You will win or lose your reader in the “opening” of your paper, so even the most brilliant Argument or Analysis cannot undo the damage wrought by a sloppy opening. What are the ingredients for a strong opening? Whatever format you use, you must do three things in your opening:
- Explain the background “story.”
- Make the issue clear. (The issue will usually be clear from the story. If it is not, you should ask a question.)
- State your answer in big, bold neon lights.
In a substantive memorandum, you have—at most—a page and a half to “open.” The strongest writers “open” in the first paragraph. Avoid a vague discussion of abstract legal principles and frame your opening around your client’s facts.