legal writing

How to Use a Colon

From Columbia Journalism Review: Just as colon the organ, um, moves things along, so does colon the punctuation mark. It signals to a reader that what follows is a list, an elaboration or definition, or something else that continues the thought. It says that what follows is so closely related to the first part of […]

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Making It Sing: How Rhetorical Writing Techniques Can Improve Legal Writing

Legal writing does not need to resemble a cross between a nineteenth century sermon and a treatise on higher mathematics.

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The Enigmatic Em Dash

Don't fear the em dash—it can add energy and much needed variety to your prose.

How to Cite Walter Sobchak on Prior Restraint

First Amendment lawyer Marc Randazza has found a gem: an opinion from the Texas Supreme Court quoting Walter Sobchak in “The Big Lebowski” on prior restraint.

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How to Cite Buzz Lightyear in a Legal Brief

"I suppose you might also be wondering, 'In what situation might I feel compelled to cite an animated action figure as an authority in one of my briefs?'"

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Lawyers Fight Bravely to Save the Endangered Adverb

Lawyers, aided by legislative champions of the downtrodden in many states and the United States Congress, have come to the rescue of the much-maligned adverb.

How to Hyperlink in Federal Court Filings

federalcourthyperlinking.org is “A compendium of resources for attorneys interested in adding hyperlinks to their CM/ECF filings.”

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The CIA’s Bestiary of Intelligence Writing is Really Weird

Fed up with the incessant repetition of buzzwords like viable analysis, multidisciplinary analysis, and nonstarter in CIA publications, two agency writers put together the Bestiary of Intelligence Writing. Does anyone know if Bryan Garner can draw?

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BP Lawyers Stretch the Meaning of “Double-Spaced”

"Counsel’s tactic would not be appropriate for a college term paper. It certainly is not appropriate here."

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How to Write More Effective Opening Paragraphs

"By replacing formulaic openers with forceful arguments," says Burlingame, "lawyers can capture the judge's attention, enhance their credibility, and show from the outset why their clients should win."

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How to Lose Your Case

I didn’t realize that attorneys would prefer to lose, not win, their case. But if your goal is losing, this article is for you. Be sure to incorporate these ideas from my law clerk friends into your motions and briefs — if you want to lose your case.

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The Best Lawyers Demonstrate the Best Ways to Attack Adverse Authority

What should you do when your opponent cites authority in a motion or brief that appears directly on point? Panic. After you finish panicking, you need to determine two threshold issues.

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Argle-Bargle, Mumbo Jumbo, and Other Legal Gobbledygook

Just what is “argle-bargle,” and why would any appellate justice—much less one of Justice Scalia’s stature—use such a phrase in a momentous judicial opinion?

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Astroturfing to Technethics, the New Vocabulary of Ethics

New technology brings new words, and the evolution of legal ethics and social media is no different. Fun terms like "astroturfing" and "technethics" have joined the discussion.

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Your Favorite Author And The Power of Persuasion

Thinking about what non-legal writing you find persuasive and a joy to read can help you be a better legal writer.