Tips for writing a legal memorandum

Whether a judge, supervising attorney, non-profit agency, or legal writing instructor, your reader is your priority. Since the purpose of the memorandum is to answer the legal question posed, you cannot simply say that the law is unclear and leave it at that.

You are presenting your best, most honest estimate of what the law is and how it should be applied to the facts at hand.

10 tips for better legal writing

If your supervisor tells you that you need not include a facts section, then do not include one. The late Judge David Bazelon of the U.

A complete and well-balanced question presented is incisive — it immediately gets to the heart of the legal question — and it orients the reader to the factual context. And never open with a full-blown statement of facts—despite what you may have learned elsewhere. When given an assignment, ask plenty of questions.

You would ascertain which facts are legally significant by referring to the factual criteria based on elements or factors in the legal authority relevant to the question — e. You may choose or be asked to use footnotes or endnotes instead.

In Texas, every knowledgeable practitioner follows the Texas Rules of Form. Will the Internal Revenue Service allow Goliad to claim a charitable deduction for the value of the rent-free lease. Note how the writer alerts the reader to the key point of the doctrine, that general advertisements are treated in law as invitations to negotiate, not offers.

In Schenectady Stove Co. The balanced description of law and fact that you provide in the question presented should be mirrored in the short answer. You can replace the phrase a number of with several or many. Note how the writer alerts the reader to the key point of the doctrine, that general advertisements are treated in law as invitations to negotiate, not offers.

It's not enough to summarize. That can be ruinous. The Discussion section should be broken down into a separate part for each discrete legal issue covered in the memorandum; subheadings are helpful here.

An attorney prepares a memorandum of law to succinctly explain the facts and the law in advance of a hearing, as this practice helps the parties to a lawsuit avoid lengthy expositions in court and prepares judges and juries for their deliberations.

In your own memo, you can recount the facts completely chronologically, you can put the most important incidents or facts first, or you can cluster the facts into discrete topics if the facts are complex and if this is the easiest way to understand them.

You may not be sure which facts are most legally significant when you first start writing the memo. Please see also the page dedicated to legal citation.

By announcing that "the early bird catches the savings," the ad could fairly be read to mean that the supplies were not unlimited. There is no one way to write a memo, and you should feel free to experiment with other methods. This section of the memorandum should cite the relevant law accurately by name and number.

Although the requirements of writing assignments will vary depending on your organization, your supervisor and your clients, here are 10 pointers that will improve your work product. Your conclusion can convey that you are completely confident the court will rule as you predict or that, given the state of the legal authority, the outcome is really a toss-up and could go either way.

It is better to err on the side of providing too many citations than not providing enough. Because facts are useless to a reader who doesn't yet understand what the issue is.

Don't presume that your colleagues will or can translate your obscurity. Do not get side tracked by related or unrelated issues.

Preparing a legal memorandum

At the same time, bear in mind that the office memo should be a stand-alone document that can fully inform any colleague in your law office who may read it; therefore, the facts section should always contain a full and coherent recitation of the relevant facts, whether or not the principal reader of the memo already knows them unless, of course, you were instructed to do otherwise.

You may have also grappled with a seemingly contradictory assortment of facts: In this blog, you will find various approaches to legal writing that I have found to be effective. If your audience wants you to include a detailed facts section, you should do so.

C The last step is to state your conclusion on the legal issue being discussed. That's your biggest challenge. In Texas, every knowledgeable practitioner follows the Texas Rules of Form.

12) Since memo writing is predictive writing, you should try to maintain an objective and impartial tone as you recount the facts. This is not to say that you should omit facts that have an emotional impact.

Preparing a legal memorandum. A legal memorandum presents research and analysis and applies the research and analysis to particular facts. A legal memorandum follows a general structure and follows certain conventions.

The structure and conventions are discussed below, and a sample memorandum is included. Because each legal.

10 tips for better legal writing

24) As a legal writer, it helps to have an assortment of qualifiers to acknowledge how certain or uncertain you are of the actual judicial outcome. Your conclusion can convey that you are completely confident the court will rule as you predict or that, given the state of the legal authority, the outcome is really a toss-up and could go either way.

When writing a legal memo, as opposed to a legal brief, chances are that your reader will want an "objective" memo, which plainly explains the legal issue at hand and, if appropriate, analyzes the likelihood of success for a client or potential client with regard to that issue.

A typical memo includes five sections: (1) Issue, (2) Brief Answer, (3) Facts, (4) Discussion, and (5) Conclusion. This is the best way to approach learning to draft effective legal memos.

But keep in mind that, in practice, attorneys often prefer that memos do not adhere to this standard format. The Legal Memorandum Writing Process Proper research is the most important aspect of the legal writing process, and it should always be thoroughly accomplished prior to sitting down to write a .

Tips for writing a legal memorandum
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How to Write a Legal Memorandum