How to Structure Essays and Reports on Subjects Relating to Law
Guide to Writing a Law Essay
Unless an instructor tells you otherwise, a law essay requires, at minimum, an introductory section, a few paragraphs for the main body, and a concluding paragraph.
- The Introductory Section: If the assignment has essay type questions, the introductory section should comprise of around 10% of the assignments overall number of words. This is a rough estimate only. In essence, this paragraph should provide a brief outline of your interpretation of the assignment’s question and what you plan on covering in your essay. If the question is a problem one, your introductory section should be reasonably short and relatively simple. For instance, you can use this section to outline the type of law, cases, or statutes that the question is asking about.
- The Main Body: In an essay of this type, the main body should account for most of the overall number of words. It should adequately demonstrate how well you understand this aspect of law and you should develop an argument. A tip worth remembering is to continuously refer back to the assignment’s question i.e. the one that you are attempting to answer.
- The Concluding Paragraph: The concluding section in an assignment with essay type questions should comprise of between 10 and 15% of the overall number of words. This closing paragraph should sum-up your key points and findings and it usually arrives at a conclusion and answers the question you were asked to address. It is important not to introduce any fresh points or research material in this closing part. In the case of questions of the problem type, the concluding section’s length will largely depend on the approach you have taken to the assignment’s question. In the event you arrived at one or more conclusions in the main body of your essay, there is no point in repeating these in this section. Hence, you might simply confine yourself to summing up your results or findings. For example, you might say “To conclude, the contract between Jason and Marylyn is binding and the parties will be bound by the terms agreed five years ago on 4th September,” or something along these lines.
How to Write a Law Report
On occasion, a course instructor may ask you to write a report concerning a particular area or point of law. Usually, reports are relatively neutral or bland presentations that often deal with some current point of law, change proposals and whether or not such proposals have yet been approved by important bodies or any party with an interest in the content of the report. Additionally, reports often suggest alternatives to any changes that are being proposed. The following is a suitable structure for this type of report:
- Title or Cover Page: This page usually shows the report’s title, the name of the person who authored the report, the name of the intended recipient of the report, and the completion date.
- Executive Summary/Ordinary Summary/Synopsis: (this section should comprise of around 10% of the total number of words in the report). Here the report writer should indicate the report’s purpose, its scope (i.e. any issues that are covered or omitted), key findings and/or results, any conclusion(s), the writer’s recommendations, and an acknowledgement of any individual or entity that provided assistance with the research and assembly of the report.
- Table or List of Contents: This should not include the title page or the table of contents list or page!
- Report’s Body: This section should include some introductory words i.e. the report’s purpose (what it is about), some discussion (clearly split into appropriate sections and/or sub sections (where applicable)). All of this should be clearly presented and it should be fact-based rather than providing any analysis or opinion.
- Report’s Conclusion: this section should link back to the results or findings as set out in the report’s main body and it should provide a concise summary of all key points. The writer should also outline any findings from their research. The conclusion should not contain anything not already mentioned in the report’s body.
- Recommendations – this section should:
- Follow on or develop from the report’s conclusions
- Make suggestions regarding what the next steps should be i.e. what should be done, who should do it, how it should be done, and within what timeframe it should be done.
- Be reasonable and justifiable according to the findings rather than the writer’s opinion.
Appendices and/or Bibliography: These sections should provide any supplementary information and/or materials and source information that is too bulky for the report’s main body. Usually, an appendix is comprised of charts, tables, questionnaires, statistics, and so on.