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


I. Legal Research

  1. Legal Research Methodology

Legal research is the process of identifying and retrieving information necessary to support legal decision-making. Its goal is to find the best answer to a legal question and discover all relevant legal authorities to verify the validity of these answers.

  1. Legal Authorities

Primary authorities are the law itself and come directly from a governing body. They include constitutions, statutes, administrative rules and regulations, and case law. Secondary authorities are various materials that discuss, explain, and analyze the law and include legal treatises, law review articles, and legal encyclopedias.

  1. Statutory Law

Statutory law involves the study of statutes enacted by the legislative body. In Utah, the Utah Code is the compilation of all permanent laws currently in force.

  1. Case Law

Case law involves the study and interpretation of judicial decisions.

Case: State v. Green, 784 P.2d 1131 (Utah 1989)
Issue: Whether the defendant’s right to a public trial was violated?
Rule: A public trial is a constitutional guarantee under the Sixth Amendment.
Application: The facts of the case showed that the trial was closed to the public.
Conclusion: The court reversed the conviction and remanded for a new trial.

II. Legal Writing

  1. Legal Memorandum

A legal memorandum presents research and legal analysis for informal use within law firms, courts, or other agencies. It includes a brief summary of the facts, a detailed statement of the issues, a discussion of the applicable law, and a conclusion.

  1. Case Brief

A case brief is a condensed, concise summary of a court opinion. It includes the facts, procedural history, issue, rule, analysis, and conclusion.

  1. Legal Citation

Legal citation is a standardized way of referring to statutory, regulatory, court, and other legal materials. The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation is commonly used in legal writing and academic settings.

  1. Appellate Brief

An appellate brief is a written legal argument presented to an appellate court. It contains an introduction, a statement of the case and facts, argument and legal authority, and conclusion.

III. Ethics in Legal Research and Writing

  1. Plagiarism

In the legal profession, plagiarism is a serious ethical violation. Legal writers must always give credit to the original sources.

  1. Confidentiality

Confidentiality is a core duty in legal practice. It extends to all communications, documents, and information related to client matters.

  1. Competence

Competence demands that a legal professional should have the knowledge, skill, thoroughness, and preparation necessary for the task at hand.

IV. Legal Analysis

  1. Issue Spotting

Issue spotting involves identifying the legal issues present in a factual situation.

  1. Rule Application

Rule application involves applying the rule of law to the facts of a case.

  1. IRAC Method

IRAC stands for Issue, Rule, Application, and Conclusion. It is a method used to organize legal analysis.

Case: Utah v. Strieff, 136 S. Ct. 2056 (2016)
Issue: Whether evidence seized incident to a lawful arrest on an outstanding warrant should be suppressed?
Rule: An officer may make an arrest on an outstanding warrant and search the arrestee incident to that arrest.
Application: The facts of the case showed that the officer arrested Strieff based on an outstanding warrant.
Conclusion: The court held that the evidence seized incident to the arrest was admissible.

This study guide provides an overview of the essential concepts in Legal Research and Writing. It should be used in conjunction with your course materials and class notes to prepare for your final exam.

Discover more from Legal Three

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

Continue reading