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

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

Legal Research Fundamentals

Primary Sources of Law

  • Statutory Law: Study Florida Statutes and how to navigate them. Understand the hierarchy of statutes, including federal and state differences.
  • Case Law: Learn to research Florida case law using the state’s district courts of appeal decisions, Florida Supreme Court decisions, and relevant federal decisions.
  • Constitutional Law: Familiarize with the U.S. Constitution and the Florida Constitution, emphasizing how to interpret and apply constitutional provisions.
  • Regulatory Law: Understand the role of federal and state agencies, and how to find regulations in the Florida Administrative Code.

Secondary Sources

  • Legal Encyclopedias: Such as Florida Jurisprudence and American Jurisprudence (AmJur).
  • Law Reviews and Journals: Importance for in-depth analysis of legal topics.
  • Treatises: Subject-specific comprehensive scholarly works.
  • Practice Guides: Step-by-step guidance on legal procedures, like the Florida Practice Series.
  • Restatements of the Law: Collection of common law principles.


  • Mastery of The Bluebook and Florida Style Manual for proper legal citations.

Legal Writing Basics

Predictive Writing

  • Memoranda: Structure, clarity, and objective analysis.

Persuasive Writing

  • Briefs: Crafting arguments, statement of facts, and legal reasoning.

Structuring Legal Documents

  • IRAC (Issue, Rule, Analysis, Conclusion) as a basic format.
  • CREAC (Conclusion, Rule, Explanation, Application, Conclusion) for more detailed analysis.

Florida-Specific Concepts and Cases

Florida Civil Procedure

  • Understand the Florida Rules of Civil Procedure for drafting motions and pleadings.

Real Property

  • Focus on homestead exemptions under Florida law.


  • Study the application of the Statute of Frauds in Florida.


  • Familiarize yourself with Florida’s comparative negligence standard.

Criminal Law

  • Review the Florida Stand Your Ground Law and its implications in case law.

Key Florida Cases

Palsgraf v. Long Island Railroad Co. (1928)

  • Issue: Whether the railroad was negligent with respect to the harm to Mrs. Palsgraf.
  • Rule: The duty of care is owed only to those who are foreseeable victims of the defendant’s conduct.
  • Analysis: The court determined that the harm to Mrs. Palsgraf was not foreseeable by the railroad employees, and as such, they did not owe her a duty of care.
  • Conclusion: The railroad was not liable for Mrs. Palsgraf’s injuries.

Gideon v. Wainwright (1963)

  • Issue: Whether the Sixth Amendment’s right to counsel in criminal cases extends to felony defendants in state courts.
  • Rule: The Sixth Amendment’s guarantee of counsel is a fundamental right essential to a fair trial.
  • Analysis: The Court ruled that the right to counsel applies to state courts via the Fourteenth Amendment.
  • Conclusion: States are required to provide counsel to indigent felony defendants.

White v. University of California (2013)

  • Issue: The right to possess Native American cultural artifacts.
  • Rule: The Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) provides procedures for the return of certain Native American cultural items.
  • Analysis: The court addressed the competing interests between researchers and Native American tribes regarding artifacts.
  • Conclusion: The university was required to repatriate the cultural artifacts to the affiliated tribe.

Legal Analysis and Critical Thinking

Identifying Issues

  • Recognizing legal issues in complex fact patterns.

Developing Arguments

  • Crafting arguments based on statutes, case law, and analogical reasoning.


  • Anticipating and rebutting potential counterarguments.

Legal Research and Writing Assignments


  • Practice drafting objective memoranda on assigned Florida legal issues.

Appellate Briefs

  • Develop persuasive appellate briefs for hypothetical Florida appellate cases.

Oral Arguments

  • Prepare and conduct oral arguments based on Florida case law.

Legal Research Exercises

  • Conduct legal research using Florida-specific databases like Florida Law Weekly and federal resources such as Westlaw and LexisNexis.

Professionalism and Ethics

Florida Bar Rules of Professional Conduct

  • Review rules concerning the ethical practice of law in Florida.

Avoiding Plagiarism

  • Understanding and applying proper attribution and citation techniques.

Confidentiality and Privilege

  • Learn the importance of client confidentiality and attorney-client privilege in the Florida legal context.

Exam Preparation

Practice Exams

  • Take practice exams focusing on Florida law to identify areas needing further study.


  • Develop course outlines to summarize key concepts and facilitate review.

Peer Study Groups

  • Collaborate with classmates to discuss and refine understanding of Florida law.

Remember, a successful legal research and writing class involves active engagement with the materials, consistent practice, and the ability to think critically and analytically about the law in a Florida context.

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