More Than One Way to Skin the Legal Writing Cat

Apologies to those who tire quickly of worn-out phrases (and animal lovers everywhere) but there’s more than one way to skin the legal writing cat. In other words, there’s plenty of room for creativity in your legal writing.

First, let’s define “legal writing” broadly as anything law-related, from blogging about the law to writing trial briefs.

Now, let’s talk about cartoons.

Five-page Cartoon Submitted as Friend-of-the-Court Brief

In response to the judge’s request that he limit his brief to five pages, RoyaltyShare CEO Bob Kohn took his 93-pager about e-book pricing and turned it into a five page cartoon, in which Kohn and his daughter play roles.

As Julie Bosman reports for the New York Times, Kohn said:

I thought of the idea of using pictures which, as we know, paint a thousand words.

The case involved a lawsuit brought by the Justice Department against major online publishers, including Apple, alleging price-fixing in regard to e-books.

The cartoon argues in favor of price-fixing in limited circumstances.

If you feel like reading about law and economics and supply and demand but don’t want your head to explode, perhaps taking a look at the cartoon is your best bet, in which Kohn and his daughter entertainingly discuss the substantive issues of the case.

But the most interesting part (in terms of legal writing) comes at the end, when Kohn says his daughter should’ve been a lawyer (after having ably discussed the issues with him). She says lawyering isn’t for her, which prompts Kohn to ask why.

She says:

I’m a novelist, and it’s impossible to tell a complex story in only five pages.

Needless to say, this was just an amicus brief, and though the cartoon apparently complied with local court rules regarding 12-point font and one-inch margins, the judge wasn’t persuaded.

Is this just a stunt? Or an example of clear and compelling legal writing?


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