How To Write A Legal Memorandum

A legal memorandum is a written document that’s used to informally present an argument. The memorandum can be used in court, before judges and juries, or by lawyers who are trying to decide how to proceed with a case. You may have already seen legal memorandums but didn’t recognize them because they aren’t always labeled as such.

In this article, I’ll explain what legal memorandums are and how you can use them in your own life as both a writer and a lawyer. Plus, I’ll show you some examples from real cases that might be helpful when you’re writing your memos!

Writing a Legal Memo – YouTube
Understand the purpose of a legal memorandum.
Follow a structured format for organization.
Prioritize clarity and concise language.
Incorporate relevant legal precedent.
Ensure accuracy through thorough research.

Who Is The Client?

When writing a legal memorandum, it is important to know who is your client. The client is the person who is paying you for your work. 

Your client can be any person or entity who has asked you to write this memo and will receive it after completion. In addition, the client may also give feedback on the memo, which could be positive or negative depending on how well you performed your duties.

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Who Are You Writing For?

The first thing you need to do is determine who your memo is for. This may seem obvious, but there are a few different audiences that you’ll want to think about before writing your memo. The most obvious audience is the client, who will be reading your memo and informing decisions based on its recommendations. 

The client’s lawyer will also read it, but they’re less concerned with whether it’s written in good style than they are interested in getting accurate information from you so they can advise their client appropriately.

The executive team at your firm should also get copies of all legal memos because they’ll want to be aware of any issues or risks facing the company so that they can make informed decisions about operations and strategy and these memos are often shared with other stakeholders as well (e.g., investors).

What Is The Purpose Of The Memo?

So, before you set out to write a memo, it’s important to understand what purpose it serves. A legal memorandum is designed to inform your client of your findings and conclusions. 

In addition, it allows them a chance to review your findings and ask questions about anything they don’t understand or want more information on. Further still, the memo allows the client to get their input into the case and let you know if they agree with your findings so far.

The memo also lets clients provide feedback on how well-written and thorough the document is as well as if there are any mistakes in grammar or spelling (which we all make!). 

Finally, memos allow for communication between lawyers who disagree about something important within their case like whether or not there was an escape attempt by one of our clients during jury selection!

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How Does This Relate To Our Overall Project?

This memo is the first piece of work you will prepare for this client. It will serve as a template for future memos, so it’s important to get it right. The client has asked you to write an analysis of their current business situation and present your recommendations for how they can improve their operations. 

You have also been asked to include references or citations for any information included in your memo (that way, if the client wants more information about something that was mentioned in your memo, they can easily find it).

To complete this memo successfully, here are some things you should keep in mind:

Make sure that what’s written reflects exactly what was discussed with the client during our meeting last week (you were there too). If anything seems unclear or confusing don’t hesitate! Ask me if anything needs clarifying before going ahead with writing up my thoughts on this topic into a full-fledged legal memorandum format.”

What’s Your Conclusion?

You’ve done your research. You’ve read the briefs, talked to the client, and researched relevant case law. It’s time to write your legal memorandum. Now what?

The conclusion is where you pull everything together and tie a bow around it all. The conclusion is where you bring together your analysis of law, facts, and client expectations into one coherent statement of how you think things should be decided in this case (or if there are really no issues for decision). As such, your conclusion should be based on:

  • The facts as found by the court or by agreement between parties;
  • The applicable law (state or federal); and/or

Any special circumstances surrounding this particular case that may not be present in other cases involving similar legal questions or issues under consideration by courts when deciding whether an issue was properly submitted for arbitration or not.[1]

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What Assumptions Have You Made For Your Memo?

You should write down any assumptions that you have made. By doing so, you can explain how and why you arrived at your conclusions.

For example, if you are writing a memo about the legal rights of employees, one assumption may be that an employer is required to pay its employees for all hours worked. Another assumption may be that an employee who does not work 40 hours in a week does not have the right to receive overtime pay for those hours. 

These two assumptions lead to a conclusion that an employee who works fewer than 40 hours per week is not entitled under law to receive overtime pay for any hours worked beyond 40 during the week in question.

If Your Conclusion Differs From Your Client’s Expectations, Explain It

If your conclusion differs from your client’s expectations, explain why you think it is correct. Explain why your conclusion differs from the client’s expectations, and whether or not their expectations were reasonable. Then explain how you arrived at your conclusion, including the ethical considerations that went into the decision-making process.

