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Photo of Bryan A. Garner by Terri Glanger Throughout your career as a lawyer, you'll be judged professionally on two main things: Although the requirements of writing assignments will vary depending on your organization, your supervisor and your clients, here are 10 pointers that will improve your work product.
When given an assignment, ask plenty of questions. Read the relevant documents and take good notes. Learn all you can about the client's situation.
If you're a junior asked to write a memo or a motion but you aren't told anything about the client's actual problem, ask what it is in some detail. You must be adequately briefed—and that's partly your responsibility.
There's almost no way to write a good research memo in the abstract. As you're reading cases and examining statutes, you'll be in a much better position to apply your findings if you know the relevant specifics. Combine book research with computer research.
Look at indexes, digests and treatises to round out your understanding of the subject matter. And when it comes to computer research, don't forget Google Books especially the advanced-search function: It can open up a great variety of fresh resources in addition to what you find with Westlaw or Lexis.
A common shortcoming of green or hurried researchers, especially when a project is slightly overdue, is to turn in an interim draft in the hope of getting preliminary feedback.
That can be ruinous. What busy supervisor wants to read serial drafts? Besides, you should never turn in tentative work—it's better to be a little late than wrong. That goes for turning in projects to impatient clients as well. But keep your supervisor and, if warranted, your client updated on the status of your work.
Whether you're writing a research memo, an opinion letter or a brief, you'll need an up-front summary. That typically consists of three things: If you're drafting a motion or brief, try to state on page one the main issue and why your client should win—and put it in a way that your friends and relatives could understand.
That's your biggest challenge. If you're writing a research memo, put the question, the answer and the reason up front. Don't delay the conclusion until the end, as unthinking writers do, naively assuming that the reader will slog all the way through the memo as if it were a mystery novel.
And never open with a full-blown statement of facts—despite what you may have learned elsewhere. Because facts are useless to a reader who doesn't yet understand what the issue is. Instead, integrate a few key facts into your issue statement.
It's not enough to summarize. You must summarize in a way that every conceivable reader—not just the assigning lawyer—can understand.
So don't write your issue this way: Also, it doesn't show any mastery of the problem. You'd be better off setting up the problem in separate sentences totaling no more than 75 words: Will the Internal Revenue Service allow Goliad to claim a charitable deduction for the value of the rent-free lease?
Section f 3 of the Internal Revenue Code disallows charitable deductions for grants of partial interests in property such as leases.
Don't presume that your colleagues will or can translate your obscurity. Law school exams encourage students to use the one-hand-other-hand approach: The outcome could be this, or it could be that.
Even experienced lawyers sometimes hedge needlessly. This approach can look wishy-washy. What's wanted is your best thought about how a court will come down on an issue. Some lawyers, especially less experienced ones being encouraged to avoid legalese, end up turning blithely informal and flouting the norms of standard English, especially in email messages.
For example, they might write "u" instead of "you" and "cd" instead of "could. Even if you find yourself working for a firm where some people do these things, exercise restraint.Effective Legal Writing is an excellent basic legal writing source and includes chapters on case briefing, clear writing, basic legal analysis, and exam taking.
The Legal Writing Handbook: Analysis, Research & Writing, Fourth Edition [Laurel Currie Oates, Anne Enquist] on plombier-nemours.com *FREE* shipping on qualifying offers.
Students and professors will welcome this new edition of the only text for legal writing and research that covers all three key components of the first-year course -- research/5(7).
5. CGOS Style – Columbia Guide to Online Style. A specialized style guide for citing and creating electronic sources. It is a a special manual that addresses the complications and peculiarities associated with online publishing and offers the rules of online citation to students, researchers and the wide public.
Legal Writing and Research Manual [John A. Yogis, I. M. Christie] on plombier-nemours.com *FREE* shipping on qualifying offers. Book by Yogis, John A., Christie, I. M. 1. Sources of Legal Materials in USA Statutes and Regulations in the USA The U.S.
Government publishes each statute enacted by the U.S. Congress in U.S. Statutes at Large. Except for doing historical research, a more convenient way to access federal statutes is to use the U.S. Code, which groups the original statute and all subsequent amendments together in one place.
Legal writing and research manual John Yogis, John A. Yogis, Innis M. Christie, Michael Iosipescu Snippet view - John A. Yogis, Innis M.
Christie, Michael Iosipescu, Michael Eugene Deturbide Snippet view -