New Hampshire Law School 1L Study Guide for Legal Research and Writing

New Hampshire Law School 1L Study Guide for Legal Research and Writing

Legal Research

  • Primary Sources: These are the law itself—constitutions, statutes, administrative regulations, and case law. In New Hampshire, the primary sources include the New Hampshire Constitution, New Hampshire Revised Statutes Annotated (RSA), and decisions from the New Hampshire Supreme Court and lower courts.

  • Secondary Sources: These are materials that explain or analyze the law, such as law review articles, treatises, restatements, and legal encyclopedias. The New Hampshire Bar Journal is an example of a secondary source that may provide insights into local legal issues.

  • Legal Databases: Familiarity with databases like Westlaw, LexisNexis, and Bloomberg Law is essential for researching both primary and secondary sources. New Hampshire-specific databases or sections within these platforms may be particularly helpful.

  • Research Strategies: It’s important to develop a research plan, starting with secondary sources to get an overview and then moving to primary sources for the binding authority. Always update and validate your research.

Legal Writing

  • IRAC Method: A foundational tool for legal writing, standing for Issue, Rule, Analysis, and Conclusion. This structure is used to organize legal analysis.

  • Case Briefing: When reading cases, students should practice briefing them to understand the key points. This includes summarizing the facts, identifying the legal issue, noting the holding, and understanding the court’s reasoning.

  • Legal Citation: The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation is the dominant citation guide. New Hampshire citations should conform to this style unless specified otherwise by local court rules.

  • Memoranda and Briefs: Students must learn the formats and conventions for writing legal memoranda and briefs. The aim is to present legal arguments clearly and persuasively in a structured document.

Legal Analysis

  • Case Law Analysis: Involves synthesizing case law to determine how courts interpret laws and apply them to various facts. Understanding the New Hampshire court hierarchy is crucial when determining the binding precedent.

  • Statutory Interpretation: New Hampshire statutes may require interpretation. Familiarity with tools like legislative history and canons of construction can assist in divining legislative intent and applying statutes to specific legal issues.

  • Fact Analysis: Being able to apply the law to the given facts is a critical skill. Students should be adept at identifying legally significant facts and explaining how they affect the legal analysis.

Key Concepts and Cases in New Hampshire Law

  1. The New Hampshire Constitution: Unlike the federal Constitution, the New Hampshire Constitution contains a Bill of Rights that is distinct and more detailed, providing a unique source of rights and legal principles.

  2. Petition of Kilton: A key New Hampshire case related to administrative law and the delegation of legislative powers. This case sets a precedent for how the state interprets the separation of powers.

  • Issue: Whether a statute that allowed a state agency to set rates for medical services without clear guidelines was an unconstitutional delegation of legislative power.

  • Rule: The delegation of legislative power is permissible if the legislature provides sufficient standards to guide the administrative agency.

  • Analysis: The court determined that the statute in question lacked clear standards, thus constituting an impermissible delegation of legislative authority.

  • Conclusion: The court struck down the statute as unconstitutional.

  1. State v. Farrow: Addresses criminal procedure and the rights of the accused under the New Hampshire Constitution, which can be more protective than the federal constitution.
  • Issue: Whether the evidence obtained without a warrant was admissible in court.

  • Rule: Under the New Hampshire Constitution, evidence obtained without a warrant may be subject to stricter scrutiny than under the Federal Constitution.

  • Analysis: The court analyzed the state constitution’s privacy protections and determined that the warrantless search was not justified under state law.

  • Conclusion: The evidence was excluded as it violated the state constitutional standards.

  1. Contract Law: New Hampshire follows the Restatement (Second) of Contracts, which is often persuasive authority. Understanding offer, acceptance, consideration, and defenses to contract formation is essential.

  2. Torts: Students should understand the New Hampshire law on negligence, intentional torts, and defenses such as comparative negligence, which New Hampshire recognizes under RSA 507:7-d.

  3. Property Law: In real property law, cases like Merrill v. Manchester explore adverse possession under New Hampshire law, outlining specific requirements for a claimant to successfully gain title to a property.

  4. Professional Responsibility: New Hampshire attorneys are governed by the New Hampshire Rules of Professional Conduct. Students should be acquainted with these rules, particularly those regarding competence, confidentiality, and conflicts of interest.

Practice and Procedure

  • New Hampshire Court System: Understanding the structure of the New Hampshire court system, including the circuit courts, superior courts, and the Supreme Court of New Hampshire, is foundational for legal practice in the state.

  • New Hampshire Rules of Civil Procedure: These rules govern litigation in New Hampshire courts. Familiarity with key rules such as pleading requirements (Rule 8), summary judgment (Rule 56), and discovery (Rules 26-37) is necessary.

  • Legal Ethics: The New Hampshire Rules of Professional Conduct guide attorney behavior. Students should be familiar with rules on confidentiality (Rule 1.6), conflicts of interest (Rules 1.7-1.9), and other ethical obligations.

This study guide touches on the key concepts, cases, and skills that are essential for a 1L legal research and writing class with a focus on New Hampshire law. It’s important to consult the current course syllabus, textbooks, and New Hampshire legal resources for the most up-to-date and detailed information on these topics.

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