cite the article even though you read Arline and might have made the observation contained in
the statement without reading O'Connor's work.


Collaboration: In the Legal Research & Writing course at Rutgers, permitted and prohibited
collaboration is defined in detail in Section VII of the Legal Research & Writing Course Manual.


Committing plagiarism violates the Rutgers Law School Honor Code. Sanctions for plagiarism
may be academic (lowered or failing grade) or disciplinary (notation on student record, private
or public reprimand, suspension, or expulsion), or a combination.


What should I do if I formulate an original argument and then find that same rationale
presented by a source I later consult?

A thorough and careful legal scholar would acknowledge that source. In your citation, you could
explain or qualify what the source says to distinguish it from your idea. For example, "See Doe
v. Doe, 923 P.2d 945, 948 (Wash. 1988) (making a similar argument in the context of divorces
initiated by abandoned spouses).”

Don't all attorneys collaborate with their colleagues and make use of brief banks
maintained by their firms?

Yes, but the outcome of a legal matter does not depend upon the amount of original work
contributed by one attorney. The grades you receive in law school are supposed to depend upon
the quality of your own work. We want you to be a qualified contributor to your law firm's brief
bank, not just someone who borrows from it.

But I collaborate with students in study groups in other classes! Why is LR&W different?

In most courses your grade is based on what you demonstrate on an exam; in Legal Research &
Writing it is based primarily on your written assignments. Your collaboration in other classes
ends when the exam is handed out. Collaborating with another student on a Legal Research &
Writing assignment would be as wrong as writing an exam question answer together for another