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

I. Introduction to Legal Research and Writing

Summary: This introductory section focuses on the basics of legal research and writing. It covers important skills such as locating and interpreting case law, statutes, and secondary sources.

II. Statutory Interpretation

Summary: Statutory interpretation is a critical part of legal research. It involves understanding how to interpret and apply statutes on various legal issues.

Applicable Law: The Wisconsin Statutes

Case: Wisconsin Central Ltd v. United States, 138 S. Ct. 2067 (2018) In the IRAC format (Issue, Rule, Application, Conclusion), the issue is whether payments to employees for time lost from work are taxable under the Railroad Retirement Tax Act. The rule is the court’s interpretation of the Act. The application involves analysis of the Act’s language and intent. The court concluded that the payments were not taxable.

III. Case Law Research

Summary: This section discusses how to perform effective case law research, which entails identifying relevant cases and understanding their significance to the current legal issue.

Applicable Law: The Wisconsin Reports

Case: State v. Brown, 344 Wis. 2d 173 (Wis. Ct. App. 2012). The issue is whether the defendant’s right to confrontation was violated. The rule is the interpretation of the Sixth Amendment’s Confrontation Clause. The application involves a detailed analysis of the trial court proceedings. The court concluded that there was no violation.

IV. Legal Analysis and Reasoning

Summary: Legal analysis and reasoning involve using facts, laws, and logic to solve a legal issue. This section will cover how to logically structure arguments and counterarguments in legal writing.

V. Legal Citation

Summary: Legal citation is the practice of referencing legal authorities and sources in legal writing. It is important for establishing credibility and supporting arguments.

Applicable Law: The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation

VI. Legal Writing

Summary: This section covers different forms of legal writing, including case briefs, memorandum, and court opinions.

Applicable Law: Wisconsin Rules of Civil Procedure

Case: Johnson v. Masters, 323 Wis. 2d 837 (Wis. Ct. App. 2009). In the IRAC format, the issue is whether the trial court erred in dismissing plaintiff’s complaint for failure to state a claim. The rule is the interpretation of Wisconsin’s pleading standards. The application involves analyzing the sufficiency of the complaint. The court concluded that the trial court did not err.

VII. Legal Ethics in Research and Writing

Summary: Discusses ethical considerations in legal research and writing, such as plagiarism, misrepresentation of facts, and unauthorized practice of law.

Applicable Law: Wisconsin Rules of Professional Conduct for Attorneys

Case: In re Disciplinary Proceedings Against Kratz, 354 Wis. 2d 601 (Wis. 2014). The issue is whether the attorney’s conduct violated the professional conduct rules. The rule is the interpretation of the Wisconsin Rules of Professional Conduct. The application involves analyzing the attorney’s conduct. The court concluded that the attorney’s conduct did violate the rules.

This guide outlines the fundamental concepts, laws, and case law for a 1L Legal Research and Writing course at a Wisconsin Law School. It is important to delve deeper into each topic and review relevant cases and laws in preparation for a final semester exam.

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