Document Type


Publication Title

Perspectives: Teaching Legal Research and Writing

Publication Date

Winter 2010



First Page




First-year legal writing students always plead for model examples of the types of writing we teach. Though most legal writing texts include an appendix of sample legal documents, the students invariably ask for more. They insist that a multitude of samples are needed to fully grasp the structure and organizational approach that is expected of them. Their reasons for wanting models of good legal writing are not without merit. Interoffice memoranda, trial and appellate briefs, as well as the other kinds of legal documents we teach in the first-year writing curriculum are unlike anything our law students have previously seen or written. Through studying samples, students are able to identify the analytical framework used to organize the discussions of varied legal issues and then apply it to their writing assignments. The more samples they have at their disposal, the easier it will be for them to emulate that framework.More samples also reinforce the reality that there is “no one structure which fits all presentations.” Because we teach students to analyze legal problems using traditional paradigms like IRAC, particularly in the first semester, they are often misled into thinking that the presentation of legal analysis must be formulaic and rigid.As the writing assignments become more complicated, we want our students to realize there are different and more sophisticated approaches to organization. This can be accomplished through the use of models.


This article originally appeared in Perspectives: Teaching Legal Research and Writing, published by Thomson Reuters. For more information please visit



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.