Guide to Law School requirements for written assessment and legal citation

Download 71.02 Kb.
Size71.02 Kb.

Written Assessment in the Law School

Legal Writing and Citation

A guide to Law School requirements for written assessment and legal citation.

Version: July 2017


Part 1: Law School requirements for written assessment 3

Word limits 3

Formatting 3

Mandatory Forms 3

Submission 3

Academic writing: overview 5

Planning and editing 6

Expression 8

Part 2: Legal Citation 11

Why cite? 11

When should you cite? 13

Legal citation styles 13

Law School citation requirements 14

Footnote style/format 14

Content of footnotes 14

Repeating references 14

Quotations 16

Part 3: Bibliographies 17

Part 1: Law School requirements for written assessment

Presentation and submission requirements may differ between units. Unless otherwise instructed (on the unit’s Blackboard site), the following requirements must be complied with:

Word limits

Written assessment must comply with the prescribed word limit. There is no 10% policy in the Law School and the word limits are imposed strictly.

If the word limit is exceeded, the examiner will not read or grade beyond the word limit.

Where there is a word limit and a page limit (e.g. 1000 words in 3 pages), both must be complied with. Anything beyond the word or page limit will not contribute to the grade.


  • Times New Roman or Arial font in 12 point

  • note that Times New Roman is a more compact font if there is a page limit as well as a word limit

  • 1.5 line spacing

  • page margins at a minimum of 2.5 cm (left, right, top and bottom)

Mandatory Forms

  • if applicable, the Group Acknowledgment Form must be completed and attached to the assignment


The Law School requires that written assessment must be submitted in the following way, unless otherwise instructed (refer to the unit’s Blackboard site):

  • Electronic copy uploaded to the unit’s Blackboard site (Assessment page) by the due date. The electronic version must be in Word or PDF (but not scanned).

  • Documents submitted in an Apple ‘Pages’ format cannot be read.

Academic writing: overview

Academic writing is formal, objective and evidenced by recognised sources of knowledge. It also requires you to use the technical vocabulary of your discipline.

In Law, the effective use of language is a vital professional skill. Legal writing is precise, clear and informed. Legal writing considers the reader at all times and uses plain English.

Plain English involves the use of direct, clear language. This kind of writing includes specialised legal terms, but does not become complicated ‘legalese’. This means using concise sentences and precise words that are appropriate to the context and audience.

For more advice on the Plain English movement, see Chapter 3 of Corbett-Jarvis and Grigg’s text Effective legal writing: a practical guide.

For more advice on the conventions and genres of academic writing, refer to QUT cite|write, an introductory guide to citing, referencing and academic writing at QUT.

Planning and editing

Academic Writing is a process: planning and editing are key stages that facilitate the writing phase and ensure that you produce the highest quality work.



Task checklist




  • Identify the topic/s

  • Clarify the task: will you analyse, describe, evaluate, or other?

  • Identify the format: an essay, report, letter, memo, or other?

  • Task sheet

  • Other task resources on unit Blackboard site

  • QUT Library’s Task word glossary

  • Tutor/Lecturer


  • Identify how marks are allocated according to the CRA

  • Task CRA

  • Unit Blackboard site

  • Tutor/Lecturer


  • Locate information e.g. lectures, readings, Law Library databases.

  • Unit Blackboard site

  • Law Library Helpdesk


  • Check the deadline and word limit

  • Plan time to research, write and edit

  • Task sheet

  • Assignment Calculator


and Editing


  • Include only content relevant to the topic

  • Answer the question / follow the task throughout


  • Provide evidence and examples to support all claims

  • Use WALS and AGLC3 rules for citation and referencing

  • AGLC3

  • Law Library Helpdesk


  • Ensure the structure is logical, with an introduction, body and conclusion appropriate to the format

  • Organise ideas into clear paragraphs

  • Use short sentences where possible

  • QUT Writing Structure

  • Corbett-Jarvis and Grigg’s text Effective legal writing: a practical guide


  • Use the specialised language of Law

  • Use punctuation correctly

  • Check spelling

  • Check grammar

  • Maintain a formal and academic (not conversational) tone

  • Legal text books and readings

  • Macquarie Dictionary

  • Fowler’s modern English usage

  • Meehan and Tullock’s Grammar for Lawyers

  • Also see Expression section on next page


  • Follow the task carefully as you write

  • Check that you fulfil the criteria

  • Task CRA

  • Task sheet


GRAMMAR- I have…

ensured all my sentences are complete. Each sentence should contain the following elements: subject-verb-object (someone is doing something to someone/something). Tip: Read your assignment aloud one sentence at a time. You will usually hear when a sentence is not complete.

ensured that the different elements of my sentence agree.

  • The subject and verb should agree. If your subject is singular then your verb should be in singular form. e.g.: The lawyers know the law in this matter.

The lawyer knows the law in this matter.

