Graded Written Assignment:
Legal Memorandum to a Non-Lawyer
about a Court Decision
You are working as an intern in the legal department of Italian Food-at-Home, Inc., a
manufacturer and distributor of specialty food products located in Brooklyn, New York. The company manufactures and sells the Italian Food-at-Home brand products to supermarkets throughout the United States. In addition to its manufacturing and wholesale business, the company also operates two retail stores located in New York City where it sells its own products and those
of other suppliers.
Part of your job as an intern in the legal department is to reduce complex court cases to two-page summaries for the company’s non-legal executives detailing important aspects of the lawsuits that may impact the business.
Your supervisor, Carlotta Rossi, is interested in learning more about a case called Federated Retail Holdings, Inc., v. Sanidown, Inc. (referred to below as Federated Retail).
You have been given the assignment to read Federated Retail and write a memorandum to your supervisor summarizing and analyzing the case. Your memorandum about the case should be structured in the following way:
- The memorandum should be not more than two pages in length, use 12-point font, be
single-spaced except for double-spacing between paragraphs, and include To, From, Date and Re (or Subject) headings. Since the memorandum has a “To” heading, you do not need an opening salutation “Dear Ms. Rossi.”
- The first paragraph should tell the reader why you are writing this memo, what key legal principles this case illustrates, and why a case involving pillows, comforters, and
featherbeds is relevant for Italian Food-at-Home, Inc.
- Your next paragraphs should explain the facts, decision, and reasoning in the case.
This assignment is similar to a “case brief” discussed in Appendix A of our Law 1101 textbook.
This assignment is divided into two steps. In the first step, you will turn in a draft or nonfinal version of the memorandum. After you turn in the draft, your professor will review the draft, make comments, and return it to you. In the second step of the assignment, you will revise and rewrite the memorandum and turn in the final version of the memorandum. This assignment will count 15 percent of the Law 1101 course grade. Only the grade on the final version of the memorandum will count. You will be graded on your understanding of the case and related course material, as well as on the clarity and quality of the presentation.
Academic integrity will be strictly required in this assignment. Do not copy more than three words in a row from any source without attribution, including from Federated Retail. This prohibition on copying without attribution includes the textbook, other books, any online materials, and any other person. If you quote from the textbook or any other published source, you need to usea proper citation form. For Federated Retail itself, however, you do not need a formal citation form; you can just say, for example: “The parties entered into separate contracts for the Spring 2006 and
Fall 2006 seasons.” Federated Retail.
You are allowed and encouraged to discuss this assignment with your classmates or others, provided that you do not copy any other person’s words you’re your memorandum.
This assignment is part of Baruch’s emphasis on developing skills in written communication. “The objective is to teach students to produce professional, clear, concise, evidence-driven, persuasive communication that is audience-aware and purpose-oriented.” Sally Fay, “TheMarket-Responsive BBA,” BizEd (Nov. 2020).
Another article describes five competencies in business communication:
Professional. Business communicators represent themselves and their
organizations, so they must exhibit care and attention to detail, use a courteous
tone, and follow standard business conventions.
Clear. Business communicators must deliver messages that are easy to decipher
and act upon. They should put the bottom line up front, organize points in ways
that are easy to follow, and use simple and unambiguous language.
Concise. Business communicators must deliver messages that are as short as
possible, without being incomplete. At the big-picture level, they cut out
extraneous information. At the detail level, they edit their sentences to reduce
Evidence-Driven. Business communicators must select and present compelling
evidence to support their points. They explain the credibility of their sources or
analyses, clearly describe the supporting data, and use data displays to convey
Persuasive. Business communicators convince others to support a position or
take action. They state strong overarching persuasive positions, create logical
sub-points, and adhere to ethical standards in their attempts to influence.
Kristen Lucas, “Toward Better Business Communication,” BizEd (Jan.-Feb. 2017), pp. 54-61, at 56.