From Snail Mail to E-Mail: The Traditional Legal Memorandum in the Twenty-First Century
Journal of Legal Education, Vol. 58, p. 32, March 2008
29 Pages Posted: 18 Sep 2008 Last revised: 24 May 2013
Date Written: March 1, 2008
Traditional legal memoranda have been used to teach objective analysis since the inception of legal writing programs in the 1970's. The continued use of these memoranda in the legal writing classroom leads law students to believe that traditional memoranda are still the primary form of communication between attorney and client. A 2006 survey of Georgetown University Law Center graduates, however, suggests that the traditional legal memorandum is all but dead in law practice. Seventy-five percent of the graduates surveyed said they write no more than three traditional memoranda per year. Instead, these graduates are more likely to communicate with clients about their research results by e-mail, telephone, face-to-face discussion, informal memorandum, or a letter, and in that order of preference. Ninety-two percent of the graduates indicated they use "substantive e-mail" to communicate with clients. The e-mail formats differ, but the goal is always the same: simplicity. E-mail gives attorneys the flexibility to compose their messages based on the particular issues presented and not some predetermined format. Whether or not legal writing courses continue to teach objective legal analysis through the traditional memorandum format, the survey suggests that, at a minimum, they acknowledge newer modes of composition being used by practicing attorneys.
Keywords: traditional, memorandum, informal, objective, analysis, e-mail, legal writing
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation