Colorado Law School 1L Study Guide for Legal Research and Writing

Colorado Law School 1L Study Guide for Legal Research and Writing

Legal Research and Writing is a foundational course in law school that helps students develop essential skills in legal analysis, research, writing, and citation. The following study guide outlines the core concepts, skills, and case law relevant to this course, with a focus on Colorado-specific sources and practices.

I. Introduction to Legal Research
A. Primary Sources of Law
– Constitutions: federal and Colorado Constitution
– Statutes: United States Code and Colorado Revised Statutes (C.R.S.)
– Case Law: United States Supreme Court, Colorado Supreme Court, Colorado Court of Appeals, and Federal Circuit Courts
– Administrative Law: federal and Colorado regulations, guidance, and administrative decisions
B. Secondary Sources of Law
– Law Reviews and Journals
– Legal Encyclopedias (e.g., Corpus Juris Secundum, American Jurisprudence)
– Treatises and Practice Guides
– ALR Annotations and Restatements of the Law

II. Legal Analysis
A. The IRAC Method: Issue, Rule, Application, Conclusion
B. Stating the Issue
C. Identifying the Applicable Rule
D. Applying the Rule to the Facts
E. Reaching a Conclusion

III. Case Briefing and Synthesis
A. Case Briefing: Summarize key components of a case using the IRAC format.
B. Fact Patterns: Recognizing and comparing analogous situations in case law.
C. Synthesis: How to integrate multiple cases to understand a legal principle.

IV. Legal Writing
A. Professional Legal Memoranda
– Structure (Question presented, Brief Answer, Statement of Facts, Discussion, Conclusion)
– Clarity, conciseness, and precision in writing
– Objective analysis
B. Persuasive Legal Writing
– Appellate brief components (Statement of the Case, Summary of Argument, Argument, Conclusion)
– Framing issues persuasively
– Use of precedent and analogical reasoning

V. Legal Citation
A. The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation
B. Colorado-Specific Citations: Understanding local practices and preferences
C. Proper Citation of Cases, Statutes, Regulations, Secondary Sources, and Electronic Sources

VI. Colorado Case Law and Application
– People v. Summitt (2004): A Colorado case regarding the interpretation of statutory language. It is a useful reference for understanding how Colorado courts approach statutory construction.
IRAC Summary:
Issue: Whether the statute in question was intended to include a specific type of conduct.
Rule: Principles of statutory interpretation in Colorado.
Application: The court looked at the language of the statute, its legislative history, and the context to determine the legislature’s intent.
Conclusion: The Colorado Supreme Court concluded that the statute did not include the conduct in question.

  • Gessler v. Smith (2018): This case is significant for its discussion on the standing in Colorado law.
    IRAC Summary:
    Issue: Whether the plaintiff had the legal standing to bring the case.
    Rule: The criteria for standing in Colorado.
    Application: The court analyzed the plaintiff’s injury, causation, and redressability.
    Conclusion: The Colorado Supreme Court found that the plaintiff did not have standing.

VII. Legal Research Tools and Resources Specific to Colorado
A. Colorado Legal Resources
– Colorado Supreme Court Library
– Colorado Bar Association resources
– LexisNexis, Westlaw, and Bloomberg Law: Colorado-specific databases
– Colorado courts’ websites for accessing opinions and dockets
B. Using Legal Research Databases
– Effective searching using keywords, Boolean logic, and filters
– Shepardizing (LexisNexis) and KeyCiting (Westlaw) to check the validity of Colorado cases

VIII. Ethical Considerations in Legal Writing and Research
A. Plagiarism and Original Work
B. Confidentiality and Duty to the Client
C. Accurate Representation of Law and Facts
D. Colorado Rules of Professional Conduct related to legal research and writing

IX. Practice Problems and Hypotheticals
– Frequent practice with hypotheticals that require students to conduct research, analyze cases, statutes, and regulations, and apply them to new fact patterns.
– Emphasis on Colorado-specific statutes and cases to provide a local context for legal issues.

X. Exam Preparation
– Review past exam questions, especially those that focus on Colorado law.
– Outline your answers and compare them to model answers or grading rubrics.
– Form study groups to discuss and analyze Colorado-specific legal issues.

This study guide should serve as a starting point for preparing for your final exams in Legal Research and Writing. It is essential to reinforce these concepts through regular practice, in-depth case analysis, and seeking feedback from your instructors. Familiarity with Colorado-specific resources and citation practices will also be crucial in performing well in both coursework and subsequent legal practice within the state.

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