Law 114 - Legal Communication and Analysis

Cynthia A. Merrill

Cynthia A. Merrill

Lecturer in Law
Coordinator of the LL.M. Legal Research and Writing Program
B.A. Colorado College
M.A. University of Washington
Ph.D. University of Washington
J.D. Yale Law School
Course Description:

This course introduces students to the practice and theory of legal analysis and communication.  It examines how legal doctrines and rules develop from multiple and intersecting legal sites, including constitutions, judicial decisions, and statutes, within various legal frameworks such as stare decisis and federalism.  Through reading and writing assignments, students will acquire legal analytic skills suitable to various employment settings.  They will practice the strategies by which lawyers and other legal actors identify and analyze the relevant law, then apply it to new legal problems.  They will also learn how to conduct independent legal research, assess the implications of new statutes and decisions, and communicate legal analysis effectively to both lawyers and laypersons.       


Course Learning Outcomes:

By the end of the course, students will be able to:

  • Recognize and articulate legal doctrines and rules found in judicial decisions, constitutions, statutes and regulations.
  • Recognize and understand methods of statutory interpretation.
  • Analyze and research legal problems, with knowledge of appropriate authorities and resources.
  • Communicate legal analysis effectively to lawyers and laypersons.
  • Comprehend varied forms of legal communication. 
  • Analyze and explain the background and implications of new statutes and judicial decisions.

Course Information:
​Faculty Term Course Section ​Schedule ​Units Requisite Satisfies SAW
Cynthia Merrill 20F 114 SEM 1 W 7:00 PM - 9:00 PM 2.0 No No
  Limited to MLS students. Enrollment processed through the MLS Office.
Textbook Information:
Textbook for Fall 2020 SEM 1
Shapo, Walter, and Fajans. Writing and Analysis in the Law   7th ed.   
ISBN: 9781683282372. Foundation Press. REQUIRED $130.87
Olson, Kent. Legal Research in a Nutshell  13th ed.  
ISBN: 9781640208049. West Academic. OPTIONAL $50.00