Title: Oregon Law School 1L Study Guide for Legal Research and Writing
I. Legal Research
Legal research is the process of identifying and retrieving information necessary to support legal decision-making. It includes studying laws, statutes, regulations, legal articles and journals.
A. Primary Sources of Law
Primary sources are laws, orders, decisions, or regulations issued by a governmental entity or official, such as a court, legislature, or executive agency; the President; or a state governor. It includes:
- Statutes: Laws passed by legislative bodies. Oregon Revised Statutes are the codified laws of the State of Oregon.
Case Law: Decisions rendered by courts, which can create, modify, affirm, or negate law.
Case Example: State v. Newman, 353 Or. 632 (2013)
Issue: Whether the defendant’s right to a speedy trial was violated.
Rule: The right to a speedy trial is guaranteed by both the U.S. Constitution and the Oregon Constitution.
Analysis: The court considered the length of delay, the reason for the delay, the defendant’s assertion of his right, and prejudice to the defendant.
Conclusion: The court held that the delay was not excessive and did not violate the defendant’s right to a speedy trial.
Administrative Laws: Rules and regulations created by administrative agencies. Oregon Administrative Rules are the body of regulations set by agencies of the state government.
B. Secondary Sources of Law
Secondary sources are materials that explain, interpret, or analyze the law, such as legal encyclopedias, treatises, or articles in law reviews.
II. Legal Writing
Legal writing involves the analysis of fact patterns and presentation of arguments in documents such as legal memoranda, briefs, and other legal documents.
A. Legal Memoranda
A legal memorandum presents research and legal analysis of a specific legal question or issue. It includes sections like the statement of facts, question presented, short answer, discussion, and conclusion.
B. Legal Briefs
A legal brief is a written argument submitted to a court. It contains a statement of the facts, the legal issues, arguments backed by law, and the conclusion.
C. IRAC (Issue, Rule, Analysis, Conclusion)
IRAC is a method used in legal analysis. The issue is identified, the rule of law is stated, the rule is applied to the facts, and a conclusion is drawn.
III. Oregon-Specific Legal Research Resources
Several resources specific to Oregon should be utilized in legal research:
- Oregon State Bar Legal Publications: Offers many titles on various legal topics.
Oregon Judicial Department: Provides access to the Supreme Court, Court of Appeals, and Tax Court slip opinions, rules, and orders.
Oregon Legislature’s website: Provides access to statutory law, legislative history, and administrative rules.
IV. Legal Citation
Legal citation is the practice of referencing legal authorities and sources such as statutes, cases, and regulations in legal writing. The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation is the most widely accepted method of legal citation in the United States. Understanding legal citation is essential for reading and writing legal documents.
V. Legal Ethics
Legal ethics are principles of conduct that members of the legal profession are expected to observe in their practice. The Oregon Rules of Professional Conduct are the ethical guidelines for Oregon lawyers.
Remember, the practice of law involves continuous learning and adaptation. The more you can hone your research and writing skills, the more successful you will be. Good luck with your studies!