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

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

Introduction to Legal Research and Writing

Legal research and writing are fundamental skills for any law student and practicing attorney. This study guide will provide you with the essential building blocks to understand Idaho-specific law and the general principles of legal analysis.

Legal Research

Primary vs. Secondary Sources

Primary Sources:

  • Statutes and Legislation: Idaho Code, session laws, and bills.
  • Case Law: Opinions from the Idaho Supreme Court and the Idaho Court of Appeals.
  • Administrative Law: Regulations from Idaho Administrative Code and decisions from administrative agencies.
  • Constitutional Provisions: Both the U.S. Constitution and the Idaho State Constitution.

Secondary Sources:

  • Law reviews, treatises, legal encyclopedias, and restatements.

Idaho Legal Research Resources

  • State Statutes: Idaho Legislature website (
  • Case Law: Idaho Supreme Court Data Repository (
  • Administrative Rules: Idaho Administrative Code (
  • Secondary Sources: University of Idaho College of Law Library


Understanding Bluebook citation format is critical for legal writing. Familiarize yourself with how to cite Idaho sources properly.

Legal Writing

IRAC Method

The IRAC method (Issue, Rule, Application, and Conclusion) is a common framework for legal analysis.

Idaho-Specific Writing Conventions

Understand any Idaho-specific grammar, citation, or formatting rules that might differ from the general legal writing standards.

Legal Analysis

Understanding the Law

Grasp the hierarchy of the law (U.S. Constitution, federal statutes, state constitutes, etc.) and how to find the relevant law for a particular issue.

Synthesizing Case Law

Learn to read and brief cases, identifying the key facts, legal issue, holding, and rationale. Know how to synthesize the principles from multiple cases.

Cases and Applicable Law

Marbury v. Madison, 5 U.S. (1 Cranch) 137 (1803)

Issue: Does the Supreme Court have the authority to issue writs of mandamus?

Rule: The Constitution is the supreme law of the land, and it is the judiciary’s role to interpret what the law is.

Application: Although Marbury had a right to his commission, the Court could not grant a remedy because the section of the Judiciary Act of 1789 that enabled Marbury to bring his claim to the Supreme Court was unconstitutional.

Conclusion: Established the principle of judicial review.

Idaho v. Coeur d’Alene Tribe of Idaho, 521 U.S. 261 (1997)

Issue: Did the Tribe have authority to assert sovereign immunity from the state’s lawsuit to determine title to lands submerged beneath Lake Coeur d’Alene?

Rule: Under the Eleventh Amendment, a state is immune from suits brought in federal courts by its own citizens or citizens of another state.

Application: The Court concluded that the Tribe’s assertion of ownership and regulatory jurisdiction over submerged lands conflicts with the state’s sovereign interest in the area.

Conclusion: The state of Idaho’s interest in the land warranted an exception to the Tribe’s sovereign immunity.

Writing a Case Brief

Learn the components of a case brief: case name, procedural history, facts, issue, holding, reasoning, and any concurrences or dissents. Practice briefing cases from the Idaho Supreme Court to sharpen your skills.

Precedent and Stare Decisis

Understand the importance of precedent in the legal system, how to determine if a case is binding or persuasive, and the doctrine of stare decisis, especially as it applies in Idaho courts.

Pivotal Idaho Cases

  • State v. Doe, 147 Idaho 326 (2009): An important case on juvenile justice in Idaho.
  • V-1 Oil Company v. Means, 133 Idaho 88 (1999): A key case on contract interpretation principles under Idaho law.

Legal Argumentation

Persuasive Writing

Strategies for persuasive legal writing, including the use of precedent, factual narratives, and logical reasoning.

Analyzing Statutes and Regulations

Understand how to interpret statutes and regulations, with special attention to those specific to Idaho, such as the Idaho Human Rights Act or Idaho Water Laws.

Practical Writing Exercises

  • Drafting a Complaint
  • Responding to a Motion to Dismiss
  • Writing a Legal Memorandum

Oral Advocacy

  • Effective oral argument techniques, focusing on clarity, brevity, and persuasion.
  • Moot court exercises relevant to Idaho law.

Professional Ethics

  • Idaho Rules of Professional Conduct
  • The importance of confidentiality, competence, and conflict of interest.

In conclusion, this study guide serves as a foundation for your legal research and writing education. It is important to engage actively with the material, practice your skills, and seek feedback from professors and peers. Remember that legal writing is an iterative process, and continual improvement is key to success in the legal profession.

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