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Syllabus in Legal Writing

Second Semester, Academic Year 2010-2011

Student’s Name: ___________________________________

I.D. No. ____________________ Section: _________

Class Days: ___________ Time and Room: _____________

PROFESSOR:
Atty. Anna Christina S. Arias-Sumilong
Chairperson, Department of Legal Management
San Beda College
2nd Floor, St. Anselm’s Building
Consultation Hours: Saturdays, 9:30 a.m. (by appointment)
Office No. 7356011 local 5320
E-mail: acsumilong@sanbeda.edu.ph
kitchie_acs@yahoo.com
facebook.com/kitchie.ariassumilong

TEACHING PHILOSOPHY AND OBJECTIVES:


As a teacher, my goal is to motivate students to learn and dedicate best efforts to classroom
work. Through active participation in classroom discussions, students will hopefully rise up from
the ‘sea of mediocrity,’ utilize their abilities and strive to constantly improve.

The Benedictine core values of ora et labora (prayer and work), study, community and the
pursuit of peace are at the heart of each lesson and activity. It is hoped that each student in
class develops the following by the end of each term:

1) Working knowledge of the subject matter;


2) Improved oral and written communication skills;
3) Creativity, developed analytical skills, independent-mindedness and self-expression;
4) Work ethic and commitment to excellence;
5) Open-mindedness, humility and willingness to learn new things for constant self-
improvement;
6) A sense of social responsibility; and
7) Heightened appreciation and acceptance of one’s uniqueness which translates to respect
and empathy for others.

Course Outline:

I. Importance of legal writing in the practice of law


II. Review of basic legal research principles
a. Identifying relevant facts and issues
b. Rules of citation and bibliography
c. Plagiarism
III. Grammar and writing style
a. The personalities of a writer
b. Parts of speech
c. Punctuation
IV. Preparing basic legal documents
a. Letters
b. Legal opinion
c. Contracts
d. Brief, reply and memorandum of appeal
d. Decision writing

COURSE CALENDAR

November 6 (merged class: 10:00-12:00 noon, Conference Hall)


DISCUSSION:
1. Importance of Legal Writing in the Practice of Law (Question for Reflection: Why is Legal Writing the
most important subject in law school?) – 20 minutes
2. Why do you want to be a lawyer? – 30 minutes
3. Basic Principles of Legal Research (the extent of material a lawyer will work with) – 40 minutes
EXERCISE 1: The Personalities of a Writer (include editing) – 30 minutes

November 13
DISCUSSION:
Identifying relevant facts and issues (of fact and law) and the appropriate legal research strategy

ACTIVITY 1: Analyzing Facts and Drafting Issue Statements (per group)

December 4
ACTIVITY 2: Reading on the importance of legal writing to be followed by discussion of reactions/open
forum
EXERCISE 2: Grammar Diagnostic Test

January 8, 2011
ACTIVITY 3: Group Presentation (Analyzing Facts and Drafting Issue Statements)

January 15
DISCUSSION: (in preparation for midterm examinations)
1. The legal argument template
2. Answering legal questions MIDTERM PROJECT
Legal Research: Gathering Facts and Formulating a Legal Opinion

Consider the following scenario for this assignment:

You are a veteran lawyer, law professor and newspaper columnist who is
outraged at the recent “plagiarism brouhaha” involving the Supreme Court. You
intend to prepare a position paper regarding the Court’s decision in A.M. No. 10-
7-17-SC promulgated in October 12, 2010.

Your project: Research and prepare the facts of the case. Choose a side. State
the issues of the case and your legal opinion. Cite all your sources.

Criteria for Grading: Submission: February 4, 2011, 5:00


p.m.
Grammar – 20% Dean’s Office, College of Law

Narration of Facts – 40%


Logic/Arguments – 30% *NOTE: This project is 10% of your final
grade.
Bibiliography – 10%

January 21
DISCUSSION: Letter Writing
ACTIVITY 4: Exercise per group
Assignment 1: Letters, Facts and Opinions (Submission: February 12, 2011, 5:00p.m. at the Dean’s
Office, College of Law)
Criteria for Grading:
Grammar/English - 5 points
Logical flow of the letter - 5 points
Correct Letter format - 5 points
Content (based on the given facts) - 5 points
Total 20 points

January 28-30 Pista ng Sto. Nino at Frolics

February 5
DISCUSSION: Review of Legal Research and Citation Rules
EXERCISE 3: Legal Research Diagnostic Test
Note: In preparation for Activity 3, students will be instructed to obtain sample legal documents (i.e.,
complaint, pleading, affidavit, motion) and bring them to class the following meeting.
A LOVE STORY GONE AWRY

February
Rose 12
and Jack have been married for five years. They have a three-year old daughter, Hannah, who is
ACTIVITY
already goes3:an
30-minute Group discussion
exclusive Montessori school inon sample legal
Greenhills. documents
Rose is (each group
the Vice-President to prepare
for Finance in the
observations)
Quezon City branch of a multinational bank, while Jack works as a team leader in a legal transcription firm
DISCUSSION:
based in Makati. Answers to Diagnostic Test
Assignment 2: The Legal Opinion
Unknown to Rose, Jack has renewed his ties with an ex-girlfriend named Tisha. While Jack remains to be a
doting father and caring husband to his wife, a part of him yearns for his ex-girlfriend’s (and good friend’s)
carefree yet sensitive attitude. He feels that Rose is too engrossed with her work at the bank. He is unable to
share his thoughts and aspirations with his wife; Tisha, on the other hand, is always ready to listen to him and
never fails to lift up his spirits, particularly when he has issues regarding his work.

Rose is a driven and ambitious lady. After finishing her master’s degree in business administration at the
University of the Philippines three years before, she was immediately promoted to her present position. She
has already been considered for a CEO position in the bank and is also being wooed by three other
multinational companies. She carries herself well, with dignity and pride, and naturally, her taste in fashion is
impeccable. She wants nothing but the best for her daughter and husband when it comes to material
possessions; after all, she can afford to give the best to them. Jack however is always quick to point out that
there are more practical, cheaper brands to choose from. The couple end up quarreling over Rose’s
expensive purchases.
Jack leaves his cell phone in the family car on a day he was supposed to meet with Tisha for coffee
at Starbucks after work. The car is parked at home and the phone rings just as Rose opens the car
door. She picks up the phone when she sees a woman’s name register, and answers. Tisha, taken
aback by a woman’s voice, hurriedly hangs up.

Rose confronts Jack when he gets home three hours later. They argue, and a tearful Rose soon
becomes violent. She demands for a divorce. She quickly packs her things and leaves. Three days
later, she is on her way to Texas to stay with relatives.

Assume that the law firm you work for is contacted by Rose’s parents. They ask the partners of the
firm for legal advice regarding the following:

Whether the divorce decree Rose plans to get in Texas is legal;


Whether they can get custody of their granddaughter;
Whether they can be compelled to provide support to their granddaughter in place of Rose, since she is
out of the country; and
The likely outcome of the petition for annulment that they hear Jack plans to file.

As the handling lawyer, you are tasked to prepare the legal opinion on the matter. Work only with
the given facts. Cite the applicable laws and jurisprudence to support your contentions.

Criteria for grading:


Narration of facts: 30% Legal basis (cases) and bibliography: 30%
Issue statements: 10% Logic and flow of arguments: 30%

Submission: February 18, 5:00 p.m., College of Law Dean’s Office

*Schedule for February 19 onwards to follow

Grading system:

Activities – 30%
Assignments – 30%
Midterm Project – 10%
Final Paper – 30%
100%