Missouri Law School 1L Study Guide for Legal Research and Writing
Introduction to Legal Research and Writing
Legal research and writing are foundational skills for any law student and practicing attorney. In Missouri, as in other jurisdictions, these skills are essential for effective practice.
Legal research involves the process of identifying and retrieving information necessary to support legal decision-making. Key resources for legal research include primary sources (statutes, cases, constitutions, regulations) and secondary sources (law reviews, treatises, legal encyclopedias).
Legal writing is a specialized type of technical writing used by lawyers to express legal analysis and legal rights and duties. It includes legal memoranda, briefs, and judicial opinions, among other documents.
Missouri Revised Statutes (RSMo): These are the codified laws of the State of Missouri. Students must become familiar with navigating the RSMo to find relevant statutory law for various legal issues.
Missouri case law is developed through the decisions of Missouri courts. Key reporters include the Southwestern Reporter for appellate decisions and Missouri Reports for Supreme Court decisions.
Missouri Code of State Regulations (CSR): This contains rules created by state agencies.
U.S. Constitution and Missouri Constitution are both foundational documents that law students must understand.
Missouri Law Review
An important resource for scholarly legal analysis and criticism.
Treatises and Practice Manuals
These provide detailed and comprehensive coverage of Missouri law.
Missouri Practice Series: A secondary source specifically focused on Missouri law.
Legal Writing Components
Issue, Rule, Application, Conclusion – a common method for legal analysis.
Internal documents used to communicate legal analysis within a law firm or other legal entity.
Documents submitted to a court advocating for a client’s legal position.
Written decisions by judges explaining the outcome of a case.
The standard for legal citation in academic writing.
Missouri Style Manual
The citation guide for legal documents in Missouri.
Case Law Review Using IRAC
Palsgraf v. Long Island Railroad Co. (1928)
- Issue: Whether the railroad was negligent and if that negligence extended to unforeseen plaintiffs.
- Rule: The court established the principle that the defendant owes a duty of care only to those who are reasonably foreseeable victims of their actions.
- Application: The court found that Palsgraf’s injuries were not the foreseeable result of the railroad’s employees’ actions.
- Conclusion: The court ruled in favor of Long Island Railroad, holding that the injury to Palsgraf was not a foreseeable harm arising from the negligence of the railroad employees.
Missouri v. Jenkins (1989)
- Issue: The issue was whether the district court could order the state of Missouri to increase taxes to fund remedial education programs following a finding of de jure segregation.
- Rule: The U.S. Supreme Court held that federal courts do not have the authority to directly impose tax levies for school desegregation.
- Application: The Supreme Court determined that the district court’s order for the state of Missouri to levy taxes was inappropriate because it overstepped the scope of federal judicial authority.
- Conclusion: The decision was reversed and remanded, limiting the power of federal courts in ordering remedies that directly affect a state’s fiscal policies.
Understanding the Facts
Critical analysis of the facts is essential in predicting how a court may apply the law.
Combining multiple legal authorities to form a cohesive legal argument.
Analogizing and Distinguishing Case Law
Using precedent to support arguments or show that a case at hand is materially different.
Missouri Rules of Professional Conduct
Students must understand the ethical rules governing the practice of law in Missouri.
Confidentiality and Privilege
Understanding the ethical requirements for maintaining client confidentiality.
Creating various legal documents, including complaints, answers, and discovery requests.
Developing persuasive arguments both in writing and in oral advocacy.
Effective use of legal databases such as Westlaw, LexisNexis, and Fastcase, which are often used in Missouri legal research.
Editing and Citation Checking
Legal writing requires precision and adherence to citation formats.
Legal research and writing skills are crucial for a successful law practice in Missouri. Mastery of these subjects as a 1L will provide a strong foundation for a law student’s academic and professional future. Students should familiarize themselves with Missouri-specific resources and rules to excel in their legal studies and future careers in the legal field.