How to Write a Legal Memorandum for Dummies
Wondering how to write a legal memorandum for dummies? You just need to follow a few steps and include certain sections to produce this content.3 min read
Updated August 11, 2020:
About the Writing Process for a Legal Memorandum
How the memorandum is structured depends on certain factors, including:
- The purpose of the memorandum
- The reader's needs
- The nature of the situation or problem
- Legal findings
- Subject logic
- The range of research
- A standard approach
Writing a legal memorandum relies on proper research. You must research thoroughly and carefully before you're ready to write a memorandum. When laying out the format for a legal memorandum, note that the following sections should be included:
- A statement of the legal issue
- An answer to the legal issue
- A statement of the facts
The next step in creating the memorandum is deciding on a logical pattern of readability. This means writing the research in a way that's easily comprehended and digested. The memorandum should be clear so the reader understands the case and the laws that affect it.
Include in the heading the author's identity, the recipient of the memorandum, the date, who the client is, and the subject. Use a numbering sequence in the heading; there will most likely be multiple legal memorandums attached to the case.
Include a brief statement. Begin by answering with a "yes" or "no" and follow with a clear and concise explanation for why you gave the particular answer. Include any facts for support.
Table of Contents
It's helpful to make a table of contents for the reader. A breakdown of the approach, structure, and analysis allows the reader to find specific parts of the memorandum quickly and easily.
Statement of Facts
This statement section covers the presentation of the client's information in an objective manner. The facts section covers the relevant facts you used to prepare and research the memorandum. Listing the client information and the facts means the reader will be accessing the same information you did. This will prevent any confusion.
If applicable, use a diagram, chart, or table to summarize and outline the relevant facts.
Write the information in chronological order if applicable. In some situations, a different order may work better. Use whatever order makes the information clear and logical. If any facts used pose a disagreement or hint of uncertainty, state this, and explain both sides. When laying out the format, you can place the facts before or after the issues section.
Answer all questions completely and directly. Don't be indirect, inconclusive, or indecisive. Base your answers on a reason that's legally supported. Don't use phrases such as "it seems that" or "it would appear that." This is an equivocal language.
If relevant questions go unanswered, you may be in a position where assumptions must be made. A separate section can be created in this case, or the questions can be included in the statement of facts section. If you choose the second option, rename the "Statement of Facts" to "Facts and Assumptions."
This section is a brief one-sentence statement. It should define the legal question and include a few facts. Keep it descriptive and concise for more effect. For multiple issues, list them in the order they'll be discussed.
The most important issue should be the lead-in. It must be written in a simple, precise, brief, and articulate manner. List all issues and their related sub-issues in a logical, numbered order.
There are two ways to discuss legal issues. The general format is Issue/Rule/Analysis/Conclusion (I.R.A.C). The second option is Conclusion/Issue/Rule/Analysis/Conclusion (C.I.R.A.C). The second option has become the preferred format since it's clearer for the reader to follow.
The discussion section is vital as it describes the law and its application to the case. This section should include a minimum of one strategy as well as the pros and cons of using that strategy.
You can include a conclusion with the statement of facts section or create a conclusion at the end that's a summary of the memorandum. It should also include a brief outline of the legal analysis.
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