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Regular version of the site
Master 2019/2020

Legal Writing and Methods of Research

Area of studies: Law
When: 1 year, 1, 2 module
Mode of studies: Full time
Instructors: Polina Malkova
Master’s programme: Law of International Trade, Finance and Economic Integration
Language: English
ECTS credits: 4

Course Syllabus

Abstract

Legal Writing and Methods of Legal Research aims to equip students with skills of conducting legal research and expressing legal analysis effectively in writing. The course is divided into two parts. The first part focuses on preparation of legal documents, such as memoranda, briefs and motions. Students will learn how to utilize various resources for the research and how to construct legal arguments by applying legal rules to the facts. The second part enables students to achieve competence in academic legal research. It focuses on key research methodologies and approaches, including empirical research. The course also explains how to write and structure a thesis according to the requirements at the Higher School of Economics. Practical assignments will give students an opportunity to sharpen their writing skills and learn from the feedback they receive. Overall, the course will be useful both for those who are planning to take up legal practice in various spheres and those who see themselves venturing into academia.
Learning Objectives

Learning Objectives

  • The main purpose of the course is to enable students to: (1) write legal texts in a clear, concise and persuasive manner and (2) choose and justify the methodology for legal research and correctly apply they key research methods.
Expected Learning Outcomes

Expected Learning Outcomes

  • By the end of the course, students are expected to gain the following knowledge and skills: - Gain the skill of efficiently conducting legal research - Know the structure and purpose of main legal documents - Apply the law to the facts and present legal analysis in writing - Use legal citation correctly - Consider the use of language for legal documents and academic written work
  • By the end of the course, students are expected to gain the following knowledge and skills:- Understand how to use key research methods and approaches - Understand how to collect, analyze and interpret the data - Explain and justify the methodological approaches used - Explain the methods of data collection - Understand the main requirements and the structure of a thesis or a dissertation
Course Contents

Course Contents

  • PART I. LEGAL WRITING AND PREPARING LEGAL DOCUMENTS Topic 1 Introduction to legal writing. Conducting legal research.
    The importance of good writing skills for a lawyer. What makes good writing? The notion of legal writing: research, analysis and crafting of the language Types of legal writing and legal documents. Conducting legal research. Plan for conducting research. Sources of law; primary and secondary authorities; case-law. How to use databases: Westlaw, LexisNexis, Konsultant Plus.
  • Topic 2 Preparing a legal document. Legal memorandum
    When to start writing. Making a plan. Structure of a legal document. Legal argument. Legal analysis. I.R.A.C. – the method of legal analysis. Locating the law and applying it to facts. Proving your claim. Undefended claim. Legal memo – definition, types, structure. Other legal documents. Procedural documents. Briefs, court memoranda. Laws. Contracts
  • Topic 3 Language, style and editing. Citations
    The importance of plain English. Active voice. Paragraphs without a common theme. Common mistakes. Unnecessary words and clumsy phrases Editing, cutting and proofreading. Reading “with new eyes”. The importance of citations in a legal document. Citing case-law. Citing statutes. Ethical and professional obligations in legal documents (conflicts of interest, unauthorized practice of law, confidentiality). Writing e-mails.
  • PART II. ACADEMIC WRTING AND RESEARCH METHODOLOGY Topic 4 Academic legal research
    The meaning and distinguishing features of academic legal research. Research in civil and common law systems. Sources: primary, secondary, tertiary. Information search. Purpose of legal research: ascertaining the law, highlighting gaps and inconsistencies, social auditing of law, suggesting reforms. Modes of legal research: historical, comparative, projective, predictive. Interdisciplinary research. Trends in legal research. Key stages of research
  • Topic 5 Research methodology and methods
    The importance and purpose of methodology research. Method and methodology. The value of a scientific method. Criteria of good research. Doctrinal research. Aims, tools and limitations. Empirical (socio-legal) research. Hypothesis and its role. Formulating the hypothesis.
  • Topic 6 Empirical research approaches and strategies
    Research approach. Qualitative and quantitative approach. The mixed-methods approach. Criteria for selecting the research approach. The research strategies. Case studies, experiments, ethnography, phenomenology, ground theory, action research.
  • Topic 7 Data collection. Interpretation of the data.
    Data collection methods. Questionnaires. Interviews. Focus Groups. Observation Sampling: meaning, definition, and methods. What makes a good sample. Sample size. Population and sub-population. Interpretation and analysis of the data. How to interpret qualitative/quantitative data. Critical analysis.
  • Topic 8 Writing a research paper: process, structure, requirements
    Finding a topic and subject of legal research. Novelty. How to start writing. Structure of a paper. Literature review. Statement of a problem. Analysis. Introduction and conclusion. Language. Editing: “write, rinse, repeat”. Proofreading. Academic citation styles. Books, journals. Specific requirements and structure of a Masters’ thesis Making your paper publishable. Where and how to publish.
Assessment Elements

Assessment Elements

  • non-blocking Attendance, active participation and in-class discussion;
  • non-blocking In-class exercises;
  • non-blocking Written assignment.
Interim Assessment

Interim Assessment

  • Interim assessment (2 module)
    0.2 * Attendance, active participation and in-class discussion; + 0.3 * In-class exercises; + 0.5 * Written assignment.
Bibliography

Bibliography

Recommended Core Bibliography

  • Duhart, O., & Stevens, R. W. (2017). Legal Writing : QuickStudy Reference Guide. [Boca Raton, Florida]: QuickStudy Reference Guides. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=1534200
  • Kole, J. S., & American Bar Association. (2013). A Brief Guide to Brief Writing : Demystifying the Memorandum of the Law. Chicago, Illinois: American Bar Association. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=993109

Recommended Additional Bibliography

  • LeClercq, T., & Phillips, T. R. (1995). Expert Legal Writing. Austin: University of Texas Press. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=1478951
  • Zillman, D. N., & Roth, E. J. (2008). Strategic Legal Writing. New York: Cambridge University Press. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=304607