Friday, December 08, 2006


Do I feel like I'm so very busy and so very stressed out when in fact, if anything, this week I've billed *less* hours than I usually do, and have been *way* less productive?

I bet it's because I'm working on a freaking legal memo. Legal memos are like my kryptonite. At least since my Evil Legal Writing instructor (she's somehow related to Satan) absolutely ruined any desire whatsoever that I ever may have had to do legal writing.

Seriously, this is like the first "serious" memo I've had to write since I started working here almost a year and a half ago... I've had a couple other formal memos but they've been... I dunno... less formal somehow?

I feel like I'm in legal writing class all over again. And I fucking HATED that class.

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At December 8, 2006 at 9:47 AM, Blogger T said...

Quick! Find two things on your firm's system. First, a memo dealing with the same issue you are writing about (there's always at least one - this isn't rocket science) and, second, a memo written by the assigning partner's favorite associate, or by the associate him/herself if they assigned you the memo. Then blend. Add more citations, because they don't trust you yet.

And you're done :)

At December 8, 2006 at 12:09 PM, Blogger The Law Fairy said...

hahahahaha, nice.

I'm too terrified to do that, unfortunately, and anyway the memo's pretty much written anyway. I just need to edit/maybe add a bit here or there, but it's mostly done. Really, it's the fear of doing it more than the doing it itself. "Fear" really isn't even the right word... "dread" might be more appropriate.

I don't think the partner *has* a favorite associate...

At December 8, 2006 at 12:24 PM, Blogger jrav said...

i'm not an attorney, but i've worked for them long enough to understand.

plus, i'm a master's student in english with a thesis hanging unwritten over my head so i completely understand.

it's the weight of the blank page, heavy, constant, and pressing...

At December 8, 2006 at 12:27 PM, Blogger jrav said...

whoa - that looked really dark and depressing once it was published.

suffice it to say, i get it. no head in the oven here, but i get it.

at least you're billing.

my boss, well, we won't get into that -

At December 8, 2006 at 12:50 PM, Blogger T said...

Too terrified to try my patented tried and true law memo writing method? Hmmm, what do you see that I don't? ;)

In any event, the partner must have approved at least a few research memos in the past - you can look to them for guidance as to form and style. While I was being somewhat facetious, prior memos can be extremely helpful, as lawyers rarely want to see a well drafted memo, when the other choice is a memo that might be technically poorly drafted, but written in their own style.

You can also ask another associate if you can quickly run it past them for style - unless they are an ass, they will be happy to help, and then you can hopefully avoid some of the mistakes they made in their first few memos for the partner.

At December 9, 2006 at 1:55 PM, Blogger Drewcatt said...

You see LF, that's why you simply hire the memo fairies to write them for you.

Saves you the stress and the angst, and all it costs you is Skittles.

At December 11, 2006 at 9:16 PM, Blogger heartinsanfrancisco said...

You feel very busy and stressed out because you're faced with a task you don't want to do.

Maybe if you focus on the subject matter instead of the form, it will be easier. You have no trouble expressing yourself in writing otherwise, so just make your points and don't be tyrannized by the fact that it's a freaking legal memo.

At December 13, 2006 at 12:21 PM, Anonymous Leif said...

I don't know who this Grand Niece of Satan is, but my instructor was pretty okay. I had the additional fortune of a kindly employer who beat out of me almost all of le garbazh that I absorbed from law school. The basic points: 1. Write like a normal person, because even lawyers hate to read stuff written by lawyers. 2. Get to the point first, then tell them how you got there.
This guy's good, too:

At December 13, 2006 at 5:06 PM, Blogger The Law Fairy said...

Thanks all for the tips.

The memo is done and turned in, and I've moved onto... yet another research project.

Shit. Is this gonna be a pattern?

I think part of the problem is, like Leif alluded to, I found my school's LRW program to be quite stifling. Essentially (with my instructor, at least) it was a question of whether I could make the instructor think it looked like something she'd write. If it did, I'd get a good grade. If it didn't (and it didn't) she deemed it "bad" and refused to give me any real help. Leif, I will be MORE than happy to regale you with tales of the She-Demon next time I see you :)

Although in fairness, I guess she was only preparing me for future encounters with the massive ego trip that is partnership in a major law firm. It's only "good" if it's the way they like it... ah well.

Perhaps law school really *does* teach something about lawyering, after all ;)


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