16 Legal Communication & Rhetoric (2019 Forthcoming)
9 Pages Posted: 6 Dec 2018 Last revised: 28 Feb 2019
Date Written: October 11, 2018
Analytical documents are a hallmark of the law school legal writing curriculum and of the practice of law. In these documents, the author usually applies a body of law to a set of facts and reaches a conclusion. Oftentimes, that conclusion is phrased as a prediction (“The court is likely to find…”), and many academics even refer to analytical documents as “predictive” document types. If that describes you, this Essay's goal is to convince you to change your ways.
Simply put, there is a difference between conducting a legal analysis and predicting the outcome of a legal dispute. If the author of an analytical document has only conducted a legal analysis, they have no business claiming that they can predict the outcome of the dispute. That distinction should be recognized in the teaching of analytical document genres and should be conveyed by legal professionals in their communication of legal analyses.
Keywords: legal writing, legal analysis
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