Students sometimes have trouble composing analytical sentences. They describe the applicable legal standard, mention the facts, and end up with the conclusion rather than the analysis. For example, if I say: “The risk of injury to a tenant resulting from criminal activity on the premises was foreseeable because the landlord decreased the security in the building, the crime rate in the building increased, and the tenant complained about the security of the common areas to the landlord,” I stated a conclusion. I mentioned the legal standard of foreseeability and the facts that the landlord decreased the security, the crime rate went up, and the tenant complained. What’s missing is the analysis. Because the analysis is usually based on common sense and our understanding of how things work in the world, it’s easy to fill the analytical gap in the sentence above in our minds and forget to verbalize it. When I said that the landlord decreased the security in the building and the crime rate went up, you understood that to mean that the risk of injury to a tenant really existed. You wouldn' t have the same understanding if I told you that the building was vacant. When I said that the tenant complained about the security of the common areas to the landlord, you inferred that the landlord was aware of the problem with the common areas. Now, what if I tell your that the tenant had hallusinations, made up stories all the time, and everybody in the building knew about it?
The point is that you need to spell out that common sense understanding as part of your analysis. An analytical sentence would look something like this: “The risk of injury to a tenant resulting from criminal activity on the premises was foreseeable because the landlord knew that the crime rate in the building was increasing and it posed a risk to tenants since the tenant told him so when she complained about the security of the common areas.”
Some of you may find it helpful to compare the process of writing out the analysis to making a mosaic. Your mosaic board is the legal standard. The mosaic pieces are the facts. Before you start gluing the pieces to the board, you need to have a mental image of what you want to create, and you need to draw that image on the board so that you know where each piece goes. Similarly, you need to put into words your understanding of how facts meet the legal standard.
Get your pens ready: it's time to scribble