Legal Writing Class Notes 2/5/04


Okay!  For today, on our syllabus, we’re doing the assignment for 1/29, not 2/5.  We’ll look at rule explanation and then rule application.  These are the meatiest parts of the office memo.  You ask yourself a question, figure out what the rule is from a case, explain the rule, and analyze the rule.  We have a single-issue problem, so we won’t have to deal with the kind of outlining that’s in the book.


So what we’ll do today, we’ll do what we were going to do next time.


Next week, we’ll talk about the status of our research.  We should all have the cases before we do the final memo.  Next week, she’ll bring in someone from Lexis-Nexis.  She’ll have the problem and she’ll discuss how to research it.  Between now and two weeks from now, we’ll need to have the working draft of our office memo.  Then we’ll have individual conferences the following week to go over those drafts.


Explaining the rule


Assume we’ve read Chapter 7 and that we’re ready to work on what we read.  We have a rule explanation in the book.  Throughout the rule explanation, the writer wants the reader to understand the key components of the rule.  While you explain the rule, you do not talk about the case at hand.  This is different than what we do on law school exams.  We state the rule, but we don’t explain it on the exam.  We go immediately into the analysis.  It is assumed that our understanding of the rule will come out in our analysis.


Let’s look at the exercises!  One exercise is an outline of the rule explanation.  First we outline the rule.  Then we provide a description of the rule.  That’s where the outline comes in.  If we have a good rule outline, then we know what we need to use in order to explain the rule to the reader.  The attorney needs to know the rule of law.


Don’t write an explanation together in our groups.  Instead, decide what should be included in the explanation of the rule of Lucy v. Zimmer given the facts of the Ryan v. Kaplan case.


Analyzing the problem


We will use our rule explanation and outline as the foundation.  So we have a rule in our example.  We start out with the rule in general, then we fill it in which stuff specific to the case at hand.  The analysis comes from comparing the facts of the case at hand with the facts in the case the rule comes from.  You reason by analogy.


So let’s do the similarities and differences between the Kane hypo and the Berry case.  Compare the facts!  See what’s the same and what’s different!


This is a learn-by-doing kind of thing!


Now we’re going to get ready to write a memo.


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