Why Format Matters in a Memorandum of Law
A memorandum of law is a legal document that a lawyer uses to lay out the results of his or her research on a particular case. It will cover essential information like which laws apply to the situation and how he or she will use these laws to achieve the desired outcome of the case. This document is shared internally with other lawyers in a firm or organization and is also read by the client that the lawyer is representing. It covers all of the essentials of the case.
This document is designed to fit a certain format that is maintained across firms and across the industry. Using this format is expected and important for several reasons. This is a formal document; it needs to be persuasive and comprehensive, and the format helps the writer and readers of the memorandum stay organized.
Formality and Professionalism
To understand the importance of following the proper format, we need to first answer the question, “what is a memorandum of law?” In short, legal memorandums are formal documents used to develop the legal strategy that a lawyer will use to win a case. They need to be polished and professional. That’s where the format comes in.
Creating the document around a particular format gives it a professional appearance and demonstrates a clear intention. The formatting and structure of a legal memorandum are designed to capture the reader’s attention and lead them down a specific path. You don’t want them to be distracted because you’re jumping around between topics. Follow the format that they expect you to follow and they’ll be better able to focus on the content of the memorandum.
Creating a document with this specific format will also make the document easily identifiable as a memorandum of law. In a professional, formal work environment, good communication is essential. Following the format of a memorandum makes communication easier and more clear.
Learning how to effectively craft this formal document properly is an important stepping stone in learning how to craft an effective legal strategy.
Following the format of a legal memorandum will help both you and your reader stay organized. When you put information where the reader expects to find it, they can quickly and easily revisit your argument and the facts supporting it. And, just as importantly, it will be easy to identify when a section or argument needs work. After all, the purpose of a legal memorandum is to develop a strong legal strategy. That means identifying both the strengths and weaknesses of the case.
Being organized is essential to your success as a lawyer. With all of the paperwork involved in a court case, you need to be able to identify your documents and find the necessary information within them quickly and efficiently.
When the document is formatted correctly, you’ll be able to find your legal memorandum among other papers easily, scan through it for the section that you need to reference, and then find the fact or item that you are looking for in seconds.
Like staying organized, the format of the document can also help you ensure that your argument and research are comprehensive. As mentioned earlier, the format is designed to lead the reader through your argument step by step. Following the format is a bit like following a checklist. By including all of the necessary sections in the correct order, you know that all of the essential pieces of your argument are present.
Without proper formatting, it can be difficult to follow your own argument. You may lose track of which points are backed with legal facts and which arguments are underdeveloped. Others who read your memorandum may also have a hard time helping you to develop your legal strategy because they can’t tell which areas need work.
The ultimate purpose of a legal memorandum is to create a foundation for a strong legal strategy. If you have weak spots, you need to be made aware of them early so that they do not become a larger issue during the case. Following the format diligently will help you identify those weak spots and prepare for them before they become a problem.
The specific order of sections in a memorandum of law is designed to lead the reader through your argument in the most efficient and logical way. You start by bringing up the questions that need to be answered in the case. You follow that up with brief answers to those questions, then move on to deeper facts, engage in a thorough discussion of why those facts are relevant to the case, and, at the end of the memorandum, you wrap it all up in a summarizing conclusion.
When you follow this specific structure, your reader can easily follow your train of thought. If you’re jumping from point to point, have a bit of a discussion, bring in a new fact, discuss some more, answer a different question, and then circle back around to summarize, you’re going to lose your reader. They won’t be able to understand your argument. They’ll glance over important aspects of the case. They may have a completely different takeaway than you had hoped.
The main benefit of the format is that it’s a tried and true formula. Lawyers have used this formula to communicate and strategize with each other for a long time. Use the format to your advantage so that you can craft the most effective legal strategy.
Formatting is anything but arbitrary when it comes to a memorandum of law. The memorandum will serve as the foundation of the argument that you build to win a case. Putting in the necessary time and effort to create a well-crafted document will be beneficial to your success. By following the prescribed format, you will convey professionalism and stay organized as you build a comprehensive and persuasive argument. Being diligent about formatting your legal memorandums will only make your job easier down the road, so give it the attention that it deserves.