Legal Writing and Methods of Research
- 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.
- 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
- 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 memorandumWhen 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. CitationsThe 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 researchThe 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 methodsThe 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 strategiesResearch 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, requirementsFinding 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.
- Attendance, active participation and in-class discussion;
- In-class exercises;
- Written assignment.
- Interim assessment (2 module)0.2 * Attendance, active participation and in-class discussion; + 0.3 * In-class exercises; + 0.5 * Written assignment.
- 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
- 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