Summer is here, bringing the opportunity to take your legal writing skills from school to the workplace. Whether you’re working for a judge, a government agency, a public interest legal provider, or a private practice law firm, you’ll be writing this summer. In your legal writing course, you probably wrote at least one memo and one trial or appellate brief. The purpose of any legal writing course is to prepare you for practice, so you can expect to receive similar assignments over the summer. If you work in Biglaw, memos are inevitable. At smaller firms or public agencies, you might see trial briefs as well. It’s unlikely that any employer will entrust an appellate brief to a summer associate, but you never know. In addition to these familiar documents, you may be assigned tasks you haven’t done before, like pleadings, discovery requests (or responses) or jury instructions. Don’t panic! Follow these tips: [Read more…] about Tips for Legal Writing at Your Summer Job
In a recent post, I set out an approach to constructing policy arguments. I referred to an outline that included policy arguments; this idea generated interest, so I’ll expand on it here. [Read more…] about Follow Up: Policy Arguments in Outlines
Working with students this semester, I’ve noticed a pattern: strong outlines but weak practice exam answers. An exam answer may miss an issue, fail to state the applicable rule, or state a rule incorrectly, perhaps by missing elements or exceptions. I review the student’s outline and find the rule in all its complete, precisely phrased glory. What’s going on? Why is there so often a disconnect between the outline and the exam answer? After all, the purpose of the outline is to help you study for exams and, ultimately, to answer questions effectively. Here are some tips for using your outline to prepare for exams – even if you haven’t finished your outlines yet. [Read more…] about How to Move From Outline to Exam Answer
I’m a fan of IRAC, or even better, CRAC, for several reasons. First, it saves times on exams. If you follow this go-to structure, you don’t have to waste time thinking about how to organize your answer, so you can spend more time working on the analysis.
Second, IRAC represents the fundamental components of legal analysis. Every case involves the identification of issues and the application of legal rules to facts to reach a resolution.
Finally, CRAC is preferable to IRAC because it encourages you to reach a conclusion before you start writing, rather than rambling your way toward a conclusion as you write. (Of course, you should reach a conclusion during the outlining stage.) Some professors prefer CRAC because it lets them know where you’re headed before you get there. This makes grading easier. [Read more…] about Help! My Professor Said Not to IRAC
Policy arguments make many law students uncomfortable. You may panic when you’re expected to argue policy in an exam answer or legal writing assignment. Why is this, and how can you overcome it? The connection between rules and policy is both the cause of this discomfort and the solution to it.
Law school teaches you to think like a lawyer. One aspect of this process involves identifying legal rules and applying them to novel fact patterns. Law students become comfortable working with rules, even as they realize that the simplest sounding rule can be surprisingly complex and ambiguous when applied. Compared with legal rules, whether statutory or common law, policy arguments seem fuzzy and insubstantial. When asked to argue policy, students are afraid they’re simply making things up. But a good policy argument must have a solid legal basis. [Read more…] about How to Construct a Policy Argument
We’ve recently discussed the shift from objective to persuasive writing, focusing on drafting persuasive legal arguments. Your approach to the facts will change from objective to persuasive as well. How can facts, which are seemingly objective, be presented persuasively? [Read more…] about From Objective to Persuasive Writing, Part 2: Facts