Legal Writing Class Notes 2/12/04


A visit from Lexis


How can you do research with Lexis?  Search Advisor is cheaper than some other searches.


Start out with secondary sources.  Don’t rehash some analysis that has already been done.


Research the law while focusing on the facts.  Focus on the law of the jurisdiction you’re interested in.

The initial searches focus on finding the appropriate terms of art that you’ll need to find the right cases.


Never stop with the Search Advisor!  Make sure you haven’t missed anything!


Once you find a good case, there are five ways to find more supporting authority.  You can search by headnotes, for example.


When you Shepardize a case, you want to answer the question: “Is this case citable for my reasons?”


A law firm would expect you to make sure there is no stone unturned.  Pick the smallest source you can because it will save you money.


The office memo assignment


Sheets is important.  Don’t look for statutes.  Just look at case law.  An office memo is informative, not persuasive.  You’re just trying to advise the supervising attorney of the law.  How many cases does she want us to cite?  Five or six.


You must synthesize the rule of law.  Take the synthesized rule from the various cases and then apply it to the current set of facts.


Start with an umbrella rule.  This rule very briefly explains all of the rules you’re going to discuss.  When you get to your discussion, start out with an abbreviated discussion of the components of the rule you’re going to discuss in your outline.  Then go through your outline like A, B, C.  Do the rule for each component, then the rule explanation, and then the analysis.  Then go to your second component, rule explanation, and analysis.


But the umbrella rule, if separated into three things, should synopsize the rule of law you’re about to discuss in the discussion.


What other questions?  The conclusion doesn’t need to be a long section.  What’s the difference between the “brief answer” and the “conclusion”?  The brief answer is shorter.


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