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

I. Introduction to Legal Research and Writing

  1. Legal Research – This encompasses the process of identifying and retrieving legal sources and authorities necessary to support legal arguments and decisions. It involves the use of both primary and secondary sources.

  2. Legal Writing – This is the practice of drafting legal documents such as briefs, memos, and opinions that effectively communicate legal analysis. Clarity, precision, and conciseness are paramount in legal writing.

II. Primary Legal Authorities

  1. Constitutions – The United States and Ohio constitutions are the supreme law of the land and state, respectively. Any laws contradicting them can be declared unconstitutional.

  2. Statutes – These are laws passed by the United States Congress or Ohio General Assembly.

  3. Regulations – These are rules made by federal or state administrative agencies under powers granted to them by statutes.

  4. Case Law – Also known as common law, these are laws that come from court decisions.

Case: Marbury v. Madison (1803)
Issue: Does the Supreme Court have the authority to review acts of Congress and determine if they are unconstitutional?
Rule: Yes, the Supreme Court has this authority under Article III of the U.S. Constitution.
Analysis: The Court found that it was the ultimate interpreter of the constitutional requirements.
Conclusion: The Court struck down the portion of the Judiciary Act of 1789 that permitted the Court to issue writs of mandamus to public officials.

III. Secondary Legal Authorities

  1. Legal Encyclopedias – Provides authoritative and comprehensive overview of legal topics.

  2. Legal Treatises – These are scholarly legal publications that provide in-depth treatment of a specific area of law.

  3. Law Reviews and Journals – Academic publications that contain scholarly articles on various legal topics.

  4. Restatements of the Law – These are summaries of common law rules in specific areas of law, published by the American Law Institute.

IV. Legal Citations

  1. Bluebook – The standard citation system used for legal documentation.

  2. Ohio citation rules – Ohio follows the Bluebook style with few exceptions.

V. Legal Writing

  1. Office Legal Memorandum – An internal document that discusses and analyzes a legal issue for the benefit of the attorney’s client or employer.

  2. Trial Brief – A written document presenting one side’s argument in a dispute, intended for a judge’s consideration.

  3. Appellate Brief – A written document explaining the legal reasons (through discussions of facts, procedural history, and legal arguments) for the appellate court to sustain or overturn a lower court’s decision.

Case: Miranda v. Arizona (1966)
Issue: Was the defendant’s confession admissible given the defendant wasn’t informed of his constitutional rights?
Rule: The Fifth Amendment requires that law enforcement inform suspects of their rights before custodial interrogation.
Analysis: Since the defendant was not informed of his rights, he may not have made the confession voluntarily.
Conclusion: The confession was ruled inadmissible because the defendant was not informed of his rights.

VI. Legal Analysis and Reasoning

  1. Case Briefing – Summarizing a case, including the facts, procedural history, issue, rule, analysis, and conclusion.

  2. IRAC – This stands for Issue, Rule, Analysis, and Conclusion, a method used in legal writing to structure a legal analysis.

  3. Analogical Reasoning – This involves comparing the facts of the case at hand to the facts of previous cases to determine the likely outcome.

  4. Legal Synthesis – This involves combining multiple legal sources to form a coherent legal rule.

VII. Legal Ethics

  1. Rules of Professional Conduct – Standards established by professional legal bodies that guide the conduct of lawyers.

  2. Confidentiality – An ethical rule that requires attorneys to maintain the privacy of client information.

  3. Conflict of Interest – A situation where an attorney’s loyalty to a client may be compromised by relationships with other clients, personal interests, or professional responsibilities.

In Ohio law, these concepts are guided by the Ohio Rules of Professional Conduct. It’s crucial to be aware of Ohio-specific guidelines throughout the semester. For instance, on confidentiality, Rule 1.9 of the Ohio Rules of Professional Conduct provides detailed directions on duties to former clients.

This guide covers the primary themes you’ll encounter in a 1L Legal Research and Writing class, focusing on Ohio law. It’s recommended to enhance this guide with class notes, textbooks, and practical exercises.

Discover more from Legal Three

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading