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The legal memorandum is the most common type of predictive legal analysis; it may include the client letter or legal opinion.The legal memorandum predicts the outcome of a legal question by analyzing the authorities governing the question and the relevant facts that gave rise to the legal question.Legal writing is a type of technical writing used by lawyers, judges, legislators, and others in law to express legal analysis and legal rights and duties.Legal writing in practice is used to advocate for or to express the resolution of a client's legal matter. In most legal writing, the writer must back up assertions and statements with citations to authority.Persuasive writing is the most rhetorically stylized.
This formality can take the form of long sentences, complex constructions, archaic and hyper-formal vocabulary, and a focus on content to the exclusion of reader needs.
A 150-page merger agreement between two large corporations, in which both sides are represented by counsel, will be highly formal—and should also be accurate, precise, and airtight (features not always compatible with high formality). law schools teach legal writing in a way that acknowledges the technical complexity inherent in law and the justified formality that complexity often requires, but with an emphasis on clarity, simplicity, and directness.
A commercial lease for a small company using a small office space will likely be much shorter and will require less complexity, but may still be somewhat formal. Yet many practicing lawyers, busy as they are with deadlines and heavy workloads, often resort to a template-based, outdated, hyperformal writing style in both analytical and transactional documents.
Precedent means the way things have been done before.
For example, a lawyer who must prepare a contract and who has prepared a similar contract before will often re-use, with limited changes, the old contract for the new occasion.
In the United States, in most law schools students must learn legal writing; the courses focus on: (1) predictive analysis, i.e., an outcome-predicting memorandum (positive or negative) of a given action for the attorney's client; and (2) persuasive analysis, e.g., motions and briefs.