I. Introduction to Legal Research and Writing
Legal research and writing serve as the foundation for legal practice. They involve identifying legal issues in a set of facts, researching relevant law, applying the law to the facts, and communicating the results in writing.
II. Legal Research
A. Primary vs. Secondary Sources
Primary sources are laws, orders, decisions, or regulations issued by a governmental entity or official, such as a court, legislature, or executive agency.
Secondary sources, on the other hand, describe, interpret, analyze, or critique the law. They include legal encyclopedias, treatises, law review articles, and legal digests.
B. Case Law Research
This involves finding court decisions that are relevant to a legal issue. Key tools include legal databases like Westlaw, LexisNexis, and Google Scholar.
C. Statutory Research
This involves identifying and interpreting statutes that apply to a legal issue. In Oklahoma, statutes are published in the Oklahoma Statutes.
D. Regulatory Research
This involves identifying and understanding rules, regulations, decisions, and orders of administrative agencies. The Oklahoma Administrative Code and Register contains Oklahoma’s administrative rules.
III. Legal Writing
A. The IRAC method
The Issue, Rule, Application, and Conclusion (IRAC) method is a framework for organizing legal analysis.
B. Legal Memoranda
Legal memoranda or memos are documents that analyze a legal issue and recommend a course of action. They are often used to communicate legal advice within a law firm or governmental organization.
C. Appellate Briefs
Appellate briefs are documents filed in appellate court by parties seeking review of a lower court’s decision. They include a statement of facts, statement of the case, summary of argument, argument, and conclusion.
D. Case Briefs
Case briefs are a way of summarizing a court opinion. They include the case name, facts, procedural history, issue, holding, reasoning, and any concurring or dissenting opinions.
E. Legal Citation
Citation is a way of referencing sources. The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation is the most widely used citation manual in the U.S. legal profession.
IV. Oklahoma Specific Laws and Cases
A. Oklahoma Statutes
The Oklahoma Statutes are the codified, statutory laws of Oklahoma.
B. Oklahoma Case Law
Oklahoma case law is the body of law derived from the decisions of Oklahoma’s courts.
C. Key Oklahoma Cases
- Oklahoma Publishing Co. v. District Court (1977)
– Issue: Whether a pre-trial hearing should be open to the public and the press.
– Rule: The First and Fourteenth Amendments protect the right of the public and the press to attend pre-trial hearings.
– Application: The court applied this rule to the facts of the case, balancing the First Amendment rights against the defendant’s right to a fair trial.
– Conclusion: The court held that the pre-trial hearing should have been open to the public and the press.
- State v. Torres (2008)
– Issue: Whether a parent’s constitutional rights were violated by an Oklahoma statute requiring certain sex offenders to register for life.
– Rule: The Due Process Clause protects parents’ fundamental right to maintain a relationship with their children.
– Application: The court found that the statute interfered with this right without sufficient justification.
– Conclusion: The court held that the statute was unconstitutional.
This study guide serves as an overview of legal research and writing, which are essential skills for aspiring lawyers. Studying these topics in depth will provide a solid foundation for a successful legal career.