Writing advice is easy to give, but hard to follow. This is mainly due to the fact that writing requires enormous discipline. Below are six basic principles that provide structure for the writing process. They are not specific to academic writing or legal writing in particular, but can be particularly useful in a law school where writing time is a precious commodity. Over the years, these guidelines have given me the discipline to start and finish a student note alongside other academic texts. To focus both research and analysis, it`s a good idea to develop a detailed written overview of how you plan to analyze the legal issues that arise from the factual situation. The written structure is in progress. When you start researching and analyzing relevant materials, you need to revise the plan. The plan indicates where the analysis is robust (no additional research is needed) and where the analysis is weak (more research is needed). The starting points for legal research in this chapter are a research and analysis approach to a legal memorandum. The format of the memorandum is proposed in the Legal Writing Handbook. A more general approach to research is presented in The Craft of Research, but they are not the only ones. There are many ways to develop a plan, and there are many different formats for a legal memorandum.
The key is to develop design in parallel with research and analysis to focus the work. At the end of the research and analysis process, you will have a fully elaborate overview of your legal reasoning from which the memorandum can be written. Legal research follows the typical academic writing style, including an introduction, main body, and conclusion. Good structuring is important when writing legal research. This is what distinguishes a good academic writer from a generic writer. A good legal research paper format should include: However, there is a risk of always giving in to the first resistance to writing. Writing is hard work. It takes perseverance and perseverance. Force yourself to write for at least 10-15 minutes. A mentor liked to say, “Get in the chair and don`t get up.” As with exercise, the thought of writing is sometimes more painful than actual practice, and once you start, you find that it`s easier than expected. While some have a greater ability to speak than others, good writing is not natural. It comes from practice – and rewriting.
Read the statutes and cases! No digest, treaty or case summary service can be a foolproof legal research tool. In most cases, the resources described in an abstract, book or article provide only the analytical framework for a substantive or procedural problem. Without a full review of cases and a full update for new cases and laws, a lawyer in the courtroom may determine that incomplete research will snatch defeat from the jaw of victory. This chapter describes the type of search strategies that can be applied to the research and analysis of a legal problem and describes which sources to consult and in what order. It provides a framework and checklist for basic legal research. These tips should help you write standard, impressive, A-worthy legal research: put yourself in the reader`s shoes and ask yourself if the sentence/paragraph/section is really essential. Because we often think we know what our words mean, we don`t realize that our readers may not find our thoughts so crystalline. Distort your own handwriting by putting the text away, or it may be helpful to print it and proofread it in paper form.
The words are different on the page and on the computer screen. Finally, avoid the footnote fetish as a last resort for material that should be cut. It`s a cliché, but it`s true that less is often more. Do you have a legal research paper to write but no topic is in sight? Here are some legal topics worth exploring: There is no magic to good legal research. There is no one way to do this effectively. The key is simply to know the sources so that you can use them to retrieve the relevant law effectively and efficiently. The determination of “relevant” jurisprudence comes with practice. You can`t always get to the heart of every case, but you should at least try to find the leads and precedents. Everyone has a way of writing – when you`re most inclined to write and how you go about composing. Some of us are “blunders”. We write and write and write. Later, we will process and “reduce” the surplus.
We refine our ideas as we write, often repeating the same thoughts in different forms until we find the right wording. Others are “refiners” who simply write a few sentences or a paragraph, then revise and polish it to perfection before moving on. Similarly, you can have a natural rhythm when it comes to the time of day when your writing seems to flow most easily. A friend of mine prefers to write in the morning before drinking tea or coffee, using what I call the “carrot” method of motivation. While some have a greater ability to speak than others, good writing is not natural. It comes from practice – and rewriting. However, practicing patterns of good writing without it is useless. You should read other legal writers carefully, both for their analysis and for their style.
As a starting point, find sources that inspire your intellectual juice and keep adding the list over time. Read and analyze how these authors present their topic and communicate their thesis. Take a close look at their argument architecture, lexicon, and sentence structure. In short, read them both as lawyers and as writers. Emulate (but of course do not copy). In addition, you can benefit from style guides that include specific legal writing guidelines (e.g., Bryan Garner`s Legal Writing in Plain English).