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

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

Legal Research and Writing is a foundational course in law school, designed to equip students with the skills necessary to effectively research legal issues and communicate their findings. This study guide will focus on the concepts and skills necessary for conducting legal research and drafting legal documents, with an emphasis on Hawaiian law whenever state-specific information is necessary.

Legal Research:

  1. Understanding Legal Authority:
    • Primary Authority: Constitutions, statutes, regulations, and cases.
    • Secondary Authority: Legal encyclopedias, treatises, law reviews, and restatements.
    • Mandatory vs. Persuasive Authority: Knowing the difference between binding precedents and persuasive sources.
  2. Hawaiian Legal System Overview:
    • Understand the structure of the Hawaiian government and court system.
    • Familiarity with the Hawaii Revised Statutes (HRS) for statutory law and the Hawaii Administrative Rules for regulations.
    • Knowledge of the Hawaii State Constitution.
  3. Case Law Research:
    • Using Westlaw, LexisNexis, and other legal databases to find cases.
    • Shepardizing or KeyCite to check the status of the case law.
    • Understanding headnotes and how to find cases on specific points of law.
  4. Statutory Research:
    • Navigating the HRS to find relevant statutes.
    • Researching the legislative history of Hawaiian statutes for intent and context.
  5. Administrative Law Research:
    • Locating and understanding Hawaii Administrative Rules.
    • Researching decisions and guidance from Hawaiian regulatory agencies.
  6. Research Strategies:
    • Developing a research plan.
    • Conducting keyword and Boolean searches.
    • Using legal research guides and indices.

Legal Writing:

  1. Legal Analysis and IRAC Method:
    • Issue: Identifying the legal issue(s) at hand.
    • Rule: Stating the rule or law that applies to the issue.
    • Application/Analysis: Applying the rule to the facts of the case.
    • Conclusion: Reaching a conclusion based on the application of the rule.
  2. Legal Memorandum:
    • Drafting a legal memo, including statement of facts, question presented, brief answer, analysis, and conclusion.
    • Understanding the importance of objectivity in a legal memo.
  3. Case Briefing:
    • Learning how to brief a case, including the procedural history, issue, rule, analysis, and conclusion.
    • Developing case briefing skills to aid in class preparation and understanding of legal principles.
  4. Persuasive Writing:
    • The differences between objective and persuasive writing.
    • Techniques for crafting persuasive arguments in motions and briefs.
  5. Citation:
    • Understanding the Bluebook rules for legal citation.
    • Properly citing cases, statutes, and secondary sources.
  6. Writing Process and Style:
    • The importance of clarity, precision, and conciseness in legal writing.
    • Editing and proofreading legal documents.

Case Law Examples:

IRAC Case Example 1: **Del Monte Fresh Produce (Hawaii), Inc. v. Fireman’s Fund Insurance Co., 117 Haw. 357 (Hawaii 2007)

  • Issue: Whether the insurance policy covered losses caused by an embargo on Del Monte’s bananas.
  • Rule: The interpretation of an insurance contract is a question of law that the court decides.
  • Application: The court analyzed the policy language and the circumstances surrounding the embargo. It determined that the policy language did not unequivocally cover losses caused by an embargo.
  • Conclusion: The court concluded that the insurance policy did not cover Del Monte’s losses due to the embargo.

IRAC Case Example 2: **State v. Fields, 115 Haw. 503 (2007)

  • Issue: Whether the defendant’s due process rights were violated when the trial court admitted evidence of a prior conviction.
  • Rule: Prior conviction evidence is generally not admissible to show a person’s character or propensity to commit crimes, but there are exceptions.
  • Application: The court reviewed the specific exceptions and found that the prior conviction was not directly relevant to the charged offense and its admission was more prejudicial than probative.
  • Conclusion: The court held the admission of the prior conviction violated the defendant’s due process rights, requiring a new trial.

Practice and Review:

  • Hypotheticals and Fact Patterns: Practice applying the IRAC method to hypothetical situations frequently found in exams.
  • Writing Samples: Draft legal memos and briefs on Hawaiian law topics to hone your research and writing skills.
  • Peer Review and Feedback: Engage in peer review to improve your legal writing through constructive criticism.
  • Research Quizzes: Take quizzes on Hawaiian legal research to test your knowledge of research tools and techniques.

Preparing for a law school exam requires a blend of understanding substantive law, mastering research methodologies, and perfecting legal writing techniques. This guide provides an overview of the essential components for 1L Legal Research and Writing with a Hawaiian law perspective. Students should practice these skills and review Hawaiian cases to ensure a comprehensive understanding of the law’s application in the state.

Discover more from Legal Three

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

Continue reading