Pericles American Business and Legal Education
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Course Application

Legal Writing Level I

Call for more information 495-649-2273

Go to the term schedule to check available course dates.

Prof. Leanne Striegel introduces the course


Legal Writing I is the first part of a two-part course.  This first part is devoted to the basics of common law, legal reasoning and analytical legal writing.  The second part, taught in the next semester, is devoted to  learning legal research in the American and other common law legal systems, and drafting more complex and adversarial documents.   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.

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 and client letters. 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 between paragraphs.


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.

Course Length:

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.


Assignments should be submitted to Moodle (  Your assignment will be considered timely if the email is received before 12 noon on the day it is due.  You need to register on Moodle via the new user tab, and then join the group for your legal writing class (LW1 Summer 2011)

When sending your assignments you must put your name on the paper and also name the file with your name and a short description of the topic (eg:Lebedev-Palsgraf Case Brief.doc).   Use Microsoft Word .doc format to prepare your assignments.

On the next page is a chart of graded written assignments, their point value and the dates they are due.  (Be careful, they are not in strict chronological order.) Assignments that are 1 day or more late will be penalized.  Assignments more than 2 day late will not be accepted.  

Assignments with Checkmarks: Checkmarks next to the assignments listed below mean that these assignments are not graded but must be completed to the satisfaction of the Professors.  These assignments are designed to teach skills as you do them, rather than to evaluate your skills.  You must complete at least seven out of these nine assignments to pass the course. To learn the most, however, we suggest that you complete them all.  If your work on these assignments is not satisfactory, you may, at the option of the Professors, be permitted to redo the assignment to improve it.  Note, however, that no checkmark will be given and no opportunity to repeat will be given if an assignment is turned in late (see the late assignment policy, below).

Assignments with Points:  Assignments with points are those in which the Professors will evaluate the quality of your work in comparison to your classmates’ work and general standards of writing skills.  These are assignments where we believe you should have already learned skills and practiced through the check-marked assignments, and thus should now be graded on what you have learned.  The points available for these assignments add up to 100, but, no matter how well you do on the graded assignments, you will not pass this course unless you get both sufficient points on the graded assignments and complete at least seven of the nine check-marked assignments, as mentioned above. 


Date Due


Case Brief

2nd class


Actor’s Gallery Exercise

2nd class


Mini-Academic Article

3rd class


Citation Exercises

4th class


U.S. v. Lumumba Brief

4th class


Instructional Letter

6th class


Software exercises

6th class


Client Advice Letter




5th class



7th class



8th class


Memorandum of Law



Outline & Issue Statements

9th class



10th class



11th class


Final Exam




You may take this course either for a grade or (unless you are an LL.M. student) for credit/no credit (zachet/ne zachet).  If you are taking this course for a grade, the points for each assignment will be added up and curved at the end of the course to fit the Pericles LL.M. grading scale.  PERICLES LL.M. STUDENTS DO NOT HAVE THE OPTION OF TAKING THIS COURSE CREDIT-NO CREDIT.

If you are taking the course credit/no credit, you must satisfactorily complete the above mentioned seven check-marked assignments including the Draft Client Advice Letter and Draft Memorandum of Law, plus you must complete the Final Client Advice Letter and Final Memorandum of Law with at least 70% of the points, in order to pass the class.  Those who are taking the course credit/no credit need not complete the citation exercises, US v. Lumumba case brief or final exam unless they want to do so.

Whether you take the course for a grade or credit/no credit, you will nonetheless receive feedback on each assignment and see the points awarded you on your graded assignments.  The only difference will be what it says on your permanent record (transcript) at Pericles and on the certificate received at the end of the course—indicating either that you completed the course or that you got a particular grade in the course.  (No certificates for individual courses are given to Pericles LL.M. students but transcripts are given out after each semester.)

Late Assignment Policy

LATE ASSIGNMENTS ARE NOT ACCEPTABLE.  Be aware that completing assignments late or failing to complete assignments is the main reason that students fail this class.  Also note that the assignments are front loaded—more frequent at the beginning of the course—but that later assignments become more difficult, and thus more time consuming to complete.  Plan your study time carefully.

To reflect the importance of these two assignments, the Final Client Advice Letter and Final Memorandum of Law will be accepted late.  However, in fairness to those who struggle to get the assignments in on time, 10% of the grade will be deducted for each day of lateness, up to two days.  Thus, if you feel that your product will be a lot poorer unless you have an extra day to work on it, you should take the extra day.  But you should not delay if your intention is just to improve a little bit with extra time.  Note that even these papers will not be accepted more than 2 days late.

In all other cases, no checkmark or grade will be given if the paper is late. Therefore, even if you are sick, on a business trip, or given rush assignments at work, you should try to turn in something at the required time.  If your personal circumstances make you turn in poor work, you can always include an explanation and request an opportunity to redo it (which may or may not be granted).

Class Attendance

All students are expected to attend class.  You may miss three of the 12 class sessions without any effect on your completion. 

If you are taking the class for a grade, the fourth, fifth and sixth classes that you miss will each result in a five point reduction in your final grade.  Please note that this amount could mean the difference between passing and failing the course.  It will require excellent written work to pass the course if you have six absences. 

If you are taking the class credit/no credit, each additional class you miss after the first three will require you to complete an additional check-marked or graded assignment for credit in the course. 