  • The nouns and pronouns should match.

e.g.: Good lawyers look out for the interests of their clients.

ensured each sentence only has one point. If it has more, it should be divided into more than one sentence (see note about commas vs semi-colons below).

used Fowler’s Modern English Usage as my guide to grammar.


used commas in the right places. The most common ways commas should be used are:

  • when inserting a clause, phrase or quote within a sentence.

  • e.g.: Your research materials, including your record of research, must be submitted with your essay.

  • when separating elements in a series, such as adjectives or nouns.

e.g.: The student considered a number of sources including case law, legislation, legal encyclopaedias and commentaries.

  • after an introductory element.

e.g. Despite a number of appeals, the original decision was not reversed.

not misused commas. Commas should not be used to add an extra idea, even if connected. Instead, use semi-colons, connecting words or new sentences e.g.

× Fast reading is an essential skill for lawyers, it should be taught in the first year of university.

√ Fast reading is an essential skill for lawyers. It should be taught in the first year of university.

√ Fast reading is an essential skill for lawyers that should be taught in the first year of university.

× The lease states tenants must pay for all repairs, it does not say who is responsible for making repairs.

√ The lease states tenants must pay for all repairs; it does not say who is responsible for making repairs.

used apostrophes appropriately. Apostrophes should be used:

  • when letters have been left out (contractions) e.g. don’t – do not; they’re – they are (but note that contractions should not be used in academic writing)

  • to show ownership (but note “its” has no apostrophe when indicating ownership)

e.g. The judges’ decisions are final. (many judges)

The judge’s decisions are final. (one judge)

The tribunal considered the issues. Its decisions are final.

used AGLC Rule 1.6 as my guide to punctuation.

SPELLING - I have…

checked my spelling is correct beyond simply using a spelling checker. Spelling is the most obvious mistake to see, and spelling checkers do not pick up incorrect word choice or US spelling.

used the Macquarie Dictionary as my guide to spelling. See AGLC Rule 1.9


used Plain English

spelled out abbreviations according to AGLC rules. See AGLC Index: Abbreviations.

capitalised legal terminology and terms according to AGLC Rule 1.7.

been mindful of words often misused/misspelt.
For example:

Me and I

× Thank you for taking the time to talk to John and I today. (Tip: If you remove John from the sentence it does not sound right - taking the time to talk to I today).

√ Thank you for taking the time to talk to John and me today.

Who (subject)


Whom (object)

× I consulted an attorney who I met in New York.

√ I consulted an attorney whom I met in New York.


(more important)



(case in point)

× Having discovered a similar case in the past, the prosecution team used this precedence to support their argument.

√ Having discovered a similar case in the past, the prosecution team used this precedent to support their argument.

Affect (verb)


Effect (noun)

× The legislation takes affect on the first of June.

× This legislation will effect vicious, lawless bikies.

√ The legislation takes effect on the first of June.

√ This legislation will affect vicious, lawless bikies.


(adjective: main)



(noun: a rule)

× You could strengthen your argument by appealing to relevant legal principals.
× The principle witness in the case alleged the defendant assaulted him.

√ You could strengthen your argument by appealing to relevant legal principles.

√ The principal witness is the case alleged the defendant assaulted him.

Your (possession) vs

You’re (You are)

× Are you sure your required to fill in that form?
× Is that you’re client in the waiting room?

√ Are you sure you’re required to fill in that form?
√ Is that your client in the waiting room?

Their (possession)


They’re (They are)

× They’re misunderstanding of the facts led to an incorrect conviction.
× Their not planning to appeal.

√ Their misunderstanding of the facts led to an incorrect conviction.
√ They’re not planning to appeal.

Part 2: Legal Citation

Why cite?

At QUT, high academic standards are expected to be maintained in all courses and units. See Manual of Policies and Procedures at C/5.3 Academic Integrity. This expectation is referred to in all unit outlines:

Academic Honesty

QUT is committed to maintaining high academic standards to protect the value of its qualifications. To assist you in assuring the academic integrity of your assessment you are encouraged to make use of the support materials and services available to help you consider and check your assessment items. Important information about the university's approach to academic integrity of assessment is on your unit Blackboard site.

A breach of academic integrity is regarded as Student Misconduct and can lead to the imposition of severe penalties. It can include:

  • Plagiarism – representing another person’s ideas or work as one’s own

  • Copying or buying any part of another person’s work

  • Cheating in exams by bringing in unauthorised materials

More information on academic honesty can be found at QUT cite|write

For law students, plagiarism (a breach of academic integrity) has very serious consequences as it may prevent admission as a legal practitioner. In Re AJG [2004] QCA 88 when considering a one off incident of plagiarism, the court stated: ‘Legal practitioners must exhibit a degree of integrity which engenders in the Court and in clients unquestioning confidence in the completely honest discharge of their professional commitments. Cheating ...must preclude our presently being satisfied of this applicant’s fitness.’

