A legal memo is used to give information about the particulars of a specific case. It is a record of what is being done with a case and how it is being handled. It is a way for a lawyer or paralegal to update the firm about something.
It’s not that difficult to write a legal memo as long as you remain factual. Here are a few things to keep in mind when writing a legal memo.
- Determine if the memo you are making is for internal use or for external use. Internal memos will be directed for people within the firm only, such as your employer or partner in the firm. An external memo may be a brief or memoranda of points and authorities. External memos are usually sent to the courts or the judge.
- Make your header. Type in the date, whom the memo is written for and who the memo is from. You must also have a subject line, such as Case Number 0001, Jones vs. Smith so the recipient will know what the memo is about. It’s important to have the case file number for easy reference.
- Be straight to the point when discussing the legal issues of the case. State an overview of the case. You may immediately start off by saying what the memo is about. Put the most important information first.
- Be factual. Your memo should start off with a statement of facts and issues regarding the case. If there has been a decision regarding the case, you may state that as well.
- Be consistent. You must have supporting data and enough relevant facts to support your statement. You must have logical reasoning to arrive at your conclusion. For example, if you have a case wherein your client is asking for monetary compensation, your memo should cite what the offense was, the details of the event, plus any resulting damages the client incurred as a result of the defendant’s actions. You may itemize how much the client incurred in lost wages, future earning potential as well as medical bills. Then you may reference what law the particular case falls under and explain how it pertains to the specifics of the case.
- List sources if possible. You may include precedent cases as a reference.
- Make an analysis if applicable. For example, you may discuss the merits of the case or any suggestions on how to approach it. You may also include if you have a particular attorney whom you would like to add to the legal team to get the best possible outcome. This is where your reasoning should be logical and consistent. You may also list sources at this point. For example, you may place in your analysis that it will be in your client’s best interest to settle out of court rather than to go through a long and expensive jury process.
- Conclude the memo by asking for a call to action if applicable.
A paralegal usually prepares the legal memo. The most important thing to keep in mind is to stick with the facts.