Did you miss me? : • Welcome back! Recap of the Assignments from Weeks 6 & 7….SORRY if there was any confusion on this…. • For Week #6 • Read the e-mail detailing your legal memo assignment (available in DocSharing). Prepare a draft of the first four sections of the legal memo (statement of facts, questions presented, brief answers, and applicable statute). So here is what needs to be done: • Please draft a legal memorandum addressing the issues in the Attired case. Make sure that your memorandum includes all the required sections: facts, issues, brief answers, applicable statute, discussion, and conclusion. Use only the legal authority which has been provided to you: the New Mexico Unemployment Compensation statute and the three cases you briefed interpreting the statute. • You will prepare several drafts of the memorandum. In Unit 6, you will draft the Statement of Facts, Issues, and Brief Answer sections. In Units 7 & 8, you will draft and revise the discussion and conclusion sections. In Unit 9, you will combine all the sections together into a final memorandum of law. The Internal Legal Memorandum LEGAL MEMORANDUM Purpose of the Internal Legal Memorandum • Convey information about a client’s case or other matter within a law firm or other organization • Written analysis of a legal problem • Typically objective unless your supervising attorney requests a persuasive analysis • Evaluates strengths and weaknesses of the arguments of all sides of a case A legal memorandum is a document that: • Communicates the result of legal research. • Advocates and pleads for a client in court. • Legal memorandum is the medium in which a paralegal or an attorney must express the analysis of an issue and seek to persuade others on their client’s behalf. Any legal document that the paralegal writes to be signed by the attorney should be concise and clear and should conform to the objective standards that have evolved in the legal profession. A legal memorandum is structured writing that follows certain conventions. We’ll study the structure and organization of legal memoranda in the subsequent lectures. • After understanding the meaning and use of legal memoranda, let’s move on to learn about the role and responsibility of a paralegal in drafting legal memoranda. Role of a Paralegal When Drafting Legal Memoranda • • A paralegal’s role when drafting legal memoranda is that of a researcher, an analyzer of information, and an investigator. A paralegal should consider the following important points while drafting legal memoranda: The paralegal must review the case file for clues, answers to questions, and information that might assist in the preparation of any type of legal document, including legal memoranda. • The paralegal should be clearly aware of the client’s case. The paralegal should analyze the pros and cons of the case that the attorney is handling. • The paralegal is not licensed to give legal advice, and every legal document drafted by the paralegal that interprets and summarizes the law and renders legal advice or recommendations should be signed by the attorney. There are generally two types of legal memoranda: • Internal Memoranda • External Memoranda • Internal memoranda are a balanced analysis of a legal problem or issue. Examples of this type are interoffice memoranda and letters to clients. There are internal legal memoranda from paralegals to attorneys, from clerks to attorneys, and from attorneys to clerks and paralegals. A paralegal should be sensitive to the needs, level of interest, and background of the parties to whom it is addressed to be effective in this form of writing. A memorandum to a partner in the same firm might have legalese without detailing of the legalese. A letter to a client, however, should have an explanation, if legalese is used, of even the basic legal concepts to provide a legal background. • External memoranda are persuasive. Examples of this type are appellate briefs and negotiation letters written on a client’s behalf. A paralegal drafts external legal memoranda to a client, opposing counsel, or the court. One of the reasons a paralegal will draft a legal memorandum to the court is because the court has requested more legal research and analysis to provide its ruling on a previous issue, which was presented to the court by the paralegal. Such documents should persuade the audience without provoking a hostile response through disrespect or by wasting the recipient's time with unnecessary information. In presenting documents to a court or administrative agency, the paralegal should conform to the required document style. Organizing Internal Legal Memoranda • An internal legal memorandum carefully analyzes a specific legal problem that involves identifying and summarizing the relevant cases, statutes, and other sources of law. It analyzes the probable application of the legal principles to the facts of the given situation by evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of alternative courses of action. Internal legal memoranda should be objective, weighing, and exploring all sides of the issue, rather than an advocacy document, because its purpose is to explain the case and not to convince the judge. • Different law firms might have different standards for preparing internal memoranda. It is important for a paralegal to understand and follow the format used, which is chosen or formulated by the attorney, in the legal office where the paralegal works. It is however, significant that the necessary information be included while preparing the memorandum. Heading The heading of an internal legal memorandum includes: • To: The name of the person to whom it is addressed • From: The name of the person or paralegal writing the memorandum • Date: The date when the memorandum is written • Re: The client’s name, billing number, case name, and subject of the research • Issues/Questions Presented • The Issues section includes the legal issue in the case being