• School of Law

  • LRW Research Memos

    Expectations and Information

    The best source of information about the research memo assignment is always your Legal Writing instructor and the detailed instructions for the assignment that you received in class. Your instructor may have special requirements or expectations in addition to any identified below. However, these are the general expectations for a research memo:

    Format

    The research memo should include sections for Question(s) Presented, Brief Answers, and Facts. The body of the memo should include an introduction, discussion of the issue(s), and a conclusion. The introduction should establish a "roadmap" for the rest of the memo. Your discussion of the issues should follow a CRAC/IRAC format. You should state the rules objectively and identify the facts and arguments available to both parties, as well as any relevant policy arguments. Your conclusion should restate which party has the stronger arguments and briefly summarize your analysis. It is not important that you choose the "right" side, so long as your reasoning and analysis support your conclusion.

    Tone

    The research memo should be written objectively. This means that you are not advocating for either party. Your analysis should discuss how the court probably would decide, not how it should.

    Research and Citation

    The research memo is your first opportunity to use your research skills extensively. You should find any statutes which deal with the issue(s), and any cases interpreting them. Probably you will not use every case that you find. Instead, you should choose those cases which state the rules most clearly or whose facts are similar in important ways to those involved in the problem. You should also demonstrate that you understand when to cite and how to format both full citations and short cites in your instructor's preferred style.

    Samples

    Your instructor may provide you with previous students' work as an example of how your memo should be structured. The Reserves desk in the library also has samples of past legal writing assignments that you may examine.

    Please contact Mary Trevor (mtrevor@gw.hamline.edu) for more information about this project.