legal writing


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."


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."


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.


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.


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?


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.

library of congress

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.

marriage contract

Faux Words of Precision—Part 1

It's a popular myth that "words of precision" make contracts more precise. This is the first of a two-part series devoted to debunking that myth.

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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.


Zimmerman Prosecution Unlikely To See Ethics Charges

George Zimmerman’s prosecutors should face ethics charges, but they won't.


Judge: “Never send me something unless someone less dumb than you has read it first.”

10 legal writing tips from federal judge Richard Kopf. Among them: "Burn anything that Bryan Garner has written."

legal writing wars-search for precision

Legal Writing Wars: Seeking Precision

In the quest to make their writing precisely clear, lawyers use a number of methods. Few of them make their writing easy to read. And sometimes lawyers intentionally write to make things unclear.

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Origins of the Legal Writing Wars: Constructing Sentences

Most lawyers have enough ability to write readable prose, but their style choices doom them to failure. Many of those choices have historical roots.

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Origins of the Legal Writing Wars, Part Three

Here's the true story of why lawyers became obsessed with the written word.

origins legal writing wars part two

Origins of the Legal Writing Wars, Part Two

This week, we continue our search for the roots of why legal writing is such a godawful mess. Unsurprisingly, it's partly the fault of the French.