As a first-year associate, the responsibility of drafting your first motion for summary judgment is daunting. Law students are introduced to the basics of the summary judgment standard in their 1L Civil Procedure class, and—depending on what route you took through law school—reacquainted with the standard when preparing for the bar exam.

After three years of school and a summer of studying, any law school graduate can likely rattle off the summary judgment standard without missing a beat. But what I’ve come to learn in actual practice is that understanding the dos and don’ts of drafting the motion is a skill that is learned through careful guidance from senior attorneys, a little bit of patience, and some trial and error. There are key aspects to the motion that first year associates should learn to start looking for, such as knowing the right time to file and the facts you will rely on as the basis for the motion.

Where it all begins though, is understanding the required framework for drafting this motion. In Missouri, knowing the applicable law is critical to learning this framework. And in my short time since I began practicing law, I’ve already seen opposing counsels make the fatal mistake of failing to subscribe to it.

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