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Lawyer decision making

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Zachary Wolfe

on 5 October 2017

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Transcript of Lawyer decision making

Lawyer-writer decision making
Review of types of analyses used in this course

You learn about an injustice.
First question:
Can I just sue somebody?

(Or is it a bigger problem than that?)
What kind of problem is this?
1. Someone was pre-approved for a mortgage, found a place, but then the mortgage was turned down. This person thinks it was because she wanted to buy in an ungentrified neighborhood in Southeast DC.

You research a little, and learn that there's such a thing as lawsuits over this sort of activity.
What laws and doctrines do we have to draw upon?
We do have laws that declare a public policy and shared public commitment to making housing affordable.

Consider broader social policies and opportunities for progressive laws.
What about the Community Reinvestment Act, or rent control, or other laws?
IRAC each, to establish that existing laws cannot reach the problem we have here.

Pay attention to arguments for and about each law, to identify and substantiate principles of affordable housing and obligations to invest in lower-income communities.

How, precisely, does existing law fall short?

Methodical, comprehensive analysis and deductive reasoning.
(Step-by-step, and
every
relevant step.)
What do we need to address this problem?
Could any law be reinterpreted in a way that would address the problem?
Is there a logical way to expand the principles from related areas of law?
Through new legislation or other means?
Or is it really a bigger problem than that?
Entirely new policy initiatives?
Direct regulation of what came to your attention?
Something more systemic (investments, jobs, security)?

Methodical, comprehensive analysis and deductive reasoning.
(Step-by-step, and
every
relevant step.)
I:
Is there a violation of the Fair Housing Act?
R:
The FHA is violated if
A, B, and C
.

A:
Our client has evidence of
A
, because .... She has evidence of
B
because.... She has evidence of
C
because...

C:
Therefore, there appears to be a claim against the bank for violation of the FHA.
I:
Is there a violation of the Community Reinvestment Act?
R:
The CRA is violated if
A, B, and C
.

A:
Our client has evidence of
A
, because .... She has evidence of
B
because.... She has evidence of
C
because...

C:
Therefore, there appears to be a claim against the bank for violation of the CRA.
Maybe this is a housing discrimination claim
You research more, and find out about the Fair Housing Act and Community Reinvestment Act.

Time for a Legal Memo!


Finish the memo
Meet with your client
File a lawsuit
Keep the legal memo handy to use in various briefs you'll be filing throughout the litigation.
2. Someone complains that she is being evicted for nonpayment of rent, the rent is going up at a rate that's legal under rent control but still too much for her to afford, and she simply can't find any affordable housing. (This isn't the first time you've encountered instances like this in your practice.)

You research a little, but quickly realize that no court is going to give you any solution to this problem.
Finish your article
Methodical, comprehensive analysis
Informed throughout by who needs to do what
Policy makers
Litigators and judges
NGOs and educators
Full consideration of the relevant context -- facts and law
Response that is tied to best understanding of the problem
What kind of problem is this?
1. Someone was pre-approved for a mortgage, found a place, but then the mortgage was turned down. This person thinks it was because she wanted to buy in an ungentrified neighborhood in Southeast DC.

You research a little, and learn that there's such a thing as lawsuits over this sort of activity.
2. An alarming number of people are being evicted for nonpayment of rent. Often (but not always) the rent increase is legal under rent control but still unaffordable, and it's very difficult to find affordable housing alternatives.

You research a little, but quickly realize that there might be a viable lawsuit for some people, but no court is going to give you a comprehensive solution to this problem.
Prof. Zachary Wolfe, Esq.
Full rationale of the l. rev. might:

be an inspiration for judges, litigators, or legislators
be distilled (by you or others) into:
impact/test litigation
amicus briefs
model briefs
model legislation
Full transcript