Legal research capstone

LLH401 Legal Research Capstone

Client file instructions




The Capstone Client File is where you demonstrate how you “perform” as a client-centred complex legal researcher. You will receive instructions from a client who is confronted with a set of circumstances that relate to areas of law which you will have studied in your core units.


In the Client File, you prepare a legal document for you client, document your research strategy, and then explain your reasons in an internal memorandum of advice to your supervising partner.


What must be included in the Capstone Client File?


You must complete and submit three items in this assessment:

  • (Memorandum of Advice– 50% of the overall mark in the client file) an internal memorandum of advice to your senior partner setting out your research in full.
  • (Research Product– 25% of the overall mark in the client file) a written advice or a transactional document that appropriately responds to the client’s request; and
  • (ResearchStrategy – 25% of the overall mark in the client file) a structured outline of your research strategy.


Word limit


Research Product and Memorandum of Advice – 5 000 words maximum for the combined documents.

The combined word limit for the Research Product and Memorandum is 5,000 words. You should dedicate approximately 1 000-1 500 words to the Research Product and 3 500 to 4 000 words to the Memorandum. You are to exercise your discretion on how you allocate the word count between each item. That is, youmay wish to allocate more text to one item over the other.However, the combined word limit of both documents is strictly 5 000 words.


Footnotes do not count towards the word limit.


Research strategy – does not count towards word limit.

The research strategy is not included in the word limit. There is no word limit for the Research Strategy as you may include diagrams as well as text. However, your research strategy should be no more than 3 pages.



What should each part of the assessment look like?


  1. Research Strategy


There is no specific format to your research strategy as this will depend on your personal approach (see, for example, mind mapping techniques in topic 2 – strategies).However, your research strategy should include the following:


  • A preliminary client and factual analysis.
  • A brief description of your overall legal research strategy, focussing in particular on the primary and secondary sources of law that are required to address the issues raised by the research topic and what databases are most appropriate to your research. For example, do you need Commonwealth, State or international sources of law? Do you commence with legislation-based research? Or common law? Do you need to do some background reading prior to research, and if so, what information do you need?
  • An evaluation ofthe key primary sourcesyou will use in drafting your memorandum of advice and legal document. For statute law, describehow you have verified the legislation being applied in terms of constitutional and jurisdiction issues, currency and commencement of relevant sections.For case law, describe how you have verified the cases being applied in terms of relevance, rank, persuasiveness of reasoning, reference check (subsequent treatment of the decision) and review (a statement as to how the case will apply – eg: must it be followed? Can it be distinguished on facts? etc). You do not need to evaluate all sources referred to in your memorandum of advice.


  1. Internal Memorandum of Advice

In your prior units, you will have learned how to structure an Internal Memorandum of Advice. For the purpose of this assessment, you should include an executive summary. You should reference you memorandum of advice using footnotes.


  1. Research Product

The Research Product requires that you draft a legal document. The format of your document should comply with any legal rules applicable to the document being drafted. You do not need to provide footnote references in your research product, but you should refer to any sources used to prepare your document in the bibliography.




All references should be comply with thelegal citation Written Assessment in the Law School (WALS) and the Australian Guide to Legal Citation (AGLC).


You should include a bibliography of all references that you used to prepare this assessment item.




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