This is dedicated to my fellow 1Ls.
[This section should be one sentence. Why? Because. When creating this one sentence with seven subordinate clauses, please keep in mind that conciseness is important. Grammatical correctness is also important, except for the part where you can begin a sentence with “Whether.”]
Whether Wally Wasp’s work product is a memo under 1L education law when it incessantly repeats itself, contains a total of 43 words repeated in differing patterns, and nearly half of the word count is comprised of citations?
[This section is here because nobody wants to read your analysis and will immediately skip to the conclusion. It should contain a one or two-word answer, followed by a reference to a few of the most dispositive facts.]
Yes/No/Probably yes/Probably no. Wally’s work product is painfully boring where it repeats bland phrases more than the democratic and republican Congressional caucuses combined, and is impeccably formatted.
[Introduce the characters in your legal drama. Though there had better not be any drama. Write everything in the driest possible phrasing and voice. If this section is in any way interesting, you have failed. A good facts section will provide a boredom buffer for the analysis section of your memo. For example, if the reader somehow survived the Question Presented and Brief Answer sections without skipping to the Conclusion, this is your chance to wear them down. If the reader can get through this section and move directly into the Analysis without checking facebook or thumbing that rough spot of skin on their forefinger for five or more minutes, you have failed.]
Wally WASP, a graduate of Mediocre University, loves the written word, history, and the way that the law puts off an aura of imposing power and majesty – like a religion. It was for these reasons that he chose to pursue law school: Wally was set up for disappointment.
His first writing assignment was a memo analyzing “spoliation” as applied to a discovery request for an unconsented-to transcript of a private conversation that was sent via SMS from a Blackberry paid for by an out of state corporation over what was thought to be a public wifi network operated by AT&T at an ABP, but was in reality a poorly secured FBI hotspot from a mobile command that had stopped by to pick up breadbowls of broccoli cheddar soup that were subsequently used in a particularly clever plot to skirt the ban on “water” boarding. In analyzing this arcane discovery issue, Wally put in his usual effort to keep cadence fluid and interesting. He sought out interesting policy questions and looked into the historical judicial opinions on the conflicts over security and freedom, new communications and information technologies, jurisdictional reach, and executive privilege.
Wally did not do well on his first paper. When told to “be creative,” Wally had apparently missed the inherent ambiguity in law school instructions. His artful styling was berated for introducing ambiguity and not using “terms of art.” His investigations into the history of the problem were deemed superfluous and distracting. As to format, the criticisms were focused on his lack of repetition. A 3L graciously explained to a distraught Wally that the legal profession causes extensive brain damage over the course of many years (thought to be related to stress and the hippocampus) and most partners end up with the short-term memory of rodentia.
Disillusioned and downtrodden, Wally is inexplicably committed to succeeding in writing something awful. A shell of his former self, failure may mean a total collapse of his self-worth and a descent into nihilism.
[This is the part of your memo in which you will invest the most time, effort, and care. Consequently, it is also the part that you are expecting people to skip. Life is futile. Your audience has already forgotten the jurisdiction, so write it, and the legal question, again. Next comes the must/when/where/if part. Here you will want a semi-colonic extravaganza broken up by parenthetical numbers, letters, roman numerals, or hieroglyphs. Put terms of art from the cited authority in quotes. Why are they called “terms of art?” Because of the sad denial of aspiring novelists and poets turned legal writers: the irony is unintended. Also, your roadmap should be a single sentence. Why? Stop asking why. Don’t forget to cite some authority!]
Under 1L law, a legal memo must (1) be “totally uninteresting” – like Kansas; (2) mechanically formatted; (3) endlessly repetitive, like cable news; (4) “devoid of creativity” in word choice or phrasing, as defined by the Twilight standard; and (5) “anally satisfy the Bluebook authors” requirements. In re Academic Constipation, ## P.U. ###, ### (The Day the Music Died).
[#. Use the exact same language as you used in the roadmap above. If you change it, your supposedly brilliant audience will immediately become lost and begin to cry.]
