LA 204 Legal Research/Writing I

LA 204 IS Sec 1, University of Mississippi
[See UM Catalog for Description]

3 credit hours

Instructor Information:

faculty photo

Instructor name:

Melissa Jones, MBA, JD, EdD

Instructor Information:

Melissa Jones is the Associate Director for the Lott Leadership Institute and an Adjunct Professor in the School of Applied Sciences. Melissa is a first-generation college graduate and understands the competing priorities of managing family, education, and career. She received her MBA with a specialization in Human Resources from the New York Institute of Technology, her Juris Doctor from the University of Mississippi School of Law, and her EdD in higher education from the University of Mississippi. Melissa is a member of the Mississippi Bar Association. Throughout her career, Melissa has worked in the insurance and healthcare arenas as well as representing clients in private practice and in the corporate arena as in-house counsel. She joined the Trent Lott Leadership Institute in 2017 and also teaches multiple courses in legal studies and criminal justice.

Contact Information:

If you have questions concerning the content of the course, you may contact the instructor directly using the Email Your Instructor link in the Lessons or Content page. NOTE: Whenever sending email, please be sure to indicate your course title and number in the subject line. You can expect a response within 72 hours, although it may be longer on weekends. Many instructors reply within 24 hours.

For lesson or test administration issues, please contact the iStudy department:

The University of Mississippi
Division of Outreach and Continuing Education
P. O. Box 1848
University, MS 38677

Phone: (662) 915-7313, toll-free (877) 915-7313
Fax: (662) 915-8826

Course Description

This course covers the basics of legal research, legal writing, and legal analysis.

Textbook Information:

Textbook information will be provided upon enrollment in your iStudy course.

Course Objectives:

Upon successful completion of this course, students are expected to:

  • increase critical thinking and problem-solving skills based on enhanced development of legal evaluation, research, and demonstrated verbal and written communications;
  • analyze and organize a legal problem based upon a given factual situation;
  • write and organize an analysis of the law as related to the legal issues;
  • understand the difference between primary and secondary sources of law;
  • identify the features of case reporters, code books, and various secondary sources;
  • know how to locate, read, and brief a case;
  • know how to locate, read, and analyze a statute or constitutional provision;
  • be able to analyze a basic factual problem and identify its legal issues; and
  • be able to find relevant law controlling a factual problem.

Course Outline:

This course consists of 15 instructional modules (or lessons). Please note that the suggested Pacing Guide to complete the course in a traditional semester is written for Fall and Spring. Full summer students need to make adjustments due to the significantly shorter time period involved.

Lesson Reading Assignments Due for Grades Suggested Pacing Guide to complete the course in a traditional semester. Summer session students will need to make adjustments due to the shorter time period
Start Here You MUST complete the syllabus quiz as soon as you have access to your Blackboard course. This is mandatory to verify your attendance. NOTE: You must pass the Syllabus and Orientation Quiz for the course materials to appear on the Lessons page. Syllabus Quiz Week 1
0 Introduction
Please note - there will be supplemental videos/lectures in later chapters beginning for week 10.  You will find significant take-aways in those supplements.
Discussion board Week 1
1 Chapter 1 - Introduction to Legal Research, Writing, and Analysis Appendix H - U.S. Court System Answer Citation Exercises page 17. (5 points) Week 1
2 Chapter 2 - The Starting Point: Analyzing Facts and Identifying Legal Issues Chapter 3 - Finding and Analyzing Case Law Answer Citation Exercises page 76 (#1-2 only). (5 points) Week 2
3 Chapter 4 - How to Brief a Case Appendix E - Case Briefing Practice Answer Questions for Review page 101 (#1-4). (5 points) Week 3
4 TEST 1 (Chp. 1-4) Timed test  (10 points)
To be scheduled
and completed
before proceeding
Week 4
5 Chapter 5 - Constitutions, Statutes, and Administrative Regulations Chapter 6 - Statutory and Constitutional Analysis Answer Citation Exercises page 137 (#1-4) AND Complete Analysis and Writing Assignments page 167 (#1-2). 5 points Week 5
6 Chapter 7 - Secondary Sources Chapter 8 - Digests Complete Online Research Exercises p. 210 (#4). (5 points) Week 6
7 Chapter 9 - Validating Your Research: Using Shepard's, KeyCite, and Other Citators Appendix D - Research Strategies:  An Overview   Week 7
MIDPOINT OF COURSE If you are a semester student, you must reach the midpoint of your course by the date specified in your information.
If you are a Flex UM student, you CANNOT WITHDRAW from this course after the lesson has been submitted.
All lesson assignments or exams needed to reach the midpoint of the course The exact date semester students are required to reach the midpoint is specified in your information.
8 TEST 2 (Chp. 5-9) Timed test  (10 points)
To be scheduled
and completed
before proceeding
Week 8
9 Chapter 10 and 11 - Introduction to Lexis Advance,  Westlaw and Boomberg Law
Computer-Assisted Legal Research (CALR):  The Freely Accessible Internet
  Week 9
10 Chapter 12 - Basic Legal Writing Tools Chapter 13 - Predictive Legal Writing: The Memorandum of Law Can You Figure it Out page 394 (#1) (5 points) Week 10
11 Interoffice Memorandum (Memorandum of Law) Supplemental Video 5 points Week 11
12 Interoffice Memorandum (Part 1 Revisions) Supplemental Video 5 points Week 12
13 Interoffice Memorandum (Part II Updates and Introduction) Supplemental Video 10 points Week 13
14 Interoffice Memorandum (Part III) Supplemental Video 10 points Week 14
15 Course Review   Week 15
Final Exam Comprehensive exam from all chapters (ensure all work is completed and graded prior to scheduling this exam) To be completed
to finalize credit  (20 points)
Week 16


The grading scale is as follows:
90 - 100% = A
80 - 89% = B
70 - 79% = C
60 - 69% = D
Below 59% = F


You must submit the lessons required to take the course exam(s). Lessons required but not submitted will receive a grade of zero. For the final exam, all coursework must be submitted and graded.