Writing the Persuasive Memorandum (Part 1)

Often it is necessary to write a persuasive memorandum of points and authorities (of law) to support a motion or OSC (order to show cause).  In preparing to do the memorandum, the paralegal must first do the research.  Based on the assignment given by the supervising attorney, the paralegal must answer the following questions:

What is the jurisdiction?  (State or Federal)

What is the area of law?  (Civil or Criminal)

What is the specific area of law involve?

  • Some possibilities are:
  1. tort law, which includes personal injury, negligence, intentional conduct and strict liability;
  2. contract law;
  3. probate law, which includes decedent’s estates, guardianships and conservatorships; and
  4. family law, which includes divorce, custody, visitation and property division.

Having determined the area of law, the paralegal can begin to research the legal issue using both primary and secondary sources.  Secondary sources can be used to help the researcher understand a particular area of law.  Secondary resources can also provide citations for primary sources of law such as statutes and judicial opinions.

Primary sources are essential.  The legal reasoning and argument in the memorandum needs to be based on primary sources which are binding.  A discussion of binding and persuasive authority will be in an upcoming blog post.

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