1. Totally Uninteresting
[Begin with a conclusory topic sentence: you will be repeating this. Follow with a synthesized rule stating when condition (1), which has now been stated three times in the past 8 lines, is met. Wrap this up with another case citation preceded by the “see” signal. Use “see” because it gives you more flexibility from the actual law and you have already internalized lawerly risk-aversion. Important: The underline must not continue through the space between “see” and the case name. If it does, you will lose credibility with your readers. Why? Because formalism is all that matters. Why? Because the legal profession is full of uptight jerkwads. Why? Because the last generation of lawyers were uptight jerkwads. Why? Because all of mankind’s attempts at the codification and systematic administration of moral systems inevitably result in dogmatic formalism. Why?!? Geez! Because our evolutionary instincts compel us to seek a talisman around which to organize social groupings, and principles, being non-physical and vague in nature, are only communicable en-masse when represented by symbolic institutions that society can more easily invest themselves in, and in doing so said institutions become self-reinforcing, culturally embedded, and only tangentially connected to the genitive principles from whence they came. Why? Shut up.]
Wally’s memo is totally uninteresting because it has put his mother into guilt-ridden depression. A legal memo is sufficiently uninteresting when (a) the writer’s loved ones are unable to finish reading it in one sitting or (b) feel proud of the writer upon completion. See I Like Big Ass’n v. Butts, ### Not.A.Hyperlink ##, ## (the past). Contra Is a Classic Game v. Overrated ### X.K.C.d ###, ### (the future).
[Next, it’s time to introduce the facts of the case from which you pulled the rule. Ignore the nuances that likely drove the 1950’s court that made the ruling - the respondent’s race or sex for example - and focus on the facts that won’t make people uncomfortable. End with a citation for the comparison case in short form. Simply use Bluebook Rules 10.2.1(a through k), 10.2.2 (abbreviations in T6 and T10), 10.9(a)(i & ii), and 10.9(b) (referencing 4.2). These rules are there to prevent you and your readers from becoming confused. Seriously.]
In Butts, the facts are generally icky. Butts at ##.
[Now you describe your case in a structure that is parallel to the one that you used for the comparison case. Parallelism, like racism and other -isms, is evil. However, the rhythm and repetition inherent in parallel structure is porn for lawyers. Roadmap, Issue, Rule…Analysis, Conclusion, Mini-Roadmap, Issue-Rule, Analysis, ConcluUuUusion, mini-conclusion (for respite), IsssuuUEEEee, Ru-OMG-le, ANAL(just kidding)ysis, ConCLUsion, issueruleanalysisconclusion, issueruleanalysisconclusion, issueruleanalysisconclusion, issOOHGroDleanalysissisisisisconcLUSION, BIGGGG CONCLUSSSSIONnn-n—n-nn… Sleep.]
Legally (not realistically) related to Butts, Wally’s mother is heavyset. More to the point, she wears a fierce pair of rose colored Wally-glasses. She has sat through countless tee ball games, many an ill-advised auquamarine-sequened-cumberbun-clad show choir “performance,” and a particularly blasphemous rendition of Hamlet. Through each of these experiences, she has steadfastly professed that “her Wally-kins is terrific!” This all changed, however, when she was given her pride and joy’s draft final memo to read. Wally’s father reports that she tried seven times to read through the eight page double-spaced, 2,198-word document. Mrs. WASP is now being treated for guilt related depression because she believes she “doesn’t love her son enough. Oh by the way, he’s in law school, would you like to see a picture? So handsome! Here’s a picture of him at the beach … .” This is where you repeat the conclusion from the topic sentence.
[Repeat for remaining elements]
I would soldier on, but at 1,500 words this has eaten up enough time that I should have spent writing my actual memo. Also, I can’t imagine anyone would really make it through another 1,000 words of this crap. In closing, I offer a disclaimer (hooray risk-aversion). This was a rant, and it felt good. It is not meant as crack on any LRW professor. Actually, my LRW professor is infectiously ebullient and an all-round nice guy – and his hair is awesome. Likewise, the Bluebook writers are also … Ah, screw it. They suck.