The Legal Profession and Professionalism: Legal Writing and Analysis Margaret Hall (firstname.lastname@example.org) Michael Begg (email@example.com) Pooja Parmar (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Forms of legal writing • The memorandum • The opinion letter • The factum A certain degree of formality is required in all legal writing: avoid slang, contractions, and “folksiness” in your writing
Structure of a Legal Memorandum (“IRAC”) • Facts • Issues (questions) • Brief Answer (answer questions) • Statement of relevant law(s)/rule(s) • Application of law to facts/Discussion • Conclusion • A flexible formula, not an “ironclad mold” in which to fit your analysis
Facts and Issues • Facts • Include facts relevant to the legal issues and rules • State assumptions you are making • Describe any relevant gaps in information • Issues • If the issues are complex, break into sub-issues • Stating issue as a question is effective
Brief Answer and Law/Rule • Brief answer • Concise • Answer question posed as issue • Law/rule • Concise • Cite to authority
Application of the law to the facts • Address issues in order • Use headings for clarity of structure • Quote effectively • Consider arguments and their relative strength • Consider analogies if no law on point
Application: Discussing case law • avoid spilling out an “undigested mass of case law” in your discussion. • How much detail do you give for each authority cited? • sufficient details to make it meaningful to your reader • why are you citing a particular authority? Is it a case with similar facts? Is it a binding authority? Does it contain a persuasive judgement? Do you want to distinguish this case from yours? Tell your reader!
Conclusion • Use mini-conclusions for each issue in your application • The conclusion should then summarize those mini-conclusions and tie them together • Include the gray areas; avoid misleading your reader • It should not include new materials or arguments, but can include recommendations and possible courses of action
Opinion Letters • The audience will vary much more than with a legal memorandum • Summarise complex legal principles and put them into language your reader will understand • State the purpose of the letter and give concrete advice
The Factum • Main focus to persuade (in contrast to the memo and opinion letter, the purpose of which is to provide objective information) • Strict rules govern both the format of factums
Post-Writing Tips • Check for coherence and unity • Editing • Grammar: e.g. subject-verb, run-on sentences, dangling modifiers • Plain English (active voice) • Gender neutral language • Precision and conciseness • Paragraphs, sentences, words • Proofreading • typos, spelling mistakes
Revise, Revise, Revise • Take a break • Have you answered the questions? • Revise some more • Hand it in!