I’ve finished up my Civil Procedure and Legal Writing courses for the semester. It’s interesting to only have a single final left, and that one being a week out. A few things I learned about how I write:
1. I do not write in IRAC format. I’ve got to get used to putting the rules ahead of the cases they’re found from. This seems odd to me, since the cases determine the rule. To me, it makes more sense to go Issue, Authority, Rule, Analysis ( and this is misnamed, IMHO. It’s more like, “sub issues + Pi, D arguments ), Conclusion. But on exams, I almost always write Authority, Analysis. I don’t know why — but under exam condition, I tend to naturally think this way, and I’ve got to stop it. I think I’ll writ a big IRAC on my worksheets for the contracts final.
2. Rule/Case maps. Legal writing has shown me that I do not detail my case maps enough. I probably need to start adding the page numbers where I find rules/legal facts into my maps. I spent way too much time re-reading cases, looking for a single point I already had in my notes. The disconnect between when I take the notes and when I write the brief is pretty high, and I realize that to solve it, I need to change how I take notes.
In all, Law school has taught me about how I think, more than it has about law. I think in high levels, and fill in the details as I need them — works great in tech where you’re often braking a problem down. However, law school writing is opposite to that — it wants you to start with the details, then move up an argument to an authority who decides if it is correct. Next semester will be where I really use the knowledge I’ve gained about how I think/communicate to see how it impacts my life. One thing — It’s changed how I read forms, and it’s changed how I ask questions of people. I now know that I tend to think in high levels and amass high-level concepts together. I now know that I should also look at the depth of levels, and since that’s not natural to me, I have to stop and do it on purpose.
Oh, and for those of you who are interested in these things — here’s a quick case map for Due process/ Civil procedure in my modified IRAC format:
Issue: What does due process require?
Rule: Due process of law is the rule with sub-rules of notice and opportunity to be heard. I’ll skip notice, and focus on opportunity to be heard, as notice is defined by federal rules of civil procedure, rule 4. Opportunity to be head is more common law, and is interpreted by Hamdi v. Rumsfeld, Lassiter v. Dept. of Social Services, and Walters v. Nat’l association of radiation survivors.
Authority/Legal facts: Hamdi — When arrested for terrorism/treason, Due process requires an opportunity to be heard by D. This means a neutral arbiter, counsel, and more than just, “because I say so” evidence, and we use the Matthews test to determine if the balance of the process is correct. Lassiter — When issue Due process does not require that the state pays for a lawyer when liberty is not at stake. Walters — Due process does not require a neutral arbiter on first instance or an attorney when the interest of the party is too small and the facts too specialized ( as in medical diagnosis — supreme court said that it made no sense for a legal process to make a medical diagnosis ).
Analysis: That’s up to you — compare and contract Hamdi, Lassiter, and Walters to whatever your argument is.
Conclusion: I don’t think anyone cares about this in Law school, so I’ll ignore it in this post.