ERIC Number: ED468952
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1994-Apr
Reference Count: N/A
Defining Legal Writing: An Empirical Analysis of the Legal Memorandum. LSAC Research Report Series.
Breland, Hunter M.; Hart, Frederick M.
This study examined legal writing as it was represented in legal memoranda prepared by first-semester law students at 12 different law schools. The study was based on the cumulative judgments of the instructors and professors of law in those institutions, humanities specialists at the Educational Testing Service, and two legal consultants. A taxonomy of the elements of the legal memorandum was developed from annotations and written and tape-recorded commentaries on 237 legal memoranda written by the law students. Ratings of the overall quality of the importance of specific elements of the legal memoranda were conducted on multiple occasions by different judges. Statistical analyses of the rating data revealed some disagreement among legal writing instructors with respect of the overall quality of the legal memoranda and with respect to the elements that were strong or weak. Despite these disagreements, it was possible to determine in the aggregate the elements of the legal memoranda that were most important and the relative weight each had in the judgments of the instructors and professors. It was also possible to identify combinations of elements that formed factors important in determining the quality of legal memoranda. Computer analyses of the memoranda indicate differences between thestudent memoranda and other kinds of writing, particularly with respect to the greater use of passive voice and nominalizations in the student memoranda, but the computer variables did not correlate significantly with global quality ratings of the memoranda. Although no significant sex differences were found in the global quality ratings, differences favoring females were observed for several taxonomy elements. Five appendixes contain forms used in the study, the taxonomy of elements, and sample memoranda. (Contains 21 tables and 57 references.) (Author/SLD)
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: Law School Admission Council, Newtown, PA.