Navigating this Blog

There are countless ways to style legal writing. In this blog, you will find various approaches to legal writing that I have found to be effective. Take it all with a grain of salt.

I hope some of this helps. Good luck!

Memo Outline

A typical memo includes five sections: 

(1) Issue, 
(2) Brief Answer, 
(3) Facts, 
(4) Discussion, and 
(5) Conclusion.  

This is the best way to approach learning to draft effective legal memos.  But keep in mind that, in practice, attorneys often prefer that memos do not adhere to this standard format.

Below is an illustration of what your memo would look like, as well as a brief description of each of the sections of your memo.  The individual sections of the memo are each discussed elsewhere on this blog.





     Brief single sentence issue statement, which appropriately defines the legal question addressed and includes a few relevant facts that go to answering that legal question.

Brief Answer(s)

     Brief answer to your issue statement that begins with a "yes" or a "no" and follows with a succinct explanation of your basis for that answer, preferably including the facts that support your conclusion.


     Succinct statement of facts that includes all facts that you analyze in your discussion section and any other facts necessary for relevance.

     An introductory or "umbrella" paragraph(s) is a helpful way to define the legal rule(s) that you will be analyzing.  Typically, you will organize your discussion of the legal rule into subsections that correspond to the elements of the legal rule.  For example, if you are analyzing a tort, you might break your discussion into three sections: (1) whether the defendant owed the plaintiff a duty, (2) whether the defendant breached that duty, and (3) whether the plaintiff suffered any damages.  The headings of your sections should correspond to the element of the rule that you will be analyzing within that section. Preferably, the heading will be your Conclusion to that issue, phrased as a complete sentence.   

I. The defendant owed the plaintiff a duty to transport her to school in a reasonably safe manner.

     ¶ 1 - Your first sentence should clearly state the applicable Rule (or sub-rule) (I.e., "To prevail on her claim, the plaintiff must first prove that the defendant owed her a duty of care.")  Your next sentence(s) should provide an Explanation of the Rule, which serves as a road map to your reader by informing your reader of the topics that you are going to address in the remainder of your analysis section.

     ¶ - Following your introductory paragraph comes your first analysis paragraph, where you will analyze the rule/issue identified in your previous paragraph by comparing case law facts and holdings to your facts.  When possible, start each paragraph with a topic sentence.  Following your topic sentence, analyze cases that discuss that topic by stating the relevant facts and holdings from those cases.  Next, compare those cases to the facts of your own case.  You will likely have a number of analysis paragraphs, depending on the nature of your legal issue.  If the legal issues are complex, you may even choose to further break up your analysis by subsections.
     ¶ Your final paragraph/sentence should succinctly repeat your Conclusion for this analysis section.

II. The defendant breached his duty to the plaintiff by operating the school bus while intoxicated.

     Repeat above.

III. The plaintiff suffered significant injuries as a result of the defendant's conduct.

     Repeat above.

- - - - - - - - - - - - -

Sample Outline:

     Whether Linda Petersen, owner of Petersen Pilates, Inc. fitness center ("PPI") and developer of a unique personalized Pilates training method, has a claim against Alexandria Dimitri, a former PPI employee, for misappropriation of a trade secret resulting from Ms. Dimitri's unauthorized use of a similar training method at another fitness center.

     Yes, a court would most likely find that Ms. Petersen's personalized Pilates plan method could be a trade secret and Ms. Dimitri's use of this method at another fitness center could constitute misappropriation of that trade secret because Ms. Dimitri should have known that her acquisition of the method was improper and Ms. Dimitri used the method without Ms. Petersen's express or implied consent.

     [[Include concise explanation of facts]]

     The validity of Ms. Petersen's claim for trade secret misappropriation depends upon whether (1) the PPI System could be a trade secret, (2) Ms. Dimitri should have known that her acquisition of the PPI System was through improper means, and (3) Ms. Dimitri used the PPI System without Ms. Petersen's consent. These issues are governed by the Colorado Uniform Trade Secrets Act ("CO UTSA"), C.R.S.A. § 7-74-102 (2009).Mineral Deposits Limited v. Zigan, 773 P.2d 606, 608 (Colo. App. 1989). Whether the PPI System is a trade secret and whether Ms. Dimitri's acquisition and use of the PPJ System constituted misappropriation are questions of fact. Gold Messenger, Inc. v. McGuay, 937 P.2d 907, 911 (Colo. App. 1997); Powell Products, Inc. v. Marks, 948 F. Supp. 1469, 1482 (D. Colo. 1996).

I. A court would likely find that Petersen's PPI System constitutes a trade secret.

   a.  Ms. Petersen's PPI System was not known outside of her business. 
   [[Analysis in the form of CREAC]]
   b. Ms. Petersen's employees did not know how the PPI System operated.
   [[Analysis in the form of CREAC]]
   c. Ms. Petersen took adequate measures to protect the trade secret.
   [[Analysis in the form of CREAC]]
II. Ms. Dimitri should have known that she improperly acquired the PPI System.
   [[Analysis in the form of CREAC]]
III. Ms. Dimitri used the PPI System without Ms. Petersen's consent. 
   [[Analysis in the form of CREAC]] 

   Ms. Petersen should succeed with her misappropriation of trade secret claim against Ms. Dimitri because (1) Ms. Petersen's PPI System is likely a trade secret, (2) Ms. Dimitri acquired Ms. Petersen's PPI System through improper means, and (3) Ms. Dimitri used the PPI System without Ms. Petersen's consent.