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Tag: Legal Writing

November 7, 2023
Elegant Legal Writing, with author Ryan McCarl

Ryan McCarl, author of the latest book on legal writing, Elegant Legal Writing, sits down with us to discuss why now, more than ever, attorneys need to elevate beyond ChatGPT and distractions to rise to our role as teachers of the law. Ryan offers these actionable tips: 🖋️ “Defer editing” and “second-guessing” until a later […]

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March 21, 2023
“You have permission to use the word ‘that’”: Lindsey Lawton on legal writing & Florida procedure comparisons

Appellate practitioner and former Florida Supreme Court career staff attorney Lindsey Lawton sits down with us to talk legal writing. For Lindsey, writing is not just her day job, she draws influence for use and enjoyment of the written word from beyond legal briefs. While she maintains a grammar beat on LinkedIn, Lindsey says language […]

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March 14, 2023
Legal-Writing Mentor John Nielsen Compares CA and UT Courts

Appellate attorney John Nielsen is forever grateful to his mentors when he was a young attorney, and he pays it forward now both as a mentor himself and by offering tips on legal writing published at the Appellate Advocacy Blog. John discusses his approach to training young associates, and to legal writing. Then we turn […]

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December 16, 2022
How Can There Be “Yeoman’s Work” Without Any Yeomen?

Many years ago, I kept a blog that ran a short series called “A Plague on Words,” in which I criticized certain expressions I thought confusing or unhelpful. My entry on the expression “yeoman’s work” became a top Google search result, and earned me a lot of hate mail. But 12 years later, I pretty […]

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November 22, 2022
M.C. Sungaila Reports Back After Over 100 Interviews of Women Judges & Attorneys at the Portia Project

M.C. Sungaila has advocated at some of the highest levels of appellate law, and last year took her experience and her heart for mentoring and public interest work to the Portia Project podcast, where she distills the wisdom and experience of women judges, justices, and top attorneys in the nation. M.C. sits down with Tim […]

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September 2, 2022
Blue Book or Yellow Book for Legal Citation Format?

Legal writing and editing nerds, you may have opinions on this. Benjamin Shatz sounds off on whether the Blue Book or the Yellow Book is the superior form of legal citation. Ben’s answer: It’s a ridiculous question. There is no such thing as a “superior” citation format. Just an appropriate format: If you are in federal court, […]

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July 29, 2022
A Mind Is Another Country

I sometimes ask our podcast guests their favorite part of the appellate process…other than writing the briefs. Because we already know that every appellate attorney’s favorite thing is writing. So here I try my own explanation why writing is such a fun adventure: because it is a journey to another country. Reaching another person’s mind […]

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July 15, 2022
“It’s Judges’ Fault” If Legal Writers Mimic Their Jocularity

“You have an informal writing style.” How do you take that? Compliment, or criticism? This is hard to answer, says legal writing pro Ross Guberman. There is a strong trend in favor of more direct and approachable legal writing—and in this sense, “informal” is a compliment. But there is also a trend among judges—and lawyers […]

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July 8, 2022
Grade Your Legal Writing How BriefCatch Scores Your Briefs

If you write your brief in a straight line, legal writing pro Ross Guberman might give your brief high marks as being Flowing & Cohesive. But if you write like Tocqueville did—as “an act of discovery”—you may need these tips from Ross on how to make your brief more Flowing & Cohesive. Watch the clip here. This […]

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June 20, 2022
The “Cleaned Up” Movement in Legal Citations

If you have not seen a case citation with a parenthetical (”cleaned up”) yet, you will eventually. Writers use it when altering—ever so slightly—quotes from legal authorities. Legal writing pro Ross Guberman explains why some attorneys love it, and others hate it. Ross also addressed my view: that I trust judges to “clean up” quotations, […]

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"Upon putting laws into writing, they became even harder to change than before, and a hundred legal fictions rose to reconcile them with reality."

— Will Durant

"Good people do not need laws to tell them to act responsibly, while bad people will find a way around the laws."

— Plato (427-347 B.C.)

"At common law, barratry was 'the offense of frequently exciting and stirring up suits and quarrels' (4 Blackstone, Commentaries 134) and was punished as a misdemeanor."

Rubin v. Green (1993) 4 Cal.4th 1187

"So far as the beginnings of law had theories, the first theory of liability was in terms of a duty to buy off the vengeance of him to whom an injury had been done whether by oneself or by something in one's power. The idea is put strikingly in the Anglo-Saxon legal proverb, 'Buy spear from side or bear it,' that is, buy off the feud or fight it out."

— Roscoe Pound, An Introduction to the Philosophy of Law

“It will be of little avail to the people, that the laws are made by men of their own choice, if the laws be so voluminous that they cannot be read, or so incoherent that they cannot be understood; if they be repealed or revised before they are promulgated, or undergo such incessant changes that no man, who knows what the law is today, can guess what it will be tomorrow. Law is defined to be a rule of action; but how can that be a rule, which is little known, and less fixed?”

— James Madison, Federalist 62

"A judge is a law student who grades his own papers."

— H.L. Mencken

"Counsel on the firing line in an actual trial must be prepared for surprises, including requests for amendments of pleading. They cannot ask that a judgment afterwards obtained be set aside merely because their equilibrium was slightly disturbed by an unexpected motion."

Posz v. Burchell (1962) 209 Cal.App.2d 324, 334

Show neither partiality to the weak nor deference to the mighty, but judge your fellow men justly.

Leviticus

"God made the angels to show Him splendor, … Man He made to serve Him wittily, in the tangle of his mind."

— Sir Thomas More in Robert Bolt's A Man for All Seasons

"It may be that the court is thought to be excessively legalistic. I should be sorry to think that it is anything else."

— Hon. Sir Owen Dixon, Chief Justice of Australia

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