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

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

I. Introduction to Legal Research and Writing
A. Importance of legal research and writing skills for lawyers
B. Understanding the hierarchy of legal authority in Mississippi and the United States
C. Primary vs. Secondary sources of law

II. Legal Research
A. Overview of Legal Research Process
1. Identifying the legal issue
2. Locating relevant statutes, regulations, and case law
3. Utilizing legal research databases (e.g., Westlaw, LexisNexis)
4. Updating the law with Shepard’s or KeyCite

B. Primary Sources
1. Mississippi Constitution
– The foundational legal document for the state of Mississippi
2. Statutes: Mississippi Code
– The codified laws of the state enacted by the Mississippi Legislature
3. Case Law
– Decisions from the Mississippi Supreme Court and Court of Appeals
4. Administrative Regulations
– Rules and regulations from Mississippi state agencies

C. Secondary Sources
1. Legal Encyclopedias (e.g., AmJur, CJS)
2. Law Reviews and Journals
3. Practice Manuals and Treatises
4. Restatements of the Law

III. Legal Writing
A. Components of Legal Analysis
1. Issue
2. Rule
3. Application/Analysis
4. Conclusion (IRAC)

B. Case Briefing
1. Facts
2. Issue
3. Holding
4. Reasoning
5. Rule of Law

C. Predictive Writing
1. Office Memorandums
– Objective analysis of legal issues
2. Client Letters
– Communication of legal analysis in layperson’s terms

D. Persuasive Writing
1. Motions and Briefs
2. The structure and purpose of persuasive legal documents

E. Citation
1. The Bluebook
2. Mississippi-specific citation rules

IV. Case Law Analysis (IRAC Examples)
A. Gagnon v. State, 208 So. 3d 1202 (Miss. 2016)
– Issue: Whether the trial court erred by not suppressing evidence obtained from a vehicle search.
– Rule: The Fourth Amendment requires that searches and seizures be reasonable and based on probable cause or a valid exception to the warrant requirement.
– Analysis: The court reasoned that the officer had probable cause to search the vehicle based on the smell of marijuana.
– Conclusion: The trial court’s decision was affirmed.

B. K.M.D. v. State, 189 So. 3d 839 (Miss. Ct. App. 2015)
– Issue: Whether the juvenile’s confession was given voluntarily and should be admissible.
– Rule: Confessions must be given voluntarily, without coercion, to be admissible.
– Analysis: The court determined that the confession was given voluntarily after considering the totality of the circumstances.
– Conclusion: The juvenile’s confession was admissible.

V. Legal Ethics and Professional Responsibility
A. Mississippi Rules of Professional Conduct
1. Competence, diligence, and zealous representation
2. Confidentiality and attorney-client privilege
3. Conflicts of interest

VI. Practical Skills
A. Legal Document Drafting
1. Complaints
2. Answers
3. Discovery requests and responses
B. Oral Advocacy
1. Moot court exercises
2. Effective oral argument techniques

VII. Legal Research and Writing in the Digital Age
A. Online Research Tools
B. Technological Competence for Lawyers
C. Ethical considerations in electronic communication and research

VIII. Conclusion
A. Importance of continual development of legal research and writing skills
B. Resources for further study and practice (e.g., legal writing centers, workshops)

This comprehensive guide serves as a foundation for the study of legal research and writing for first-year law students in Mississippi. Each topic should be understood in depth, with particular focus on Mississippi law where relevant, alongside general principles applicable in the broader U.S. legal system. Students are encouraged to supplement this guide with their class notes, textbooks, and other legal resources.

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