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FIRST YEAR FRIDAY - Research Skills (Summer Clerkship)

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FIRST YEAR FRIDAY - Research Skills (Summer Clerkship)

  1. 1. FIRST YEAR FRIDAY HOW TO SUCCEED AT YOUR SUMMER JOB
  2. 2. INTRODUCTION • Greg Cohen– Former litigator with the law firm of Robinson & Wood in San Jose. • Ellen Platt– Attorney and Research Librarian at Santa Clara University School of Law • Jocelyn Stilwell - Librarian, Sixth Appellate District Court of Appeals
  3. 3. EXPECTATIONS • In a recent survey of 160 legal employers regarding their expectations of new legal writers (law school students and recent grads), the following responses were provided: • After the first year of law school, 91% of employers expected law students to be able write a legal memo with minimal supervision. • After the second year of law school, 58% of employers expected law students to be able to write a client letter with minimal supervision, and 57% of employers expected law students to be able to write a motion with minimal supervision.
  4. 4. EXPECTATIONS • By the time you graduate, the % of employers will expect you to be able to write the following with minimal supervision: • 93%: office memos • 78%: motions • 77%: client letters • 69%: pleadings • 69%: discovery documents (interrogatories, etc.) • 65%: orders • 65%: trial briefs • 59%: demand letters • 56%: appellate briefs • As you can see, there is a very big jump between your first year and the time you graduate as to what will be expected of you as a new lawyer. Therefore, the skills that you learn this summer and next will be crucial to your development as attorneys.
  5. 5. THE ASSIGNMENT • You receive an email from your supervising attorney containing the following assignment: • “Our firm represents the Defendant in a breach of contract action. We propounded special interrogatories on Plaintiff. Plaintiff provided his responses, but they were not code compliant. After a series of meet and confer efforts, we would like to compel Plaintiff’s further responses to the special interrogatories. Therefore, I would like to know how much time we have from the service of Plaintiff’s responses to move to compel the answers and what will we need to provide in support of the motion? Please respond to me by next Monday”
  6. 6. WHERE DO I BEGIN? • Ask your supervising attorney for clarification. • Follow up questions: in the middle of your research, you’re always going to run into more questions. They may be legal, they may relate to the fact set, but you will have questions during the research process! Figure out who to go to with those questions – your partner, one of the associates, etc. Also ask how they’d like to be contacted. • Prepare a game-plan as to how you will attack the assignment: • What are the issues that I need to address?: – Timing to file and information required in support of motion. • How do I find the applicable statutory codes and law?: – Go to the Code of Civil Procedure and California Rules of Court – Go to a Practice Guide – Legal Research on Lexis, Bloomberg or Westlaw
  7. 7. RESEARCH OPTIONS • Library Resources • Goal 1: Figure out where to go to get background on an area of legal research quickly: – CalJur, Witkin, Rutter Guides. • Goal 2: Learn about the secondary sources for the area of law your firm practices in: – If you’re practicing trademark law, you should get familiar with your resources in print (at the firm and at SCU), as well as all the resources on the online providers. Don’t stop with Lexis or Westlaw – some of the best materials are from specialty publishers! • Goal 3: Take notes on what you use as you use it: this is necessary to show due diligence. Don’t forget to talk to your HUMAN resources, too! Librarians, associates, partners, etc. – Firms often have in-house materials such as example briefs and existing work product that is very useful. It’s worth asking your librarian about these resources (if the firm has one) or the other associates.
  8. 8. RESEARCH OPTIONS • California Code of Civil Procedure • Look to index and search for key terms. Code of Civil Procedure Section 2030.010, 2030.300 and 2016.040 • California Rules of Court • California Rules of Court Rule 3.1345 • California Practice Guide • Index search for “special interrogatories” “motion to compel” • Find appropriate sections regarding motions to compel further responses to special interrogatories.
  9. 9. RESEARCH OPTIONS • On-Line Legal Research • Westlaw, Lexis and Bloomberg. • Shepardize codes for cases related to the issues. • Perform legal research by searching for issues. • Use of your Westlaw passwords is restricted to the following purposes: • Summer law school classes and study abroad programs. • Law review and journal, including write-on competitions. • Research assistant. • Moot court. • Unpaid internship/externship. • If you are being paid for your summer clerkship, you may not use your educational Westlaw password for work.
  10. 10. WRITING THE MOTION • Ask other attorneys in the office for examples. • Brief Banks: Most firms will provide access to all prior motions and briefs prepared by members of the firm. • MISTAKE TRAP: Although these briefs can provide an outline as to the structure of the motion, do not blindly rely on the contents therein. Each case has its own specific facts and issues, and although a case may seem on-point, always Shepardize those cases to make sure that they remain good law.
  11. 11. WRITING THE MOTION • Review file for all needed evidence. • Make sure you have the required discovery, responses, correspondence, etc. • Make an outline. • Write down each of the different sections you will need in the motion. • Write down the evidence you will be using. • Write down the law you will be using.
  12. 12. WRITING THE MOTION • DO NOT FORGET TO PROOFREAD!!! • In the recent study, when the same 160 employers were asked about their expectations v. the actual abilities of new legal writers, the majority of those employers found a stark contrast between their high expectations of students’ and recent graduates’ proofreading abilities and the actual abilities of these writers to thoroughly proofread their work. The majority of employers were disappointed.
  13. 13. EVALUATION • You may receive a copy of your motion back from your supervising attorney with numerous edits and requested changes. • Do not be shy about asking your supervising attorney for guidance regarding the requested changes. • Also, do not become discouraged if there are a lot of changes requested. You are learning, and your supervising attorney should understand this. Use the critique to become a better writer and advocate.
  14. 14. COST CONSTRAINTS • How much time you spend on something isn’t just “What is due?” It’s also “How long should this take?” You’ll be billing your time to a client, and being responsible about keeping track of your time starts now. – However, do not cut your own time. Bill what it takes you to complete your assignment, and let your supervisor make any necessary reductions. • Resources: using Lexis and Westlaw costs money. Always start your research with a print collection, even if it’s tiny. Make sure you understand how billing works on these resources and gain an understanding as to what on-line research is covered in your firm’s plan.

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