Online Companion: Legal Research, Analysis, and Writing
Chapters 16 & 17
The drafting of an office legal memorandum is one of the most important
and often difficult types of legal writing assignments a paralegal or
law clerk is required to perform. It requires the integration of the research,
analysis, and writing skills discussed throughout this text.
An office memorandum is designed for office use and is usually drafted
for the supervisory attorney. It involves the legal analysis of issues
raised by the facts of a clientÆs case. It is designed to identify
the law that applies to the legal issue, analyze how the law applies to
the issue, and present a proposed solution or conclusion based on the
It is recommended that you follow the writing process presented in Chapter
15 when preparing an office memorandum. The recommended format for the
organization of the office memorandum is as follows:
Statement of Assignment
Statement of Facts
Rule of law
Case law (if necessary)ùinterpretation of rule of law
Application of law to facts of case
This chapter presents
the considerations involved in the preparation of the heading, statement
of assignment, issue, brief answer, and statement of facts sections of
the office memorandum. The considerations involved in the preparation
of the analysis through recommendations sections are discussed in Chapter
The heading section contains information describing who the memo is from
and to, the name of the case, and the nature of the issue. The statement
of assignment section provides a description of the topic covered and
the parameters of the assignment.
The issue section follows the statement of assignment. It is one of the
most important parts of the memo. It informs the reader of the precise
legal question addressed in the analysis section of the memo. It should
include the applicable rule of law, the exact legal question, and the
key facts that are necessary for the resolution of the issue. The brief
answer section provides a brief and precise answer to the issue and a
brief summary of the reasons in support of the answer.
The statement of facts section provides the facts of the clientÆs
case that gave rise to the issue addressed in the memo. It includes the
background and key facts of the dispute and should provide sufficient
factual information to allow the reader to understand the analysis without
having to refer to the case file or any other source outside the memo.
Many of the procedures and steps involved in preparing an office memorandum
apply to the preparation of legal writing designed for external use, such
as correspondence to clients and documents to be filed with a court, including
trial court and appellate court briefs. In order to thoroughly cover this
topic, the analysis, conclusion, and recommendations sections of the office
memorandum are covered in the next chapter.
This chapter addresses considerations involved in preparing the second
half of an office memorandum: the analysis, conclusion, and recommendations
sections. The focus of the chapter is on the analysis section.
The heart of an office memorandum is the analysis section. The purpose
of a memorandum is to inform the reader of the law that governs the issue
and how the law applies in the clientÆs case. This information is
conveyed in the analysis section of the office memo. In this section,
the reader is informed through:
• A presentation
of the law that governs the issue
• An explanation of how the law applies through reference to court
opinions that applied the law in similar situations
• A discussion of how the law applies to the issue(s) in the clientÆs
Included in the analysis
is a discussion of any counterargument the opposing side may raise.
basic format for the analysis section is as follows:
Part A.áRule of law
Part B.áCase law (if necessary)ùinterpretation of rule
2.áFacts of caseùsufficient to demonstrate case is on
3.áRule or legal principle from case that applies to the clientÆs
of the law to the facts of the clientÆs case
Following the analysis
section is the conclusion. Since the application of the law to the issue
is discussed in the analysis section, the conclusion should contain a
summary of the law and analysis already presented. It should inform the
reader of all the applicable law and how it applies.
The recommendations section is the last section of the office memo. It
includes any recommendations concerning the next steps to be taken or
further research or investigation that should be conducted. In some law
firms, the recommendations section is included in the conclusion or not
required at all.
The format discussed in this chapter is a recommended format. There is
no standard office memorandum format. Different law offices have different
preferences. Use the format presented in this chapter if appropriate;
modify it according to your needs.
16 and 17 ASSIGNMENTS
In each of the following
exercises, the assignment is to prepare an office memorandum. Each assignment
contains the assignment memo from the supervisory attorney that includes
all the available facts of the case. Complete the memo based on these
facts. If additional facts need to be identified, note this in the recommendations
section of the memo. When preparing the heading of each assignment, use
your name for the To line, and put Supervisory Attorney after the From.
Following each assignment is a reference to the applicable enacted and
case law. In some assignments the case citation includes a reference only
to the regional reporter citation; the state reporter citation is not
included. Use only the citation presented in the assignment.
The first time you cite the opinion, use the citation format you are given
for the opinion in the assignment.
For Example: Melia v. Dillon Companies, Inc.,
18 Kan. App. 2d 5, 846 P.2d 257 (1993).
This is how you should cite this opinion the first time it is used in
the memorandum. When you need to quote from an opinion in the memo, cite
to the regional reporter page cite only.
Melia, 846 P.2d at 258, or Id.
The page number where each page begins is printed in bold and preceded
by two asterisks.
Martin Melia filed
suit seeking compensatory and punitive damages against Dillon **259
Companies, Inc., (Dillon) upon allegations of false imprisonment and
malicious prosecution. The jury returned a verdict in favor of Melia,
awarding compensatory damage of $20,200.
Page 259 begins after
Do not conduct additional research. Complete the assignment using the
facts, enacted law, and case law contained in each assignment. For purposes
of the assignments, assume the cases have not been overturned or modified
by subsequent court decisions.
