How To Write A Legal Advice Essay

Our academics share their profound experience with you
Written by

lawyer discussing contract with client

As a law student you may be required to produce a legal advice essay. Whilst like any good, well structured essay your work should have an introduction, body and conclusion, a legal advice essay has a slightly different purpose than for example, a compare and contrast, or critical review essay. It is important to remember that the core aim of a legal advice essay is to convey, in precise, plain, and comprehensible English the advice which you need to convey.

The type of language used is also crucial, an effective legal advice does not use archaic language or legalese, because the main purpose is to communicate. However, do not oversimplify the advice being given, particularly if there is a need to deliver very specialised legal advice. In effect, your legal advice essay should say what needs to be said in a clear, coherent way. Technical terms may be unavoidable but should be clearly explained so that the reader understands.

The key word for legal advice essays is clarity. Legal advice and opinions are often developed through assessment of complicated sets of facts. These need to be sorted into specific legal issues and relevant definitions at the planning stage of your essay.

Planning Your Legal Advice Essay

If you plan thoroughly you will naturally have a logical structure. You may wish to state a legal opinion to get across a point, but that point may require breaking down into sections. Before writing your essay therefore, it is important to identify each of these sections (points) so that the opinions stated are justified and explained effectively. Along with clarity, be concise.

Legal advice essays usually come with a series of questions and accompanying documents related to the case being consider. It is important on reviewing the documents to identify the recipient of the advice, from the essay title. For example, a solicitor wishing to give a client advice, or direct to the client. A key point at this stage, if considering advice from the client perspective is whether the case is viable, so that a client is not misled about the potential of success if they are requesting advice on commencing legal proceedings. In other words, pros and cons of a particular action are important in a legal advice essay but there must be clear opinion and advice provided, for example a percentage chance of success.

A subsequent part of the planning process is organisation of facts, and how the advice given will be focused on these. Once the salient facts and evidence have been identified they should be placed in an order (frequently chronological works best in law essays), and a legal framework constructed. With the planning complete, you should be in a position to understand clearly what advice will be provided, why it is provided and the format you are choosing to present the advice, enabling you to write your advice essay.

Writing your legal advice essay

Introduction

Your introduction should be clear, concise, and set out the main facts of the case, and the reasons for the need for advice to be given. The introduction should also contain an overview of the advice that will be provided, in a concise (one or two sentences), and the legal framework that will be used.

Body Text

As with all essays, the body text should be separated into one paragraph per point / fact, using the logical structure set out in your plan, which incorporates all the points and facts needed to be made. Each paragraph should have a note of the point or fact, the legal framework (where appropriate) and the opinion of the writer on the facts, along with a rationale and justification for the advice given. These should be backed up with appropriately cited references that are listed at the end of the essay.

Important Note:  In all law advice works, whether essay or other reports, there are some structural rules that need to be followed to provide consistency across all legal papers. For example, liability comes before quantum and if there are multiple dependents, each one’s liability should be covered before moving to quantum.

Throughout a legal advice essay note that unless specifically required in the essay title, basic principles of law do not need to be stated. It is here that recognition of the audience for the essay is important, although where an opinion is based on a specific case then the basis of that case’s judgement would need to be included in your justification and rationale. Similar rules apply in relation to quote statute – unless there is statutory provision which deals directly with the subject of the essay there is no need to quote statute as part of the legal opinion.

Furthermore, the validity of legal argument and thus advice in law comes from the source and precedent, not from opinion. Source in law refers to who made the statement or judgement not simply what was said.  In law there are two main authorities – binding and unbinding authorities.  The first emanates from case law or legislation, whilst the second comes from Public Policy, Legal commentary, Dissenting judgements, Reform Proposals, and International Law.  A perfect law advice essay will benefit from using binding and non-binding (or persuasive authorities) as sources, provided they are justifiable and can be defended in the final opinion/advice.

Conclusion “Next Steps”

Other essay formats will normally end with a conclusion. However, a legal advice essay should end with a “next steps” paragraph which means essentially a “call to action”. In other words, instructing the reader of what should be done next to ensure the advice given leads to legal success.

So, for a legal advice essay remember: Plan, Structure, Clarity, Conciseness, and Justification of opinion are the key components for success.  To help you achieve the perfect law advice essay here are some key phrases that can help you achieve cohesion and academic excellence.

Key phrases for the introduction and body text

  • This question deals with …
  • The principal issue raised by this question …
  • The main issue is whether…
  • The issues to be considered are …
  • The problem also raises the issue of
  • On the facts presented, it can be argued that …
  • It would seem, (therefore), that …
  • It is possible that …
  • It could be argued that …
  • It would appear that…

 

Key phrases for the conclusion

  • From the evidence examined, it is my advice that…
  • It is therefore recommended that…
  • Based on the facts presented and their evaluation, the best course of action is to …

 

Online Chat WhatsApp Messenger Email
+44 800 520 0055