researched. • Conclusion/Answer to the Question Presented • This section includes a short summary of the results of the research. The summary is a short answer to the legal question presented for the case being researched. The Discussion section (AKA the Analysis section) is the most important section of the memorandum. This section includes the summary of facts and the legal principles that relate to the issue in the case being researched. • Describe important facts, and be specific in providing the facts. • Illustrate the legal principles relating to the case. • Analyze the case law and statutes. • Explain the law descriptively. • Discuss both sides of the case — the strengths and weaknesses of the case being researched. • State whether the law goes against or is in favor of the case being researched. • Cite quotations from relevant case law. Conclusion • This section of the memorandum includes a conclusion of the case that is provided to convince the judge to rule for your client. The conclusion is written as "For the foregoing reasons, plaintiff's/defendant’s motion to dismiss should/should not be granted." Consider Your Audience • Your supervising attorney is busy—inform him or her clearly and concisely • Use professional tone and language • Proofread your grammar and spelling • Use plain language where possible • Avoid unnecessary wordiness Choose Your Language Carefully • Example of professional language: • Do not begin your memo like this: “For starters, let’s decide if John Doe’s parents are immune from suit.” • Instead: “The first issue is whether John Doe’s parents are immune from suit.” • Use simple and direct words and sentences. Elements of the Internal Legal Memorandum • Statement of Facts: What happened? Who is involved? When did the events occur? – Include only legally relevant facts – Do not use conclusions, legal principles, or source references – Include procedural history if applicable – Do not omit facts unfavorable to your client – First paragraph should identify your client, the legal problem, and the relief sought. Elements of the Internal Legal Memorandum • Question Presented or Legal Issue – What is the primary legal issue(s) or question(s) arising from the situation? • May use question format: “Is the contract between Mr. Smith and Mr. Jones valid under the Statute of Frauds?” • Or use “whether” format: “Whether the contract between Mr. Smith and Mr. Jones is valid under the Statute of Frauds?” Elements of the Internal Legal Memorandum • Brief Answer or Short Answer – Here, you will set out one or two sentences answers to your Question(s) Presented or Legal Issue(s) • No. The contract between Mr. Smith and Mr. Jones is not valid because the contract involved the sale of real property, and there was no writing to evidence the agreement. The Statute of Frauds requires contracts relating to the sale and purchase of real property to be in writing. Elements of the Internal Legal Memorandum • Applicable Statutes – If there are statutes that potentially apply to the fact situation, you might include a separate section where you set out all relevant statutes with proper Legal Bluebook citation. Elements of the Internal Legal Memorandum • Discussion or Analysis Section – This is the substantive portion of your legal memorandum – You will analyze the legal issues(s) as they apply to the facts of the client’s situation. – If there is more than one legal issue, you may choose to use sub-headings in order to organize your analysis. – Discuss the law as it specifically controls the legal problem(s). – Use proper Legal Bluebook citation format for all sources. Elements of the Legal Memorandum • Conclusion – You may choose to include a wrap-up paragraph tying the facts, legal issue, and analysis together in summary form. The End Checklist • Issue --Does it start with “Whether” or “Does”? • • --Is it fact specific enough? --Can one read the Issue and know the parties, the cause of action, and the basic legally significant facts leading to the cause of action? Statement of Facts --Are my facts the right length? --Can I tell from the first few sentences who and what the suit is about? --Are my facts objectively written? Statement of Facts (Cont’d) --Do I have an appropriate chronology? Are there dates for context if any are given? --Do my facts end with the procedural posture of the case? Statement of Facts (Matters of Style) • • • • Are my facts accurate? Do my facts tell a “story?” Or do they read like a list? Do my facts have varied sentence structure? Short Answer • Do I state a general rule and list the elements? • Are there Elaborations/Exceptions regarding pertinent terms? • Or am I saying the same thing over and over again? Short Answer • Am I applying my rules to my facts to reach a conclusion and a prediction regarding the litigation? Discussion • Are the synthesis paragraphs structured in a “holding, facts, rationale” fashion? • Does the analysis explain why the court reached its decision based on the specific facts of the case ? Discussion (Continued) • Does each paragraph focus on the point being made without excess facts, procedure, or dicta? • Is each new point being made preceded by an appropriate transition? Counter-Arguments • Are counterarguments and refutations addressed and organized appropriately (transition, premise, analogy made)? Grammar and Style • Do my topic/transition sentences clearly indicate to the reader what’s going on and convey a connection between what was said previously and what is coming next? Grammar and Style (Continued) • Are any paragraphs longer than 4-5 sentences? • Are my sentences too long? • How far is the main verb from the main subjects in my sentences? • Are paragraphs appropriately divided? Conclusion • Does the conclusion review the overall general rule of law and necessary elaborations? • Does the conclusion review arguments for both sides and then advise? • Does the conclusion go beyond merely a repeat of the introductory paragraphs?