Legal Writing Class Notes 1/15/04


We will start with something Verdun saw as a problem for students writing their first office memos.  We’ll start with Chapter 14 and look at where we’re supposed to place citations.




When do we need to put in citations?  You need to cite something when it is a legal principle that you take out of a case or statute.  If you’re describing a rule of law, then you want to cite where you got it from.  If you’re referring to an opinion of a court, you’ll always want to cite it.  Quotes lend credibility to your argument.


There are different ways to cite in a memo.  We want it to be smooth.  But it’s not an exact science.


Check out some examples of citations:


Watzek v. Walker, 485 P.2d 3, 6 (Ariz.Ct.App. 1971).

11 U.S.C. § 523 (1994).

Richard H. Chused, A Property Anthology 149 (2d ed., Anderson 1997).

Murray M. Schwartz, The Exercise of Supervisory Power By the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, 27 Vill.L.Rev. 506, 508 (1982).


How do you use citations in a way that doesn’t intrude upon your writing?  String cites are bad!


Rules of law


How do we formulate the rule of law?  We want to break down a rule of law into components in order to test it against our fact pattern bit by bit.


There are certain common rule structures:


1.     Conjunctive (“and”) test

2.     Disjunctive (“or”) test

3.     Factors test

4.     Balancing test

5.     Rule with exceptions

6.     Rule with no subparts


All the elements in a conjunctive rule are mandatory.


For example:


To prove a burglary, the state must prove all of the following elements:


·        Breaking

·        Entering

·        A dwelling

·        Of another

·        In the nighttime

·        With the intent to commit a felony therein


This helps you outline your actual memo.


Think about the organization of the rule to help you outline the rule so that you can outline your memo.


Look for structural buzzwords!  Read rules carefully and read every word and phrase!


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