Tuesday, December 6, 2005
Since fact is often stranger than fiction, you could certainly get ideas for spring research and writing assignments straight from the headline legal news. Creating a good office memo, trial brief, or appellate brief problem from scratch does take a lot of time and a bit of teaching experience. If you are lacking in either of these requirements, some helpful sources of already tried-and-true LRW problems include:
The NYU Moot Court Casebook. Your school likely already has a subscription, so check the law library catalogue first. It may already be checked out to another professor. If it's sitting on the library shelf (where it's been found at some law schools), you may want to have it permanently checked out to a legal writing professor's office.
The Wake Forest Moot Court Problem Book. Ditto. The problems in both books include full appellate records and bench briefs or summaries of relevant law. You can customize these to fit your needs, using just part of the record for a memo or trial brief, for example, or narrowing down a multi-issue problem to just one issue.
The Idea Bank. This password-protected database includes submissions from hundreds of legal writing professors. The assignments available there include brief problems, memo problems, upper-level litigation-based course documents, drafting course documents, shorter writing and analysis assignments, and in-class teaching ideas. It's available via the Legal Writing Institute, with further instructions at http://www.lwionline.org.
With any problem previously published and used by others, you do need to take care that answers are not available somewhere on the Internet. Changing a small, but key, aspect of the assignment can help avoid plagiarism problems.