Whether you are taking the class for a grade or for credit/no credit, if you miss more than six classes, you will not get credit for the course (although you are still welcome to come and sit in class and complete the assignments.)   If you decide that you are quitting the class, you must inform the professor by email to or risk getting an “F” (failing) grade.

Class Topics and Assignments

Besides the graded written assignments listed above, there are also several readings and exercises that you should complete to be prepared for class.

On the next page is a detailed schedule of topics.  Note that this a tentative plan.  If you miss a class please check with your classmates to make sure you know what you missed.

Assignments to hand in appear in boldface type.

Class Date

Topic of the Class

Homework for next class.

Class 1

Discuss administrative details, course introductory chapter, intro to legal dictionaries, civil v. common law differences, briefing a case.

Read Part III, pp 16-19.  Read Appendix 1(a). Brief Volkswagon v. Virtual Works (appendix 1(B) page 7) to hand in.  Read Part 1, Chapter 1 (pp 1-15) and be prepared to present the exercises on pages 17-18.  Complete Actors Gallery Exercise.

Class 2

Discuss exercises from Part I, pages 17-18. Review homework briefs and actors gallery in detail.  Correct use of citations and how to write an academic paper.

Skim-read Part 1, Chapters 2-4 (pp 19-76).  Write a 2-4 page mini-academic article on emailed materials.

Class 3

Sources of law in the US and how to cite them—powerpoint presentation. Review Virtual Works v. Volkswagon.  Review U.S. legal materials from appendix and case: U.S. v. Lumumba.

Read in more detail whatever you didn’t understand of Part 1 chapters 2-4 after viewing the powerpoint. Review Part III, Chapter 1. Do assigned citation exercises from Part 1 page 73-74 at home—bring a printed copy to class with you.  Read and brief U.S. v. Lumumba.

Class 4

Final review on citations.  Review how to think about judges’ arguments.  Review Part III, Ch. 1--Macro-organization, and complete “battered wife” exercises in class.    Discuss outlining. Start to discuss Part III, Ch. 2 (to be read after class—parts of memoranda, advice letters).  If there is time continue  Part III, Chapter 2   

Read Part III, Chapter 2 through page 31. Research and write an outline of the legal issues for a client letter on an assigned hypothetical case.

Class 5

Finish discussing Part III, Chapter 2.  Complete “Legal River” exercise in class. Get mini-academic articles back and Lumumba briefs back.  Discuss briefs of U.S. v. Lumumba.  Discuss outlines in class.  If there is time, start discussing punctuation and usage.

Write an instructional letter on a non-legal assigned topic.   Read Part II, Chapter 1-Punctuation.  Read Part II, Ch. 2--Eliminating Excess Words-- and be prepared to review the exercises in class.

Class 6

Discuss Part II, Chapter 1, punctuation and usage. Read and discuss instructional letters. Discuss Part II, Ch. 2--Eliminating Excess Words.  Complete exercises on Part II, pages 47-48. 

Prepare the exercises on punctuation, Part II, pages 29-30, to discuss next class. Read Part III, Chapter 7.  Do the Software Exercises and email proofFinish Draft Client Letter.

Class 7

Review punctuation exercises.  Finish any lose ends on  eliminating excess words.  Get back your first draft of your client letter.   Detailed view of  IRAC and review Part III, Chapter 7--Logically Organizing the Discussion.  Start grammar moments.  Briefly discuss memo.

Read Part III, Chapter 4, Issue Statements (before finishing your final client letter).  Find the main issues in the Memorandum topic (handed out) to discuss in class.
Finish Final Client Letter.

Class 8

Discuss Part III, Chapter 4--Issue Statements. Do the exercises on pages 65-66. Briefly discuss Memorandum issues in class.    Continue weekly grammar moments.

Research and outline your Memorandum discussion section and write the issue statement.  Read Part III, Chapter 5—Factual Analysis. 

Class 9

Review memo issues.  Discuss Part III—Chapter 5—Factual Analysis and complete exercises.  Review Part II Chapter 3—Strong Nouns and Verbs.  Continue weekly grammar moments.

 Review Part III, Chapter 5—Factual Analysis—in more detail.  Review Part II—Chapter 3 and be prepared to discuss the exercises next week. Bring in a sample paragraph from your writing in the past year.  Work on  Draft Memorandum.

Class 10

Chapter 4--Organizing within Paragraphs. Get back your client letter, graded if you haven’t received it already. Discuss Exercises in Part II, Chapter 3--Nouns and Verbs.  Discuss Part II, Chapter 4--Organizing within Paragraphs. Continue weekly grammar moment.

Complete  Draft Memorandum. Review Part III—Chapter 6—Summary Conclusion.

Class 11

Continue weekly grammar moment. Complete cut-and-paste exercises.  Start discussing Part III, Chapter 6--Summary Conclusion.

Wait for profs’ comments on draft memo and complete Final Memorandum  at a date to be assigned.  Study for final exam. 

Class 12

Get back the first draft of your memo, with markups, and discuss your paper with your professors. Review Micro-organization  and grammar generally.  Review Powerpoint exercises from the Grammar and Style Police (ie your professors) Wrap up the loose ends of the course and review for the final examination.

Study for final exam. 


Final Examination:  Based on the Draft ASWLS Writing Skills Exam


Text: Legal Methods, produced for the course by Professor Marian Dent, J.D., 1988, University of California, Berkeley.