Writing Class Notes
“At the bottom of the cream is still cream!”
Time to do some exercises! We did a rule outlining exercise last week. The rule is going to lead us to the analysis of the problem at hand in the memo.
Let’s take a look at Exercise 3 in Chapter 3. This exercise asks us to apply the rule that we worked out.
So basically, we just go through the rule and ask ourselves questions in accordance with the elements of the rule. That’s also what we do on exams. But we’ll do it a lot more succinctly on a memo than on an exam since we’ll have time to edit.
We’re going to start! Are we ready? Okay! Let’s do Exercise 2, Chapter 2. What’s the rule of the case? Then we use the outline to apply it to the problem in Exercise 2, Chapter 3.
When you’re preparing a memo, you want to change the rule into a set of questions.
Say you’re writing your analysis. You’ll do that in the kind of sounds bites that we have in this outline. When you write your analysis, the reader won’t go back to the first paragraph in order to refresh themselves about the issues.
You would say something like: “Elements three or four are met, and then the issue is whether elements A and B are met.” On office memos, we’re interested in depth and completeness.
The memo would summarize the inapplicable portions of the rule, but not have the whole thing.
Now let’s look at Exercise 4 in Chapter 3.
To read a case “instrumentally” is to read it with a particular purpose in mind.
For a lawyer writing an office memo, that purpose is to predict the answer to a specific legal question.
Therefore, a lawyer reads a contract case a little differently from the way a law student reads that same case to prepare for a contract class.
The effect of a particular case
A lawyer wants to know whether a case will help answer a particular question. Therefore, a lawyer wants to know what new information a particular case gives us.
· Did it announce a new rule?
· Did it expand the rule’s applicability?
· Did it tell us more about how the rule would apply to particular facts?