WHAT A LEGAL MEMORANDUM LOOKS LIKE MEMORANDUM
TO: Recipient’s name
FROM: Author’s name
DATE: Date of Final Preparation or Due Date
RE: Brief Description of Contents
FILE: Case or file name and number
[Optional] Before the Statement of Facts, sometimes it is appropriate to include a brief introduction that explains why the writer has been asked to produce the memo or which provides some background information. This can quickly orient the reader to the memorandum’s topic. You do not need a formal title for this section. This section is neither necessary nor always warranted; use your own judgment.
Statement of Facts
Give a complete, yet clear and concise, statement of relevant facts. Include every fact that you will use in your Discussion. Do not include facts that are not relevant to your Discussion. Do not add to, or embellish, the facts you were given. Although the length varies with its complexity, the average Statement of Facts is two or three pages. These are the facts upon which the Discussion and Conclusion are based. It should include favorable and unfavorable facts since you must analyze the legal significance of each.
Questions Presented (also called Summary of the Issues)
List each separate question or issue to be answered and discussed. Each question or issue should be concise and consist of only one sentence.
Your answer should be no longer than one or two sentences, and should look something like this: No. The Baker Company is not liable for damages because Mr. McCoy’s failure to use safety equipment provided was contributory negligence.
Some legal memorandums include a list of citations for all statutes and regulations cited within the memorandum. If the statutes or regulations are brief, you may wish to include the full text of them here. If they are lengthy, simply attach copies of the full text as an exhibit to the memorandum for the reader’s reference.
This is the core of the legal memorandum. Repeat the first question presented here in the form of a statement or as a heading or subheading. Then discuss the law governing the first questions presented. Do not just write that Kirkland said blah blah blah. Tell the reader the facts of the case, the court’s holding, and the court’s reasoning. Then show the reader why the case is relevant to the question presented. Show the similarities and the differences. Remember that the reader knows nothing. Lead the reader through the memorandum in a logical progression of thought, and keep the reader with you at all times. Your Discussion will vary in length according to the number of authorities that you use. Each case should be addressed thoroughly and accurately, and must be cited properly. Here is a suggested format for authority cases:
PARAGRAPH #1 - Court’s Holding (full citation)
PARAGRAPH #2 - Facts of the Case (no citations)
PARAGRAPH #3 - Court’s Reasoning (spot cites)
PARAGRAPH #4 - Apply to One Side (no cites)
PARAGRAPH #5 - Apply to Other side (no cites)
Use transition phrases or subheading where appropriate. Do not simply launch into a new case without warning your reader that you are changing course.
Your conclusion should be brief, but complete. Sum up the arguments for both sides in a few sentences, and state your conclusion. The Conclusion should answer the Questions Presented, and touch on the major legal issues that must be resolved to reach that particular conclusion. Generally, this section will be more than one paragraph but less than a full page.
The question is about how a legal memorandum looks like and what is the standard format for it. These have been explained with an example case. All the details about the case including the name of the case, the date of filing the case, the facts about the case, the final verdict of the case, etc have been given in detail.
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