How to Write a Legal Memorandum

Written by J. Hirby | Fact checked by The Law Dictionary staff |  

Legal memorandums form the basis of communications in the attorney profession. These documents can be used in different contexts, and the most common among them is to deliver a legal opinion to clients with regard to the issues and merits of a case.

The intended readers of legal memorandums may not always be clients; they may be also be associate attorneys, partners, or colleagues. In some cases, an attorney may be called upon to write a legal memorandum addressed to the court. The first step consists of defining the purpose of the memo, which can be written as part of a strategy to advise a client, to prepare a legal team for a trial, to ask for an opinion, or as part of a pleading.

The Legal Memorandum Writing Process

Proper research is the most important aspect of the legal writing process, and it should always be thoroughly accomplished prior to sitting down to write a legal memorandum. The next step is to settle on a format. Here are the sections found in the most typical format layout of legal memorandums:

- Writer's Heading
- Legal Issue
- Answer
- Statement of Facts
- Discussion
- Conclusion

The next step is to settle on a truly logical pattern that allows the reader to comprehend the argument. This means that attorneys should not simply write their recollection of events; they should rather persuade the reader to understand the details of the case and how the law relates or applies to them.

The heading should include sufficient contact information about the writer and intended reader in addition to a one-line descriptor of the case. Since each case is bound to produce multiple legal memorandums, it is always a good idea to establish a numbering sequence in the heading.

The legal issue is written in the form of a question that is answered in the following section. The statement of facts refers to the objective presentation of information provided by the client. The discussion that follows the statement of facts should describe the law as it applies to the case, and it should also state the pros and cons of at least one legal strategy.

The conclusion in a legal memorandum can be merged with the statement of facts, although readers would appreciate a conclusion that summarizes the entire document and outlines the legal analysis in a couple of sentences.

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