Is It Ethically Possible To Reach The Conclusion You’re Reaching?

Ethical issues are important in a memorandum. What are the ethical issues for your memo? How do you know if you’re ethically okay?

The first step to avoiding an ethical issue is knowing what to look for. Think about topics that might be controversial or touch on people’s feelings, and make sure that you have a good reason for including them. 

For example, if your client asked you to write a memorandum about whether they should buy a new car, you would want to check that no one else owns the car dealership that makes the cars they want before including it in your memo. 

If other companies made similar cars nearby, then mentioning their competitor could be considered as advertising for them and possibly lead somebody else who owns part of this company/car dealership into conflict with someone over it (like perhaps another shareholder).

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What Gaps In Your Research Do You Still Need To Fill In Before Sending The Memorandum To Your Client?

Once you’ve done your research and read through the case law, you will have a clearer picture of how to proceed. But there may still be gaps in your knowledge that need to be filled before you can send your memorandum to the client.

How do you know if there are still gaps? One way is by asking yourself questions like: what if [insert question here] happens? What would happen then? How does this apply to my client’s case? If I were on the other side of this argument, what would I do now?

If you don’t know the answer, use some of these methods for finding out:

Talk with someone who has experience with similar cases a legal assistant from another law firm or a friend who does criminal defense work may have valuable insight into how things typically play out for defendants charged with similar crimes.

Find an expert who has written about this topic there are many books written by lawyers and professors that can give useful advice or information on how courts tend to rule on certain issues. 

You could also consult online legal databases such as LexisNexis Academic or WestlawNext Academic, which provide access to many different types of legal materials (including court opinions) via subscription services such as ProQuest or BNA Premier respectively

What Experience Do You Have With The Relevant Facts Or Issues?

The next question you should ask yourself is: what experience do you have with the relevant facts or issues?

It’s important to let your reader know that you’re knowledgeable about the subject at hand because this will give them confidence in your ability to write a competent legal memorandum. If any sources of knowledge will help strengthen your position (or weaken an opposing one), include those as well!

Have You Spoken Directly With The Client About These Issues?

To write a legal memorandum, you must have a conversation with the client about their expectations. Your client may want you to focus on one specific issue, whereas another person would be interested in other parts of the memo.

You should also talk about the legal issues that are included in the memo and whether there are still any questions about them. The same goes for ethical issues and gaps in your research: if there are any gaps in your knowledge or research, it is good practice to admit this openly at this stage so that it does not come as a surprise later on when someone reads your memo!

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If you want to write a legal memorandum that will keep your client happy, you’ll need to do some careful research and make sure that your argument is sound. 

The best way to do this is by reading all of the relevant materials carefully and making sure there are no gaps in your knowledge. You should also find out what the client expects from the memo before sending it off, so you can avoid any potential problems later on down the road!

Further Reading

Here are some additional resources to help you dive deeper into the topic of writing legal memorandums:

How to Write a Legal Memorandum for Dummies: A beginner-friendly guide that breaks down the process of crafting a legal memorandum in simple steps.

Legal Writing: Memorandum Guide: CUNY School of Law offers a comprehensive guide on writing effective legal memorandums, providing detailed insights and examples.

Jean Mangan’s Book on Legal Writing: This resource delves into legal writing strategies, including a section on creating impactful legal memorandums.


Here are some common questions related to writing legal memorandums, along with their answers:

What is the purpose of a legal memorandum?

A legal memorandum serves as an objective analysis of a legal issue, providing research, analysis, and conclusions to guide decision-making.

How should I structure a legal memorandum?

A standard legal memorandum typically follows a format of heading, issue presented, short answer, statement of facts, discussion/analysis, conclusion, and legal research.

Can you provide tips for improving the clarity of my legal memorandum?

Certainly! Use clear and concise language, organize your points logically, and avoid jargon that might confuse your readers who may not be legal experts.

How do I incorporate legal precedent into my memorandum?

When discussing legal precedents, refer to relevant cases, statutes, or regulations. Analyze how these precedents apply to your current legal issue.

How can I ensure the accuracy of my legal research in a memorandum?

Thoroughly verify your sources and use reputable legal databases. Cross-reference information and cite primary sources to maintain credibility.