To: (Your name)
From: Supervisory Attorney
Re: Duran v. Shoptown
Janet Duran was shopping at Shoptown, a local grocery store. She thought
she needed only a few items so she didn't
get a grocery cart. As she shopped she realized she needed another item,
and her hands being full, she put the extra item, nail polish, in her
coat pocket. Later she realized she didn't need the polish and put it
back. A store security person saw her put the polish in her pocket,
but did not see her put it back. When she left the store, the guard
stopped her and took her to the manager's office, stating she was being
held for shoplifting. The store manager searched her purse and told
her to empty her pockets. The security person and the manager were both
extremely rude. After she emptied her pockets and the manager searched
her purse, the store manager told her she could leave. Mrs. Duran was
upset and embarrassed by the ordeal, and she wants to sue.
What is the likelihood of Mrs. Duran prevailing on a false imprisonment
Statutory Law: Kan. Stat. Ann. º 21-3424 Criminal
(1) Unlawful restraint is knowingly and without legal authority restraining
another so as to interfere substantially with his liberty.
. . . .
(3) Any merchant, his agent or employee, who has probable cause to believe
that a person has actual possession of and (a) has wrongfully taken,
or (b) is about to wrongfully take merchandise from a mercantile establishment,
may detain such person (a) on the premises or (b) in the immediate vicinity
thereof, in a reasonable manner and for a reasonable period of time
for the purpose of investigating the circumstances of such possession.
Such reasonable detention shall not constitute an arrest nor an unlawful
Melia v. Dillon Companies, Inc.,
18 Kan. App. 2d 5, 846 P.2d 257 (1993). The case is presented in Chapter
4, Web Assignment 7.
To: (Your name)
From: Supervisory Attorney
Re: Frampton v. City
On the evening of January 15, city police officers stopped Jerry Myers
on suspicion of drunk driving. One passenger, Susan Lane, accompanied
Mr. Myers. Mr. Myers was obviously intoxicated and arrested for DUI.
Although officers smelled alcohol on SusanÆs breath, it did not
appear to them that she was intoxicated. Susan had been taking drugs
in addition to drinking. The officers did not require Susan to take
a field sobriety test. After talking to her for a few minutes and determining
that she lived only two blocks away, they decided it was safe for her
to drive the automobile to her house. On the way home she lost control
of the vehicle, and it swerved into a car driven by our client, Mrs.
Frampton, who suffered extensive injuries.
We intend to sue the city for negligence. With the above facts in mind,
prepare a memo addressing the following questions:
1. Did the officers owe a duty of care to Mrs. Frampton?
2. Are the city police officersÆ actions protected by sovereign
Law: Assume the common law of Florida provides that the four
elements of negligence are duty, breach, proximate cause, and damages.
Fla. Stat. Ann. º 768.28(1) (West 1997). Waiver of sovereign immunity
in tort actions, provides:
ôIn accordance with s. 13, Art. X, State Constitution, the state,
for itself and for its agencies or subdivisions, hereby waives sovereign
immunity for liability for torts, but only to the extent specified in
this act. Actions at law against the state or any of its agencies or subdivisions
to recover damages in tort for money damages against the state or its
agencies or subdivisions for injury . . . caused by the negligent or wrongful
act or omission of any employee of the agency or subdivision while acting
within the scope of the employeeÆs office or employment under circumstances
in which the state or such agency or subdivision, if a private person,
would be liable to the claimant, in accordance with the general laws of
this state, may be prosecuted subject to the limitations specified in
Henderson v. Bowden,
737 So.2d 532 (Fla 1999).
To: (Your name)
From: Supervisory Attorney
Re: McKnown v. Grieten
On July 6, our client, Johann Grieten, gave his daughter, Joanne, the
car keys and told her to drive to the shopping mall and purchase some
paint. The mall is approximately eight miles from their home. He told
her, "Go directly to the mall and come directly home. Don't, I
repeat, don't go anywhere else. Don't go to your friends house, don't
go shopping." Joanne purchased the paint and returned home. Her
father had gone to a neighbor's and was not home. He left a note saying
"I'll be back in a couple of hours." Joanne's friend Sally
called and said, "You've got to see the new car my dad is going
to buy me." As Joanne drove to the dealership to meet Sally, she
failed to yield at a stop sign and collided with Jeffery McKnownÆs
car. McKnown is suing Mr. Grieten. Mr. Grieten owns the car his daughter
was driving. Under state law, is Mr. Grienten liable given the fact
that his daughter exceeded his instructions in regard to the use of
Law: Minn Stat. Ann. º 170.54 Driver deemed agent of owner.
"Whenever any motor vehicle shall be operated within this state,
by any person other than the owner, with the consent of the owner, express
or implied, the operator thereof shall in case of accident, be deemed
the agent of the owner of such motor vehicle in the operation thereof."
Case Law: Jones
v. Fleischhacker, 325 N.W.2d 633 (Minn. 1982).
Perform Assignments 1 through 3 using your state's statutory and case
16 and 17 INTERNET RESOURCES
The Internet resources for this chapter are the same as those listed in
Chapter 15. Due to the large number of sites, the best strategy would
be to narrow your search to a specific type of legal writing and topic,
such as "issues, legal memorandum, public service contracts,"
" analysis, legal memorandum, public service contracts,ö or
ôapplication of law, legal memorandum, highway construction."
Research Memorandum Format