II. THE SOLUTION

This Toolkit addresses the main problem of lawyers' shortage of time. We try 2 ways to reduce the problem. First, 'the problem caused through shortage of time is reduced by presenting legal research in a structured and systematic method'.39 The Toolkit embodies this method in a model that comprises 10 'How to' Steps.

THE 10 STEPS

 

PART A—PROBE THE PROBLEM

Turn an unfocussed problem into a focused problem

STEP 1: Know the facts

STEP 2: Analyze the facts

STEP 3: Identify the legal questions

PART B—LAY OUT THE LAW

Find the grey areas of dispute

STEP 4: Generate search terms

STEP 5: Search thoroughly for sources

STEP 6: Divide the law into its elements and ingredients

STEP 7: Apply the law to the facts to identify the legal issues

PART C—USE THE TOOLS OF PERSUASION

Persuade the judge that you have found the 'right' answer

STEP 8: Persuade through emotion

STEP 9: Persuade through logic

STEP 10: Persuade through credibility

Second, the toolkit implements Lutz's idea that technology can help lawyers to follow advice more quickly and automatically:

'Here is an example. Ban certain words. Prohibit them completely. No exceptions. Absolutely eliminate things like: instant (when used instead of "this") … vel non … aforementioned … The list could go on and on. Just banning this small group would scrape a lot of sludge from briefs and memos. How would such a ban be enforced? … Most lawyers use word processors … [With more sophisticated systems] if "instant" were used before "case" or "Vel non" were used anywhere … a buzzer, warning sign, and flashing red light would go off when a bad word was typed. Compliance would be automatic and complete.'40

This Toolkit links to tools aimed at automating legal analysis, research, and writing. These tools include TimeLine Maker, to help you comprehend the facts of your problem (Step 1); the Visual Thesaurus and Ultimate Vocabulary to help you generate search terms (Step 4); Rationale, to help you work out your legal arguments (Steps 6 and 7); and StyleWriter, to help you write clearly. The Toolkit also links to a free online version of our own software called WordStyler, which automatically finds and replaces more than 15,000 examples of the kind of words and phrases Lutz mentions. WordStyler, and the other tools, provide neither 'complete' nor fully 'automatic' compliance. But they will help you implement the Toolkit's 10 Steps.

Even if you have no time to use all the Toolkit, you will still get value from certain parts of it, so far as those parts can stand alone. For example, all lawyers—even experienced lawyers—should read Steps 6 and 7, which provide a variation of the 'circles method' for analyzing cases.41 You will also find the tools in Step 10 useful, since those tools provide a quick way of implementing advice on persuasive writing.

As for other audiences, I want the Toolkit to become the stock tool for a new kind of legal professional: the full-time Research Lawyer.42 Research Lawyers do not practice law—they provide legal information rather than legal advice and they work exclusively for practicing lawyers rather than the public.43 Because they specialize in legal analysis, research, and writing, Research Lawyers have the time to spend on these tasks that practicing lawyers lack.

For yet more audiences, Steps 17 will help law students answer problem-based exam questions. The same Steps will introduce new lawyers to real-world legal problem-solving. Parts of the Toolkit will give law teachers ideas for preparing students for practice. But the Toolkit's main goal remains helping practicing lawyers save time, save money, and win more cases.

 

39 Christopher Enright, Legal Method, Chapter 2 (forthcoming) (copy on file with author). See www.legalskills.com.au.

40 Christopher T Lutz, 'Why Can't Lawyers Write?' in Priscilla Anne Schwab (ed), Appellate Practice Manual (1992) 167, 176–7.

41 Developed by Graeme Blank. See, for example, Graeme Blank, 'Case Analysis—The "Circles Method"', paper presented at the Qld Bar Association Ethics and Advocacy Conference, Noosa, Queensland, Australia, 5–6 March 2005 (copy on file with author); Hugh Selby and Graeme Blank, Winning Advocacy: Preparation, Questions, Argument (2nd ed, 2004) 26–47.

42 The Toolkit started as an internal training tool for Research One's own Research Lawyers, but has developed into a resource for a much wider audience.

43 The Research Lawyer emerged in America around the late 1970s when companies like the Legal Research Center set about improving lawyers' research and writing. As courts in England and Australia started shifting from oral persuasion to written persuasion, companies in these other countries followed the American lead by hiring and training full-time Research Lawyers.

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