Introduction: This in an intensive one-week course to help prepare students for internship and practice opportunities in legal settings where the English language is used to draft legal documents and communicate to colleagues, clients, adverse parties, administrative tribunals, courts, and the public.  The course will be especially valuable for students who expect to work in settings that involve international law, international transactions, and international dispute resolution.  The course will cover best practices in the customs, styles, structure, and protocols of legal writing in English.  Students will focus on learning and applying the basic rules of legal drafting, using appropriate language, and organizing and presenting the contents of legal documents. The course will be organized around a series of sequenced, interrelated units that are divided into:  1) presentation and discussion about basic rules; and (2) active and interactive exercises that give students an opportunity to apply basic rules related to drafting documents, analyzing and framing legal positions, and presenting legal analysis and conclusions in written and oral argument. Special emphasis will be placed on writing intra-office legal memoranda of the type that might be expected in an international law office setting.

Instructors:  George Critchlow is an Emeritus Professor at Gonzaga University School of Law in Spokane, Washington, USA.  He has practiced and taught law for forty years.  His teaching areas include Clinical Law (teaching basic legal skills), Civil Procedure, Criminal Procedure, International Human Rights, and Professional Responsibility.  Professor Critchlow has also taught and consulted in Romania, Jordan, Palestine, Tunisia, Brazil, and China. As an American professor and lawyer, Professor Critchlow will teach about Legal Writing in English according to the style and practice of legal writing in the United States.  

Genevieve Mann teaches primarily in the clinical setting, where she directs the Elder Law Clinic at Gonzaga University School of Law. She also teaches in the classroom, including a first-year experiential course titled “Litigation Skills and Professionalism Lab” which requires students to participate in role plays and written exercises. Prior to joining the faculty full-time, Professor Mann was in private practice for many years. She represented employees in cases involving race and gender discrimination, wrongful termination, harassment and retaliation. Prior to law school, Prof. Mann received a Master of Social Work from Boston College.

Relying on her practice experience, Professor Mann teaches legal writing in an assortment of contexts including communicating with clients, lawyers and the court. She highlights the importance of organization and structure, as well as persuasion and analysis. Professor Mann engages students through various written tools to strengthen student writing, such as law firm memorandum, motions to court, and client letters.

Time:  Class will meet from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. each day.  There will be a one-hour break from 11:30 to 12:30.

Materials:  The instructor will provide assigned written material either in hard copy form or electronically depending on what technology is available.  He will specify required reading in advance of each class. Students will be expected to read and think about the assigned material before class.  They will also be expected to discuss this material during class.

Day One


Introduction to Legal Writing in Common Law and International Law Settings.  We will discuss the difference between the common law and civil law systems and the function of English language writing in different contexts.  There will be special focus on the importance of precedence in common law jurisdictions and the need for lawyers to communicate effectively about case law.  

Active learning component:  Students will write a short paper on what they hope to learn in this course and how that learning will relate to their career goals.


Basic Tools of Legal Writing: IRAC (Issue, Rule, Analysis/Application, Conclusion); PASS (Purpose, Audience, Scope); and the three “Cs” (Clear, Concise, Correct)

Active learning component:  Students will read a case and write a short memorandum applying the above-mentioned tools.

Day Two


The importance of organizing and structuring legal writing.  We will discuss how to effectively organize writing, whether the purpose of the writing is to persuade or to advise.  There will be emphasis on large-scale organization (the entire document) and small-scale organization (sections and paragraphs) and the value of applying IRAC to multiple and interdependent issues.

Active learning component:  Students will be divided into groups.  Each group will read a selected legal writing, discuss whether it is effectively organized, and orally report on the group’s conclusion.  The report should include an identification of any organizational weaknesses and an explanation of the how the writing might be improved.


Drafting, rewriting, and time management.  We will discuss the need for disciplined editing, revision, and proof-reading of written work product.  Time-management skills and approaches will be discussed regarding both drafting and other day-to-day dimensions of lawyers’ work.

Active learning component:  Students will be given a writing assignment to complete in a specified and limited timeframe.  They will then edit their own writing during another limited period.  Finally, they will exchange their written work product with another student, and both students will share their thoughts about how the writing might be improved.

Day Three


Writing memoranda to files.  We will discuss the need for documenting legal advice given to clients and for documenting fact investigation, legal research, and legal analysis by way of writing memoranda that become part of the client file.  We will examine the different objectives for writing an office memorandum, including the need for an objective or predictive analysis of the client’s legal problem and the need to memorialize facts and legal analysis for future reference for writer and his or her colleagues.  Finally, we will study the basic parts of a legal memorandum: heading, facts, discussion, and conclusion.


Active learning component: During the entire afternoon session, students will work in small groups drafting an office memorandum based on hypothetical facts and law (to be provided by instructor). The assignment will be due in class on the morning of Day Four, so students will have the opportunity to continue working on the memorandum after class.

Day Four


Active learning component:  Students will spend the part of the morning in designated groups reading and critiquing at least one of the assigned memoranda submitted by other groups.  The latter part of the morning will be spent in a general classroom discussion about the strengths and weaknesses reflected in the individual memorandum submitted by each group.


Letters to clients and opposing parties or counsel.  We will discuss the different purposes for writing letters to clients (confirming information, seeking new information, giving legal advice, and communicating information about the client-lawyer relationship).  Special emphasis will be given to the writing skills relevant to communication with non-lawyers.  We will also discuss the purpose and varying approaches to demand letters.

Active learning component:  Students will write an advice letter to a client based on hypothetical facts provided by the instructor.

Day Five


Communicating with decision-making authorities (courts, administrative tribunals, and arbitrators).  We will discuss the generic types of documents (pleadings) that are typically used to commence legal proceedings, respond to legal actions, and tailor the issues that arise during the dispute resolution process (motions).  This discussion will focus on the purpose of these documents, the audience to which they are directed, and the typical elements that make up such documents.

Active learning component:  Students will review and discuss sample pleadings from cases in different types of decision-making bodies.


The afternoon session will be a discussion on professional responsibility.  We will focus on professionalism standards that are common to the practice of law in different jurisdictions and in practice before international tribunals.  We will also use part of the afternoon session for wrap-up and goodbyes.