Thursday, November 12, 2009

Legal Writing Syllabus, 2nd Semester 2009

Course Description

An introduction to legal writing techniques. It involves applied legal bibliography, case digesting and reporting analysis, legal reasoning and preparation of legal opinions or memoranda.

Course Objectives

At the end of the course –

1. The student must be familiar with the nature of legal writing and know the principal rules of good legal writing.

2. The student must be aware of the most common examples of legal writing, and has had experience in case digesting, preparation of replies to queries, and preparation of research memoranda.

3. The student must be familiar with basic techniques to improve his or her legal writing skills.

4. The student must know basic aspects of legal bibliography and can apply them.

5. The student must be aware of the importance of reasoning, and reasoning techniques, to legal writing, and must be familiar with those techniques.

6. The student must know how to answer legal questions and can build an argument.

7. The student must know how to produce a good research memorandum.

NOTE: The course will not cover contract drafting or legal writing. You will be taking a separate course on legal research and citation, although we will look into their role and importance in the legal writing process.

Requirements and Basis of Grades

i. Class attendance and participation
ii. Legal bibliography report and test
iii. Submission of writing exercises
iv. Submission of research paper

Reading Materials

We will not have a prescribed textbook but you may consult the books on legal bibliography in the law school library, particularly Legal Research and Bibliography by Peter Ng et al. From time to time, you will be required to look at particular laws and jurisprudence, copies of which should also be available at the library. You should already read the laws and cases identified in the course outline.

Course Outline

I. Introduction to Legal Writing

1. Writing as a skill required of every lawyer.
2. The “Inescapability” of English
- E.O. No. 292, as amended, Secs. 17 and 20
3. What makes writing “legal”?
4. What are the kinds/examples of legal writing?
5. What are the roles of legal bibliography and legal research in the writing process?
6. What makes legal writing, good? What makes it bad?
- Leonor v. Court of Appeals, 256 SCRA 69 (1996)
7. How do you prepare to be a good writer?

II. Legal Bibliography: An Overview

1. What is legal bibliography?
2. Key principles of legal bibliography
3. Kinds of primary authorities
· Statute law
a. Classes of statute law
b. Effectivity of statutes
- Civil Code, Art. 2
- E.O. No. 292, as amended, Sec 18
- Tanada v. Tuvera, 146 SCRA 446 (1986)
c. Prospectivity
- E.O. No. 292, as amended, Sec 19.
d. Lapse of laws
- Civil Code, Art. 7
-E.O. No. 292, as amended, Secs. 21 and 22
e. Public versus Private
f. General versus Special
g. National or General versus Local
h. Conventional versus Subordinate
i. Parts of a statute
· Case law
a. Civil Code, Art. 8
b. Parts of a Case
- Allied Banking Corp. v. Court of Appeals, 416 SCRA 65 (2003)
c. Impact of decided cases
- Res judicata
- Stare decisis
- "Law of the Case"
d. Ratio decidendi versus Obiter dictum
5. Kinds of secondary authorities
6. In general: citation

III. Legal Research Techniques

1. What is legal research?
2. In general: How to prepare for a research assignment
3. What if there is no law?

IV. Core of Legal Writing

1. Reasoning
2. Learning how to “read closely”
3. A Law Student's Version of the Four-Way Test
- Do you know or understand all the relevant facts?
- Do I know what the issue to be resolved, or what the problem or question is?
- Do I know what laws or materials might be relevant to the inquiry and have I read all those laws and materials closely?
- Do I know the work product (form, audience) and my deadline?
4. Building an argument
- What is an argument?
- Outlining your reasons as a tool to analyze the problem
- Synthesis
- Counter-arguments
--- Evaluating and verifying arguments with the rules of logic

V. Legal Writing Techniques

1. Techniques for effective legal writing
2. (Possibly) The Only Outline Format You Will Ever Need

VI. Ethics of Legal Writing

1. Code of Professional Responsibility, Rule 8.01, Rule 10.01, Rule 10.02, Canon 11, Rule 11.03
2. Plagiarism

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