How to: Survive Your First Law School Memo
CREAC stands for Conclusion, Rule (Statement), (Rule) Explanation, (Rule) Application, Conclusion. This is how we create briefs for our Legal Research and Writing class.
A lot of people will still use the IRAC method (Issue, Rule, Application, Conclusion), but the LRW professors at my school believe that CREAC is a better more well rounded way to structure legal writing.
So, here is my advice for surviving your first law school writing assignment with CREAC:
First, just be honest with yourself and know that you are not a legal writer. You may be a good writer in the general sense, but you haven't done legal writing before, so you aren't good. You're just not good, but you will be and the only way to get there is through practice.
I think the best thing you can do for yourself in the beginning is realize that you don't know what you're doing. Recognize your deficiencies, realize that EVERYONE is in the same boat, and decide that your are going to become a better writer.
Next, take all the resources you can get. Attend office hours, talk to your writing fellow, and try to absorb as much information in class. At my school LRW is only two days a week and only two credit hours, but it actually holds way more weight than what it seems. You will hopefully get your first writing sample from your LRW class. When you have your 1L summer position you will be judged heavily on your writing abilities. The better writers get more projects.
Therefore, it is important that you get as much out of LRW as you can.
My LRW professor is EXTREMELY committed to creating the best legal writers possible. My law school is complimented a lot on the quality of our summer associates' research and writing skills. They take that reputation very seriously.
Which leads me to my next point:
Your first draft is going to be SUUUPPPEEERRR marked up. I'm talking most of the words on the page at this point are comments talking about what you need to change. Whole sentences will be crossed out and it will be a disaster.
When you get your first draft back take the constructive criticism as well as you can. My CRE is marked up to hell, but instead of being defeated, I'm more inspired to make all the necessary changes and impress my professor with my ability to learn form my mistakes.
Legal writing isn't easy. If it was everyone would do it. And, while that sounds like the most cliché thought, it's true. You will mess it all up while you're learning and then you'll survive it.