Drafting a Law Office Memorandum

The following documents offer some suggestions for drafting a predictive legal analysis. The suggested format for a law office memorandum, structure for a working draft, a sample memorandum, and an advanced sample memorandum exemplify a conventional structure, highlighting a specific legal question and its answer, followed by a recitation of legally significant facts - the facts upon which resolution of the legal question depends - and a discussion section that identifies the applicable legal rule, applies it to the facts of the case, and addresses likely counterarguments to the principal line of analysis.

Some law offices adopt their own format for a memorandum which may differ in some respects from the examples we have provided. When in doubt, follow the conventions chosen by the office in which you are working. Even within the suggested format that we offer here, it is permissible and often appropriate to make choices - on how to frame the legal question, on the level of detail to include in the facts section, on the organization and scope of the legal discussion. There is no single version of a memorandum that will serve all situations. The choices you make will be informed by the nature and level of complexity of the legal question, and the preferences of your intended audience, including your reader's expected level of familiarity with the underlying area of law under discussion. At the same time, it bears emphasis that the reader for whom you prepare the memorandum may be only one of several attorneys who will consult the memo, particularly if the legal question becomes the subject of litigation. As the list of writer's questions included here suggests, keeping the needs and expectations of your (possibly extended) audience in mind is a key component of drafting an effective office memorandum.