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Legal Writing

This guide assists first-year law students with the CREAC format used in legal writing.

Memorandum of Law Structure

MEMORANDUM

TO:

FROM:

DATE:

SUBJECT:


QUESTION PRESENTED

~ start the question with one of the following words: whether, is, does, can, did, or under

~ precisely state the legal issue raised by the determinative facts

~ include enough key, determinative facts to give context to the question

 

BRIEF ANSWER

~ start with a very short statement of your conclusion about the issue (No, Probably No, Yes, Probably Yes)

~ concisely and precisely answer the Question Presented in the first sentence of the BA

~ state the black-letter rule of law applicable to the issue in a sentence or two

~ briefly apply the rule to the key, determinative facts (a summary of the larger application from the Discussion)

 

STATEMENT OF FACTS

~ begin with a sentence or two laying out the client's core legal issue and introducing the other key characters

~ include the legally significant facts that a court would use in analyzing and applying the rule to the instant case

~ include essential background facts that are necessary for following the narrative of the instant case

~ present the facts accurately and chronologically (or topically if the facts do not lend themselves to chronology)

~ end with a sentence or two bringing the reader up-to-speed about the instant case's procedural posture

 

DISCUSSION

I.          OVERARCHING CONCLUSION

~ precisely and concisely state the likelihood of the outcome

~ precisely and concisely answer the legal question and acknowledge the governing law

~ include a because statement that precisely and concisely explains the reasons for the outcome (how the determinative facts trigger the rule)

 Overarching Rule

~ begin with a conclusion sentence that applies the relevant parts of the rule to the determinative facts of the instant case

~ start broad and with each sentence funnel down to the most narrow part of the rule to be analyzed (observe proper hierarchy of authority)

~ include a purpose statement that follows the funneled part of the rule and clearly and concisely explains the reason for the rule's existence and/or its policy considerations

~ include a dismissal sentence(s) (if applicable) that clearly and concisely dismisses the discussion and application of obvious, uncontroversial, or uncontested elements of a governing rule

~ conclude with a Roadmap sentence that mirrors the substance of the conclusion sentence but gives more explanation of the determinative facts that trigger the rule

 

A-Nested-CREAC: Conclusion sentence specific to the first element

     Rule specific to the first element

       Explanation of rule governing first element

~ illustrate cases with binding-effect that have a good number of facts that are analogous to or importantly distinguishable from the facts of the instant case

~ begin with a thesis sentence that clearly and concisely states the legal principle of law that the subsequent case illustrates

~ include all relevant facts that support the thesis statement and the court's reasoning, and state them clearly, concisely, and accurately

~ clearly, concisely, and accurately state each court's holding as to the issue or question presented

~ clearly, concisely, and accurately state each court's reasoning as to the determinative facts that informed the holding

       Application of rule to facts for first element (and possible counter-analysis) 
~ begin with a conclusion sentence that effectively sets up the point of the analysis 
 
~ follow the conclusion with an Explanatory sentence that effectively sets up the forthcoming fact-to-fact comparison between the instant case and precedent case(s) by stating how the relevant language from the rule applies similarly or distinctively in both cases
 
~ include fact-to-fact comparisons that explain how the key, determinative facts from the instant case and precedent case(s) are the same or importantly different
 
~ acknowledge the holding of the precedent case in the fact-to-fact comparisons
 
~ conclude with a thus/therefore statement that acknowledges the precedent case(s) and explains the predictive holding in a because statement that reiterates the analogous and/or distinctive facts
       
     Conclusion for first element
 
B-Nested-CREAC: Conclusion sentence specific to the second element
       Rule specific to the second element
       Explanation of rule governing second element
       Application of rule to facts for second element (and possible counter-analysis)
       Conclusion for second element
 
C-Nested-CREAC: Conclusion sentence specific to the third element
       Rule specific to the third element
       Explanation of rule governing third element
       Application of rule to facts for second element (and possible counter-analysis)
       Conclusion for second element
 
CONCLUSION
~ concisely and precisely answer the client's question in the first sentence
~ explain the answer precisely and concisely but avoid an unnecessary retread of the longer application from the Discussion
~ finish with a thus/therefore statement that precisely and concisely states the implication of the answer to the client's question