In some of the Australian jurisdictions the admitting authorities require the Law School to provide a certificate with a statement as to whether or not the university has a record of any failure to maintain academic integrity by the student seeking admission. This includes the student’s law studies or other study.

When should you cite?

The following is from QUT cite|write:

At university it is essential to acknowledge words or information you have ‘taken’ - or cited - from another source such as books, websites, newspapers, journals, DVDs, etc.

Citation: acknowledging someone else’s work

Citation or citing is when you use information or words written by someone else in your work to support your argument or illustrate your point.

You need to cite when you:

    • use a direct quote from someone else

    • give a summary of someone else’s ideas

    • paraphrase someone else’s ideas

    • copy some information (such as a picture, a table or some statistics).1

Avoiding plagiarism

Plagiarism is when you do not give credit to the author/s for information used in your own work. This means not citing or referencing when:

    • paraphrasing or summarising someone else’s ideas

    • directly copying and pasting information from the Internet

    • using the idea or thesis from someone else’s work

    • using experimental results from someone else’s work.2

Note: Some students think citations only need to be included when they are directly quoting someone. This is not true. All material of an informative nature (i.e. information you used from your reading) should be acknowledged.

Plagiarism is easy to avoid if you cite and reference correctly.

Legal citation styles

There is a variety of citation styles currently accepted in Australia. The Law School requires students to adopt the Australian Guide to Legal Citation 3 (‘AGLC3’).

QUT cite|write provides basic examples for commonly cited materials under QUT Legal.

Law School citation requirements

Footnote style/format

The Law School requires that references and citations be included in footnotes (bottom of each page) which are numbered consecutively, not endnotes.

Footnote indicator numbers should be placed outside punctuation in the text:

  • ‘Like this’.1 Not ‘Like this’1.

  • After the full stop.1 Not before the full stop like this1.

  • After the comma,1 if applicable. Not before the comma1, like this.

If more than one source is cited in the footnote, the sources are separated by a semicolon.

  • Personal Injuries Proceeding Act 2002 (Qld); Civil Liability Act 2003 (Qld).

Use a full stop at the end of every footnote.

Content of footnotes

Footnotes provide authorities for arguments or statements of legal principles that are being relied upon in the text of the assignment. Therefore, footnotes must not contain any detailed argument or answer; this must be in the body of the text.

Do not cite a secondary source (eg a text) as authority when a primary source (eg a case) is available.

If citing a secondary source, ensure that it is a recognised and credible source (eg not sources such as law firm newsletters available on the Internet, Wikipedia or a tutorial guide). Study Guides, workbooks and taped lectures must not be cited as authorities for legal principles.

Repeating references

‘Ibid’ should be used to refer to the source cited in the footnote immediately preceding except if more than that source is cited in the previous footnote.

‘Above n’ should be used if the source has been cited in a previous footnote, other than the immediate preceding footnote, or in the immediate preceding footnote as one of multiple sources. ‘Above n’ cannot be used for legislation, treaties or cases.

The use of ‘supra’ (above), ‘op cit’ (in the work cited), ‘infra’ (below) or ‘loc cit’ (in the place cited) is not allowed for repeat references to sources appearing in previous footnotes.

Refer to the guide of the particular resource for further information on referring to repeated references.


Quotes within the text of an assignment that are three lines or less may be incorporated into the text in single quotation marks. Quotes longer than three lines must be separated from the text (ie a new paragraph) indented from the left and be without quotation marks.


In Smythe v Thomas, Rein AJ held:

In circumstances where both the buyer and the seller agree to accept the terms and conditions of the eBay I see no difficulty in treating the parties as having accepted that the online auction will have features that are both similar and different to auctions conducted in other forums.1

1 [2007] NSWSC 844, [35].

It was held that in respect of vending machines, ‘the offer is made when the proprietor of the machine holds it out as being ready to receive money’.1
1 Thornton v Shoe Lane Parking Ltd [1971] 2 QB 163, 169.

Part 3: Bibliographies

Unless instructed otherwise, it is expected that written assessment includes a bibliography. A bibliography contains all sources consulted in the preparation of the assessment, not only the sources cited in the footnotes.

The bibliography is divided into parts with headings specifying the type of sources which are relevant for the assessment:

  1. Articles/ Books/Reports

  2. Cases

  3. Legislation

  4. Treaties

  5. Other

If the assessment does not include some of the types of sources listed above, the headings are omitted.

Each part of the bibliography is listed alphabetically, an author’s first name and surname should be inverted and separated by a comma (see AGLC3 1.16). No pinpoint references are included in the bibliography.

There is no full stop at the end of the reference in the bibliography.

1 Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, 2012, 3.

2 Ibid.

Download 71.02 Kb.

Share with your friends:

The database is protected by copyright © 2020
send message

    Main page