Sailing and designing memo assignments have a lot in common. At first, both can seem overwhelming - so much to learn, so much to organize sequentially, and so much to get right in a short period of time. Mistakes mean instability, lost time, and possibly capsizing. Avoiding the mistakes, a good skipper can break through to clean water and good air, and teaching writing can be exhilarating. The students and teacher both benefit from and enjoy working with an ideal memo assignment. The process is critical, but the destination is key. No memo assignment is effective if it results in capsizing or getting lost. Memos are effective only when they help students meet the goals set for research, analysis, and writing. The three sections of this article provide concrete ideas for reaching the destination. The first section outlines the top ten mistakes in designing memo assignments. The top-ten designation refers not only to the importance of the mistake, but also to the frequency with which the mistake is made. The second section discusses the ideal assignment, and the third section presents strategies for working through the process of designing a memo. The completed memo assignment that appears in Appendix 2 illustrates concepts discussed in both sections two and three. Following the ideas in these three sections should lead to exhilarating sailing through legal writing for both teachers and students.
Lorraine K. Bannai et al.,
Sailing Through Designing Memo Assignments, 5 LEGAL WRITING: J. LEGAL WRITING INST. 193