By Ben. L. Fernandez
Core Legal Skills Handbook - Legal Research and Writing covers all the topics and issues typically taught in a first year legal writing class. The book, takes each issue one step at a time, with each step building on the one before it. It explains the analogical reasoning (analogizing and distinguishing cases) in detail. It also includes a lot of examples, exercises and sample answers.
The first chapter is on sources of law. In that chapter the mnemonic: “Four Sources to Consider,” is introduced, which stands for 4 Sources (local law, state law, federal law, and international law), 4 Types of state and federal laws (constitution, statutes and regs, cases and executive orders) and 4 levels of Courts (local courts, trial courts, appellate courts and a court of last resort).
The second chapter covers legal research and explains how to search a compilation of statutes or a case digest using the table of contents and index or a computer word search. In the author’s opinion, the choice isn't between doing paper research or computer research. Even if you are searching on a computer, you can still use the table of contents and index.
The chapter on reading and briefing cases, explains why cases need to be briefed. The elements of a brief are the parts of a case that students use to analogize it to or distinguish it from a fact pattern. Also, even though students are taught with the case method, case opinions are not necessarily written for that purpose. So they often need to be paraphrased or translated into the elements of a case brief.
There is a separate chapter on analogical reasoning and applying a case rule to a fact pattern. It is the author’s experience that students need extra help with that area. If they don’t do this well, their analyses are usually superficial. Therefore, extra time is spent on analogical reasoning.
There is another mnemonic in the chapter on analyzing statutes and determining statutory formulae. "Every Cool Dude Can Rock," which stands for determine the Elements of the statute, pay particular attention the Connectors joining them, locate Defined terms and insert the definitions into the rule, do the same for Cross references to other sections of the statute, and don't forget to all check any Regulations.
The chapter on citation covers how to cite cases and statutes, as well as block quotes, signals and the use of parentheticals. In the author’s experience those are the most important things students must get exactly right every time. The book also provides references to a number of free citation resources available online that are at least as authoritative, if not more authoritative, than the Blue Book.
The chapter after citation is on IRAC and IREAC. As useful as those forms are they don't give students any guidance on how to explain and apply a case rule when it is necessary to analogize or distinguish the case from a fact pattern. The book’s solution is another mnemonic: "Ferrari Has Really Cool Race Cars," which stands for this: explain the case by stating the relevant Facts, the Holding for the case, and the Reasoning for the decision. Then apply the rule by Comparing the facts of the case to the facts of the fact pattern, applying the Reasoning (or stating it doesn't apply) and coming to a Conclusion.
The large scale organization of a legal memorandum is covered by a legal memorandum on how to write a legal memorandum, followed by an example of an actual memorandum. The important thing to understand about a legal memo is that it should stand on its own. Among other things, the person it is written for may provide it to someone else; and it may travel around the firm and end up being read by people the original author was unaware of.
Finally, the book has two additional chapters on persuasive writing: one on drafting a trial memorandum and arguing the memorandum in a court motion session; and the other on drafting an appellate brief and arguing the brief in oral argument.
July 2020, EBOOK, 237 pages