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


Legal research and writing is a fundamental skill necessary for all legal professionals. In this course, students learn to navigate various legal sources, and to write legal documents such as case briefs, memos, and persuasive briefs.

  1. Legal Research

Texas law schools emphasize the importance of using both primary and secondary sources. Primary sources include constitutions, statutes, regulations, and case law, while secondary sources include legal encyclopedias, law review articles, and legal treatises.

  1. Legal Writing

Legal writing entails creating clear, concise, and persuasive legal arguments. This includes understanding the differences between predictive writing (objective) and persuasive writing (subjective).


Case briefs are essential tools in understanding and synthesizing case law. They include the following elements:

  1. Facts: Brief description of the circumstances leading up to the case.
  2. Issue: Legal question the court is asked to resolve.
  3. Rule: Legal principle the court uses to make its decision.
  4. Analysis: The court’s application of the rule to the facts.
  5. Conclusion: The final decision of the court.


Legal analysis is a critical thinking process used to analyze a fact situation and apply the law to those facts. This process is often framed by the IRAC method – Issue, Rule, Application, and Conclusion.


Texas follows the citation guidelines provided by the Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation.


  1. Predictive Writing

This is used to forecast an outcome in a legal situation. The most common predictive writing assignments include legal memos and case briefs.

  1. Persuasive Writing

Used when advocating for a client’s position. The most common persuasive writing documents include trial briefs and appellate briefs.


  1. Marbury v. Madison, 5 U.S. 137 (1803): This case established the principle of judicial review, i.e., the power of the courts to review the constitutionality of legislation.


  • Issue: Whether the Supreme Court has the authority to review and overturn laws passed by Congress.
  • Rule: The Constitution is the supreme law of the land and any law inconsistent with it is invalid.
  • Application: The Court found that the law granting it original jurisdiction over Marbury’s claim was unconstitutional because it expanded the Court’s original jurisdiction beyond what was provided in the Constitution.
  • Conclusion: The Supreme Court has the power to review and invalidate laws that it finds to be inconsistent with the Constitution.
  1. Palsgraf v. Long Island Railroad Co., 248 N.Y. 339 (1928): This case established the principle of proximate cause in negligence law.


  • Issue: Whether the defendant owes a duty of care to the plaintiff who was an unforeseeable victim.
  • Rule: A defendant owes a duty of care only to foreseeable plaintiffs.
  • Application: The Court found that the defendant’s conduct was not the proximate cause of the plaintiff’s injury because the plaintiff was not a foreseeable victim.
  • Conclusion: The defendant was not liable as the plaintiff’s injuries were not the proximate result of the defendant’s negligence.

Remember, the key to successful legal research and writing is practice. Refine your skills by continuously engaging with case law, statutes, and legal arguments. Remember to always critically evaluate the strength of legal arguments and to pay close attention to detail. Finally, always check for updates in the law, as it is continuously evolving.

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