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

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

Legal Research and Writing is a foundational course in law school that equips students with the skills necessary to research legal issues and communicate effectively in writing. This study guide will cover the key concepts, relevant case law, and specific practices within the context of Georgia state law.

Understanding Georgia Legal System

  • Georgia Constitution: Familiarize yourself with the structure and key provisions of the Georgia Constitution, as it is the supreme law of the state.
  • Georgia Code: Learn how to navigate the Official Code of Georgia Annotated (OCGA), which contains all current statutory laws in the state.
  • Georgia Case Law: Understand how to identify and analyze opinions from the Georgia Supreme Court and the Georgia Court of Appeals.

Legal Research Skills

  • Primary Sources: Learn to identify and use constitutions, statutes, regulations, and case law. For Georgia-specific research, this includes the OCGA, Georgia court decisions, and regulations from the Georgia Administrative Code.
  • Secondary Sources: Become proficient in using legal encyclopedias, treatises, law reviews, and practice manuals to gain a deeper understanding of legal issues.
  • Electronic Resources: Gain expertise in using online legal research databases such as Westlaw, LexisNexis, and Fastcase, with a focus on those offering Georgia-specific resources.
  • Citations: Master the Bluebook citation format for legal documents, with attention to any Georgia-specific citation rules or preferences.

Legal Analysis

  • IRAC Method: Practice the Issue, Rule, Analysis, and Conclusion method to structure legal analysis.
  • Case Briefing: Learn to extract relevant information from cases, including material facts, procedural history, legal issues, the court’s reasoning, and holdings.
  • Stare Decisis: Understand the doctrine of precedent and how it applies in Georgia courts.

Legal Writing

  • Predictive Writing: Develop skills in drafting office memoranda that predict legal outcomes based on researched law and fact patterns.
  • Persuasive Writing: Learn to write briefs and motions that advocate for a particular legal position, with emphasis on Georgia court standards and expectations.
  • Clarity and Precision: Focus on using clear and concise language, avoiding legalese, and writing in an organized and coherent manner.

Case Law Examples (Using the IRAC Format)

  1. Case: Atlanta Oculoplastic Surgery, P.C. v. Nestlehutt, 691 S.E.2d 218 (Ga. 2010).
  • Issue: Whether Georgia’s statutory cap on noneconomic damages in medical malpractice cases violates the right to trial by jury.
  • Rule: The Georgia Constitution guarantees the right to a jury trial, and juries determine the amount of damages.
  • Analysis: The Georgia Supreme Court held that the statutory cap on noneconomic damages intrudes upon the jury’s determination of damages and is, therefore, unconstitutional.
  • Conclusion: The cap on noneconomic damages was struck down.
  1. Case: Rivera v. Washington, 298 Ga. 770 (2016).
  • Issue: Whether the trial court correctly applied the law regarding the admission of similar transaction evidence in a criminal case.
  • Rule: Under Georgia law, similar transaction evidence is admissible if the state shows that the evidence is relevant to an issue other than the defendant’s character.
  • Analysis: The Georgia Supreme Court found that the trial court failed to follow the proper procedure in admitting similar transaction evidence.
  • Conclusion: The case was reversed and remanded for a new trial.

Practical Exercises

  • Draft a memorandum of law analyzing a hypothetical legal issue under Georgia law.
  • Write a persuasive brief supporting a motion to dismiss in a hypothetical Georgia civil case.
  • Construct a table of authorities for a brief, ensuring all Georgia sources are correctly cited.

Exam Preparation

  • Review past exam questions, focusing on identifying relevant legal issues and applying Georgia law.
  • Form study groups to discuss concepts and practice applying the law to hypothetical scenarios.
  • Complete practice writing assignments, with an emphasis on organization, analysis, and clarity.

This study guide provides an overview of the Legal Research and Writing skills necessary for success in a 1L Georgia law school class. Mastery of these skills will serve as a strong foundation for future legal practice in Georgia.

Discover more from Legal Three

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading