Brendan Kenny

Brendan Kenny

Brendan Kenny is an attorney at Blackwell Burke PA in Minneapolis, Minnesota practicing in the areas of toxic tort, products liability, and other complex litigation. He is convinced that the legal system would work better if attorneys thought more like trial lawyers and less like litigators.

The Secret Style Guide the Supreme Court Doesn’t Want You to Read

You can't get any higher than supreme. So when the public gets a glimpse into the inner workings of the Supreme Court, it's a big deal.

Lawyers, Stop Writing (and Saying) These Things Immediately

Wherever lawyers stand on legalese, they should, at least, stand on reason.

Brendan Kenny

First Look: LegalBoard

The LegalBoard is a keyboard designed just for lawyers. It gives you one-click access things lawyers need frequently, such as legal symbols, portions of citations, and track changes. Here is our first look.

Lawyers, Ignore The Power of Visuals at Your Own Peril

Sometimes, visuals are the key to understanding—or even winning—a case, but lawyers routinely fail to use them.

Hey Hey, Ho Ho, 19th Century Fonts Have Got to Go

Lawyers are fixated on fonts and typographical rules that went out of style decades ago. We can do better.

Why Hyperbole Will Destroy Your Case and Understatement Will Save It

Lawyers often give in to the temptation of overstatement and bombast, but attorneys can often strengthen their case with understatement instead.

Brendan Kenny

How Scare Quotes Are Saving Legal Writing

If lawyers stop disarming themselves by using legalese, maybe they won't need scare quotes. Until then, we'll have to put up with them. A baby step in the right direction is much better than nothing.

The Death of Leading Questions?

Watch a cross-examination from almost any televised trial. You'll probably find it's pretty bad. Check out these videos of cross-examination dos and don'ts.

Brendan Kenny

The Best Moments From Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney

Who is Phoenix Wright? He's an improbable video game trial lawyer whose only superpower is that he's a really good lawyer... sort of. Gamemaker Capcom describes him as" the rookie defense lawyer new to the scene with the wildest cross-examination skills in town." That's one way of putting it.

How the Solicitor General’s Style Guide Calls Out Bad Legal Writing

In addition to taking a stand in favor of the case law usage, this guide makes some important recommendations in favor of the active voice & plain language.

Want To Destroy Your Case? Throw In The Kitchen Sink.

Before we were even lawyers, law school trained us to find the most creative arguments possible, and to never leave one out. That’s how we passed our Torts exam—we identified 18 causes of action in a simple slip-and-fall hypothetical. But now we’re in the real world of law practice. The Stakes Are High If your […]

Brendan Kenny

How to Use Character Judgments to Win Arguments

There’s no getting around moral judgments. We all make judgments; juries are no exception. Trial consultant Dr. Ken Broda-Bahm describes how this works: …the ability to identify good people matters far more than the ability to identify good acts….[W]e often mix our views of consequences with our views of character. Even harmless actions are more likely to be worthy […]

Brendan Kenny

This Is What Happens When Lawyers Try To Be Funny

Attempts at humor usually fall flat. —Guide for Counsel in Cases to Be Argued Before the Supreme Court of the United States, Part II, pg. 10 (October Term 2014). So says the highest court in the land, but it hasn’t stopped lawyers from trying to be funny. This is what happens when they fail. Knock-Knock […]

Brendan Kenny

How Cross-Examination Bullying Can Wreck Your Case

When a lot of lawyers think of cross-examination, they think of a fight-to-the-death cage match between the lawyer and the witness. They think of scenes like these from prosecutor Juan Martinez’s cross-examination of Jodi Arias: Those of you who don’t want to do cross-examination like this can breathe easy—there’s a better way. You’ve guessed it; […]

Brendan Kenny

Lawyers Whose Direct Examinations Sound Like James Joyce Novels

Direct examination is one of the most important parts of trial. It is your vehicle for establishing the key facts in your case, laying the foundation for your evidence, and connecting with a jury. An effective direct examination doesn’t happen by accident. As Gerry Spence notes, it must be part of a bigger narrative: If […]