How to Write the Perfect Memo Part 3 - The Survey


We've now discussed how to accept a writing assignment from an assigning lawyer; and we've compared the three primary memoranda an assigning lawyer will ask you to write: the Survey, the Advisory Memorandum, and the Issue Memorandum. Today, we examine the shortest and simplest of the three, the Survey.

The Survey

The Survey requires little if any analysis. You merely decipher a document: Here is what the covenants say; or, these are the important clauses in the Proposed Recapitalization. Organizing a Survey is straightforward and simple. You open by stating the assignment, then you deliver the information.


What has the assigning lawyer asked you to do?

You have asked me to describe the assets that Triton, Mayflower, and certain of their subsidiaries have pledged to secure obligations under the Credit Agreement, dated June 30, 2017.

Information Requested

You have no questions to answer, and you won’t be analyzing or even discussing the information; so the Survey is complete in two parts.

Triton, Mayflower, and the subsidiaries secured their obligations under the Credit Agreement with:

  • all of the personal property of Henry Iverson and Amanda Iverson, pledged under the Security Agreement, dated July 8, 2017 . . . .

Unless the assigning lawyer requests a conclusion or final tally, you need not include one in a Survey.

Next week, in Part IV of the WordRake series How to Write the Perfect Memorandum, we will explore the Advisory Memorandum and how to structure it to please assigning lawyers.

About the Author

Gary Kinder has taught over 1,000 writing programs for the American Bar Association, the Social Security Administration, PG&E, Kraft, Microsoft, and law firms like Jones Day, Sidley, and WilmerHale. His critically-acclaimed Ship of Gold in the Deep Blue Sea hit #7 on the New York Times Bestsellers List.

Our Story

WordRake founder Gary Kinder has taught over 1,000 writing programs for AMLAW 100 firms, Fortune 500 companies, and government agencies. He’s also a New York Times bestselling author. As a writing expert and coach, Gary was inspired to create WordRake when he noticed a pattern in writing errors that he thought he could address with technology.

In 2012, Gary and his team of engineers created WordRake editing software to help writers produce clear, concise, and effective prose. It runs in Microsoft Word and Outlook, and its suggested changes appear in the familiar track-changes style. It saves time and gives confidence. Writing and editing has never been easier.