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How to Write a Law Research Paper

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Legal & Law . Research Paper
How to Write a Legal Academic Paper

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Read more of them, and read the ones you have read over again. Only occasionally do students do anywhere close to the amount of research in the case law that is required for a good paper, however, where the law is — not in the law review articles, not in the treatises, not in the trade publication, not in the ALR annotations, but in the cases and other primary material statutes, treaties, constitutions.

Secondary sources can be helpful — they can point you to the cases that you need to read, or, on rare occasions, they can help you to understand the cases you have read. They are, by far, the best models for the kind of writing that you are learning how to do.

You read opinions so that you can start to soak up a way of talking about legal questions — a jargon, customary phrasings, ways of using and talking about precedent, and the like.

I have, therefore, no clear idea what this sentence means. Neither is a good thing to communicate to your readers. Third, you need to read lots of opinions because to be a good writer you must learn to be a good reader. Writing involves reading what you have written, identifying its weaknesses, and revising to eliminate those weaknesses. Over and over and over again.

What question s are the court answering? How persuasive is their reasoning? And finally , you need to read lots of opinions to find models for the kind of writing you want to learn how to do.

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. When you read an opinion or any piece of persuasive writing, for that matter — anything that works through an argument and reaches some conclusion that you think is well-written, well-organized, and effective, ask yourself: How is it organized?

Is there an introduction, and what functions does it serve? How does the author manage the transitions between sections? How does the author let the reader know the overall plan of the work? When does the author summarize what has come before?

Writing is a craft; find others who perform it well, observe their methods, and try to emulate them. Legal documents are persuasive documents; they answer some question, and they persuade the reader that the answer is the correct one. The goal, ultimately, is to state a specific question or set of questions , to provide the reader with an answer to that question s , accompanied by a logical argument designed to persuade the reader that the answer you have come up with is the correct one.

All legal writing, I believe, is like this: All are designed to persuade the reader of something by the force of argument s. Much legal writing is straightforward, in the sense that you know precisely where you are going when you start.

When writing a brief, for example, you know where your argument has to lead: Knowing exactly where you want to go, you can then work backwards from there to put together your argument.

But with a research paper, you may start out with some thesis — e. The purpose of writing. You have to do two things when you are undertaking a legal writing project. First, you have to figure out the answer to whatever question you trying to answer: Does section c of the Copyright Act cover dissemination of decryption software?

Are the purposes underlying the Patent Act furthered by Internet business method patents? Are clickwrap licenses enforceable under the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act? The second job, which you can only accomplish after you have accomplished the first, is to write your paper in such a way that you persuade the reader that the your answer is the correct one.

In the best of all possible worlds, you would write two papers: The first would be the one you need to write in order to figure out the answer to your question. The second paper is the one that communicates what you have to say to your readers. Most of you will not, actually, write two separate papers; but you need to think about your project as if you were going to do so.

The only way for most of us mortals to construct a complicated, many-layered argument is to write it down to see whether it makes sense. Once you have figured out where you are going — once you have written something that enables you to see the answer to the question that you have posed for yourself — you need to walk the reader through your argument as effortlessly and painlessly as possible.

Another way to say this: When you begin, you are writing for you , to help you understand what is going on. As you near the end, you write for your reader. Narrow it down to a discrete issue. Then, focus in on a few three or four should do major works by respected thinkers in a given area of law. Who are these scholars? Ask the professors here at YLS—who are usually among those respected thinkers themselves. The professors here will suggest both historically important sources to know and the most recent cutting-edge work.

Secondly, rather than try and generate an original idea on your topic, see if you can summarize in written form the views of two current, opposing authorities in your appropriately narrow field of interest. Or perhaps a given view seems to miss something important.

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Basically, you are "issuing a legal opinion." The other type of legal writing is the regular term paper type. The following information is a crash course in legal citation. If you intend to cite a case in any legal research paper, you should know how to "Shephardize" a case.

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ability in “Legal Research and Writing” (LRW) courses.2 English majors may assume LRW will be the easy course in the curricu- lum while engineers may fear writing papers for the first time in.

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3. Describe what your paper will contribute to the discussion (state your thesis); 4. Provide a road map to your paper; and 5. State your conclusion. The introduction/précis must also be cited. Professor Mike Blumm describes an approach to writing an introduction that I think is worth considering. “Good writing is like a windowpane.” [George Orwell] The point of legal writing is not to make the simple complicated – for example, by using lots of impenetrable phrases, long sentences, and big words. The point of legal writing is to make the complicated simple. Think about it. Do not be afraid of simplicity.

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Legal research papers or legal research is the process of bringing into light the information essential to carry out legal decision-making. Legal research paper consists of different steps in the analysis of facts of the situation and summing up the whole investigation of the problem through research work. Identify the goal of the paper: there are two types of research paper: an argumentative research paper or an analytic research paper. An argumentative research paper takes a position on a contentious issue and argues for one point of view.