A legal report, also called a legal memorandum or memo, is a document that provides an analysis or an evaluation of a legal matter or a case.
Typically, these reports are written by practicing lawyers, law professionals, and students in law school (for practice). They’re used to convey factual, legal information.
A legal report has different components and rules depending on the intended purpose and audience.
Do’s & Don’ts of Legal Writing
Do cross-check the facts of the case. Don’t rely on your memory if you’re unsure about something.
Do pay close attention to grammar and verb tenses.
Do use an active voice. Active voice is more precise and more natural than passive voice.
Do make use of Oxford commas.
Do use transitional words. Words like simultaneously, subsequently, besides, finally, and likewise are some examples of transition words.
Do keep your audience in mind. The specific format of the report can vary based on the intended audience. Are you presenting a persuasive argument in court? Or are you informing your client about the case?
Don’t use contractions. Steer clear of shortened terms.
Don’t forget to add footnotes and cite your sources correctly.
Don’t confuse gendered terminologies. When there’s no context or reference to a single gender, keep it neutral.
Don’t use double negatives. While double negation is prevalent in many vernaculars, it leads to confusion and inaccuracy.
Don’t miss deadlines. Failing to adhere to deadlines could reflect negatively on your reputation. It’s not worth the risk.
Don’t be afraid to ask for assistance. If you’re writing a legal report for a college assignment, take help from professional essay writers for hire who can guide you on the best formats and legal writing styles.
Structure & Prep Work
There are plenty of sample legal reports available to view for free online and in public libraries. If you don’t have access to them, ask your professor to share some references with you.
You’ll have a more accurate conception of the structure and language to use when you have examples.
Every essay begins with a plan. Start by preparing a draft of the report.
Understand the purpose of the report. Who is the audience?
Next, gather all relevant information. Accustom yourself to the matter at hand.
After evaluating the pieces of information, outline the key topics of discussion and the main questions and arguments. Make flow charts to organize your facts so you can access them easily.
Once you have everything in order, proceed to write your report. If you’re in school, follow the set of guidelines provided by your instructor.
Here are the components of a standard legal report:
The heading or the title page of your report must contain the case title in capital letters, the name of the author, the recipient, and the date of completion of said report.
Use formal or traditional fonts like New Times Roman, Helvetica, and Arial with single spacing, unless instructed otherwise.
Don’t exceed the 12 font size limit for the main body.
The ‘Question Presented’ Section
The first section of your report consists of detailed statements, supported by facts, that feature the legal question or conflict to be evaluated. There should be enough facts to contextualize the question.
As the name states, the question presented should be in the format of a question that ends with a question mark. It should be one sentence. There shouldn’t be a response to it.
In case multiple questions are presented, number and list them according to the order of issues in the ‘analysis’ section.
Always research the law and make sure it’s applicable before formulating your memo. The law must pertain to the legal issue at and.
The ‘Brief Answer’ Section
After the legal issue has been identified in the ‘question presented’ section, this section contains the answer to it.
This shouldn’t include any extra details about the conflict. Your response should suggest a resolution that is supported by the relevant laws.
The first sentence must be short, concise, and precise. It should start by concluding your answer (for example: Yes, No) to the question.
In the case of more than one brief answer, number and list them in the same order as done in the ‘question presented’ section.
The ‘Statement of Facts’ Section
This is the part where all the minute factual details of the issue lie.
The statement of facts is the client’s narrative. It gives the readers an explanation of why the matter is brought up in a court of law.
It should include all the background facts of the case; even the less favorable ones. Use the names of the parties involved consistently to avoid confusion.
The facts should be presented in an organized manner. Begin with an introduction, followed by the main body and the procedure, especially when your report is an objective one.
If your report is supposed to be persuasive, it is better to address the details from the client’s perspective. This is to be written in the third person.
Strictly avoid dramatizations, exaggerations, and conclusions.
The ‘Discussion’ or ‘Analysis’ Section
In the ‘discussion’ section of the report, the question posed, brief answer(s), and statement of facts come together.
Here is when your input makes space for itself.
After a thorough breakdown of the facts, envision the most probable outcome of the case. Base it on your research and judgment. Back your arguments up with legitimate laws.
If you reference other cases similar to the one discussed in the report, instantly make connections between them.
Make sure your work is well-researched, has an objective, and is specific and easy to understand. Don’t get too creative or write in subtext.
More often, the conclusion is what catches the reader’s eye the most.
The concluding section of your memo should showcase your ability to predict a reasonable outcome.
Here, you can be strategic and focus on the result you want.
Don’t introduce any new angles or arguments or repeat your analysis. Avoid ambiguity and hesitance in your sentences.
You should appear confident even if you don’t feel so.
Revise & Edit!
Proofread the document thoroughly. Ask a classmate or a colleague for feedback. Try to improve the readability of your report. While editing, keep in mind to use concise language.
In the end, cross-check all facts like names, numbers, dates, etc. You can’t afford to make factual errors in a legal report at any cost.