Introduction and Objectives of the Course:
The purpose of this course is to teach practicing
lawyers, advanced law students and other legal professionals to organize
and write law office memoranda, client letters and emails. Students will explore
differences in writing for common law/versus civil law trained environments,
will learn the parts of a legal memorandum, will practice the basic
"IRAC" technique of legal writing, will study and practice
logical organization in legal writing, and will improve sentence and
paragraph structure in their legal writing. The course stresses the
logic of legal writing and development of legal thinking. Students will
also review conventions of written legal English, including, specifically,
completing exercises in topics such as punctuation, using active voice,
structuring sentences, organizing paragraphs, and creating logical flow
Legal Writing I is the first part of a two-part course. This course, Legal Writing Part 1, is devoted to the basics of common law, legal reasoning and analytical legal writing. But all major writing assignments are done using examples based on Russian law. The course is designed to teach the writing skills that international law firms and corporations need their lawyers to know.
The second part, Legal Writing II, taught in the next semester for those students who want to continue working on their writing, is devoted to learning legal research in the American and other common law legal systems, working more thoroughly with cases, and drafting more complex and adversarial documents. This course is perfect for lawyers who are likely to take an LL.M. degree in a common law country, arbitrate cases using foreign law, or eventually practice law in the U.S. or U.K.
Each part of the course is two units towards the LL.M. degree.
Despite much effort on our parts, we have not yet found a way to teach writing without requiring you to write! Thus, there are multiple writing assignments that you must complete to pass the class.
Legal Writing I is designed for students whose English
is at the advanced level. Those whose English is not adequate should
first take courses in Legal English.
30 in-class academic hours (24 clock hours). (The professor
spends approximately 6 hours reviewing and commenting in writing on
the written course work of each individual student.)
The book for Legal Writing is divided into three
major parts: Sources of Law, Micro-Organized Writing (writing style--sentence
structure & punctuation), and Macro-Organized writing (logical structure
and organization of specific legal documents). The second two parts
are explored in detail in Legal Writing I, while the first is touched
upon to the extend of understanding the differences in logical style
between common law and civil law trained legal professionals. The course
will skip around in the book, so that in each class students will cover
some elements of writing style and some elements of organization and
logic. The course is taught in a small group seminar, with a combination
of lecture, discussion, and oral and written exercises. Students will
spend considerable time discussing and criticizing actual examples of
legal writing produced for clients by (and reprinted by permission of)
various international law firms in Moscow. Students will be given several
short writing assignments. Approximately midway through the course,
the students will be asked to research, write and perfect a hypothetical
legal memorandum solving a client's problem within the closed universe
of the Russian Civil Code. This memorandum is expected to be 4-8 typewritten
pages, and will be revised several times based upon the professor’s
comments before being completed by the end of the course.
Text: Legal Methods, produced for the course by Professor
Marian Dent, J.D., 1988, University of California, Berkeley.