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Release: Immediate

UI College of Law offers unique class on corporate writing

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Law students at the University of Iowa will be drafting documents as lawyers for officers of a fictional corporation and completing other business writing assignments as part of a unique class offered this spring.

"Legal Writing in a Corporate Setting" is a two-credit hour course designed to teach students the importance of writing in a corporate setting and to expose them to the variety of writing tasks they will have to complete as successful business lawyers.

Lisa Curtis, a former corporate attorney in New Orleans who came to the UI as a student in the Iowa Writers' Workshop, created the class and is teaching it for the first time in the spring 1997 semester.

"Writing is integral to the practice of law," Curtis says. "And the writing demanded of staff legal counsel at a corporation is a little bit different from what is commonly taught at law schools. Corporate attorneys have to write for a variety of audiences, including employees, boards of directors, outside attorneys, opposing attorneys and others."

Curtis, associate director of the College of Law's Writing Resource Center, was vice president and senior staff attorney in the legal department of First Commerce Corp., a multi-bank holding company with $7 billion in assets, in New Orleans when she enrolled in the Writers' Workshop in 1994.

She drew on her professional experience in designing the new class, which begins Thursday, Jan. 16. Students will meet weekly as the legal staff of a fictional corporation. Students will confront hypothetical situations facing their employer.
"It's a practical, hands-on course with real-life applications," Curtis says. "The emphasis will be on the process of writing."

Curtis has put her own legal career on hold while she completes a novel. She earned a master's of fine arts degree from the UI in 1996 for her work in the Writers' Workshop. She holds a law degree from Tulane University.

Curtis is also the latest lawyer-writer at the UI College of Law to combine her skills in law with her interests in writing through the Iowa Writers' Workshop. Other notable instructors at the law school include novelists Stephen Greenleaf and Cameron Stracher.

The Writing Resource Center, begun in 1989, is the first such center at a U.S. law school. The Center's staff helps faculty and students hone their skills in writing briefs, legal memoranda, opinions and other academic work.