One of my most challenging endeavors as an undergrad was completing my thesis. I put a lot of blood, sweat and tears into that effort. Okay, maybe that is a bit of an exaggeration, but it sure involved a lot of work. Now, as a 2L facing the J.D. Substantial Writing requirement, I feel like I’m entering Round 2.
All J.D. students at NYU Law must complete an extensive paper on a legal topic of their choosing. Students can opt to write it  through directed research with a professor, or they can–as I am–write it as part of a seminar. Adding some excitement- and perhaps a little more pressure- to the process, students also can choose to use their paper as the basis for a “note” submitted to one of NYU Law’s student journals.
Right now I’m in the process of refining my topic and drafting the paper’s outline.  My paper is going to explore connections between human dignity (the subject of the seminar I’m enrolled in) and prisoner rehabilitation. I’m also approaching this topic from an international/ comparative law perspective, a long-time interest of mine. I’m trying to find an original spin, and I’m spending  lots of time reading cases and scholarly articles, and even braving the intimidating and somewhat creepy-looking library book stacks in search of research gold.
Stay tuned for how the rest of this process unfolds.  My hope is that in the end, at the very least, it’s a paper that somebody somewhere- besides my ever supportive parents- will want to read.
This entry was written by and posted on October 13, 2010.
The entry was filed under these categories: Classes, International Law, Law Journals

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11 comments on “Tackling Law School’s Writing Requirement
  1. Dele says:

    Hey Amanda,
    I’m currently a masters student in engineering, considering law school as my next bus stop (precisely IP/TL). However, I really don’t enjoy writing a lot. So how horrible do you think my law school experience will be?

  2. Amanda Ploch says:

    Hi Dele,

    Thanks for your question. Since I’m coming from a political science background where writing has always been a big part of what I do, I’m not sure what it’d be like for somebody in your situation. However, writing is a big part of what learning to be a lawyer is all about, whether it’s doing writing assignments for the first-year Lawyering class, completing the substantial writing requirement, or writing research memos during summer internships.

    I’d suggest getting in contact with our admissions office or student affairs- they might be able to put you in contact with a law student from an engineering background who felt them same way about writing.

    Best of luck!

  3. Paula says:

    Hi Amanda

    I’m a Swedish law student, in the process of finishing my masters thesis. I have a great interest in HR and public international law but because the Swedish law degree is so general and focused mainly on national law I’ve been long thinking of going to the States for a onew year LLM. As I understand it, you’re in the JD program but I was hoping you maybe had some insight into the LLM as well…
    For instance is it common to go directly or soon after the completion of your JD to the LLM? I’m trying to understand what other kind of ppl I might meet there, have the LLM students had a few years of work experience or are they still “young beginners” (for lack of a better word) straight from the JD prog.?
    I’m 26 and in Sweden that’s a pretty average age to complete your studies but I’ve been thinking about the LLM for such a long time now and now would be a good time for me…

    Hope you have some answers for me, the Swedish and the American systems are quite different and finding all kinds of info on the internet isn’t always easy…



  4. Amanda Ploch says:

    Hi Paula,

    I don’t know a lot about the LLM program. Some JD students come directly from completing their undergraduate degree, but most do not- I would think that this trend probably the same for LLMs, and that many do have work experience before beginning the LLM program.

    Our graduate admissions office ( could probably provide you with more information about the work experience of LLMs before coming to NYU Law.

    All the best,

  5. Richard says:

    Hi Amanda,

    I graduated with a BA in International Relations from Florida International University and a Masters in Diplomacy from Norwich University in Vermont. My passion has always been human rights, international relations, political science, and international law in general. I have been considering applying to NYU’s School of Law but I’m still in my research stage. I don’t know if it would be possible for me to speak with you a bit more in detail regarding your application/admissions experience, especially since you also come from a Poli-Sci background like myself. I would truly value your input or perhaps you could refer me to someone else who might be able to answer all the questions I have. I just figured it’s easier asking someone who’s been through it already. I have been working in a field totally unrelated to the one I studied and I think it’s time for me to start making a positive contribution in this field. Perhaps law school would be the next best step, especially if I focus on international law. I am now 35 yrs. old and I never thought I’d be considering going back to school. I hope I’m not in a huge 30-something minority at NYU…hehehe.

    Any help you could provide would be greatly appreciated.



  6. Pam K. says:

    Hi Richard. I edit this blog for NYU and thought I’d jump in here and give you some direction on where to get answers.
    First, I’d suggest taking a look at this Q/A with admissions director for NYU Law:

    Second, get in touch with Admissions Office. You can call or email, or visit!

    Hope this helps!

  7. Amanda Ploch says:

    Hi Richard,

    Thanks for your comment. I would be happy to email you about my own application/admissions experience.

    In general the law school’s admission office is a fantastic source of information. Also, many students here come to law school after several years of doing something else (a career, graduate studies in another field, etc.). Also, there is a student group- OWLS (Older Wiser Law Students- who describe themselves as “an organization for older students, second-career students, and students who in any other way depart from the mold of the “traditional” law student.” The law school in general is really supportive of students, no matter where they are in life.

    Hope this helps!

  8. John says:

    Hello I have 5 IGCSE in History,English,French,Biology and Math and plan to get an A level in English/Literature is it enough to get in Law at NYU.

  9. pk767 says:

    The Office of Admissions can answer those kinds of questions.

  10. Julie says:

    Hi Amanda,

    Thanks for all your posts and feedback. Very helpful. I understand that NYU is very competitive to get into. You usually need to have something spectacular in your application in order to get admitted. What do you think was that spectacular thing on yours that you believe most likely led to you getting accepted aside from good grades in school and on exams?



  11. Amanda Ploch says:

    Hi Julie,

    The law school admissions process is a very closed-door process. It’d be unwise for me to give any claim about why they chose me, since I don’t know. I don’t know how any single factor, or combination of factors, impacted my application selection, or that of any other student here.

    That being said, I’d recommend making your application shine in as many areas as possible, since you never know what will catch their eye. A lot of it is timing- get in those applications as early as possible, so there’s more spots open for admitting students when they read your application. Write an amazing personal statement. Get great recommendations. Most of all be yourself- let your personal passion shine through. Research the school well, so that you can show that you and the school go together well. I realize this is sort of generic advice, but keep in mind that in the end it’s hard to know exactly what goes on in the admissions process- it’s still a mystery to me!

    Best of luck!


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