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

Legal Research and Writing – Indiana Law School 1L Study Guide

Understanding Legal Research

  1. Primary vs. Secondary Sources
    • Primary sources: actual law (constitutions, statutes, regulations, case law).
    • Secondary sources: commentary on the law (law reviews, treatises, restatements).
    • Knowing the hierarchy of sources is key to effective legal research.
  2. Legal Research Databases
    • Familiarity with Westlaw, LexisNexis, and Bloomberg Law.
    • State-specific sources, such as the Indiana Legal Information System (ILIS).
  3. Indiana Legal Research Specifics
    • Indiana Code: the codified laws of Indiana.
    • Indiana Administrative Code: regulations from Indiana agencies.
    • Indiana Court Rules: must be familiar with for proper formatting and procedure.
  4. Citations
    • Understanding The Bluebook and Indiana-specific citation rules.
    • Importance of proper citation for clarity and credibility in legal writing.

Legal Writing

  1. IRAC (Issue, Rule, Application, Conclusion)
    • Standard framework for legal analysis.
    • Essential for organizing legal arguments effectively.
  2. Legal Memos and Briefs
    • Differences between internal memos and appellate briefs.
    • Components of each and how to structure persuasive arguments.
  3. Clarity and Precision
    • Importance of clear, concise, and precise language in legal writing.
    • Avoiding legalese for better understanding and argument flow.
  4. Legal Writing Style
    • Active vs. passive voice.
    • Proper use of grammar, punctuation, and syntax in legal contexts.

Indiana-Specific Case Law

Marbury v. Madison, 5 U.S. 137 (1803)
– Issue: Do the plaintiffs have a right to receive their commissions?
– Rule: When the Constitution conflicts with an act of the legislature, the act is invalid.
– Application: Marbury has a right to his commission under the law, but the court has no power to issue a writ of mandamus.
– Conclusion: The law granting the Supreme Court the power to issue writs of mandamus is unconstitutional.

Erie Railroad Co. v. Tompkins, 304 U.S. 64 (1938)
– Issue: Should federal courts apply state law or federal general common law when deciding state law claims?
– Rule: Federal courts must apply state law in diversity jurisdiction cases.
– Application: The federal court should have applied Pennsylvania’s law instead of general federal common law.
– Conclusion: Overturning Swift v. Tyson, the Court held that federal courts exercising diversity jurisdiction must apply state substantive law.

Indiana-specific Case: Litchfield v. State, 824 N.E.2d 356 (Ind. 2005)
– Issue: Whether evidence obtained from a search violated the Fourth Amendment.
– Rule: Searches and seizures are reasonable if they have a warrant or fall under a recognized exception.
– Application: The search of Litchfield’s property was conducted without a warrant and did not meet an exception.
– Conclusion: The evidence obtained from the search was inadmissible.

Indiana-specific Case: Pivarnik v. Niles, 446 N.E.2d 45 (Ind. 1983)
– Issue: Whether the defendant received a fair trial despite media coverage.
– Rule: The defendant is entitled to a trial free from undue prejudice.
– Application: Extensive media coverage did not prevent a fair trial as the jury was properly instructed.
– Conclusion: The conviction was upheld.

Writing Persuasively

  1. Crafting a Thesis Statement
    • Importance of a strong, clear thesis to guide the legal argument.
    • Must be arguable, specific, and tailored to the audience and jurisdiction (e.g., Indiana).
  2. Using Facts Effectively
    • Fact patterns and how to weave them into legal analysis.
    • Distinguishing between material and immaterial facts.
  3. Addressing Counterarguments
    • Anticipating and refuting counterarguments to strengthen your position.
    • Importance of acknowledging and addressing weaknesses in your argument.
  4. Policy Arguments
    • When and how to incorporate policy considerations into legal writing.
    • Relevance of the social, economic, and political impact of legal decisions in Indiana.

Editing and Proofreading

  1. Importance of Multiple Drafts
    • Writing as a process that requires multiple revisions.
    • The value of peer review and feedback.
  2. Attention to Detail
    • Importance of meticulously checking citations, quotes, and references.
    • Ensuring compliance with Indiana court rules and formatting requirements.
  3. Proofreading Strategies
    • Techniques for catching common errors and improving sentence structure.
    • Reading aloud, backward reading, and peer review as effective methods.

In preparing for a final semester exam in an Indiana Law School 1L class, students should focus on mastering the principles of legal research and writing, understanding the structure of Indiana’s legal system, and familiarizing themselves with foundational case law and how to apply it using IRAC. Proficiency in research databases and citation methods, as well as the ability to write clearly, persuasively, and with proper legal analysis, will be crucial. Engaging with Indiana-specific concepts and case law will ensure that students are adequately prepared for practice within the state.

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