The Harry A. Bigelow Legal Research and Writing Program is the Law School's program to train first-year students in the skills most critical to the legal profession: legal research and legal writing. The program lasts for three quarters -- the entirety of the first year.
The term "Bigelow" at Chicago refers to several things. First, groups of students are known as "Bigelow sections." First-year students are divided into six sections, and each section will take all of its courses together all year. All of these courses (such as Torts and Contracts) will be taken in conjunction with two other sections, except for the legal research and writing course, also known as "Bigelow." This course is taught separately to each section of approximately 32 students. The teaching fellows who teach the Bigelow course are known as "Bigelow fellows." These teaching fellows come to the Law School for two years to gain experience towards a career as a legal academic. The course curriculum consists of extensive instruction in legal research both on-line and in books, legal analysis, drafting of memoranda and briefs, training in legal citation form, and oral argument. Assignments (often called "Bigelow assignments" by the students) are turned in regularly and the fellows provide feedback.
The Law School prides itself on providing rigorous training in these practical skills, and preparing students to do excellent work in their summer jobs and their future legal careers.
- Bigelow: A Student Perspective — The Bigelow experience thought the eyes of a student.
- Bigelow: A Faculty Perspective — Professor Douglas Baird's view of the Bigelow experience.
Bigelow Course Description—LAWS 30711
All first-year students participate in the legal research and writing program under the supervision of one of the six Bigelow Teaching Fellow and Lecturer in Laws. The work requires the student to become familiar with the standard tools and techniques of legal research and to write a series of memoranda and other documents representative of the lawyer's regular tasks. A prize, the Joseph Henry Beale Prize, is awarded for the outstanding written work in each legal writing section. The Bigelow Fellows also serve as tutor-advisors on an informal basis.