legal writing

Using Microsoft Word’s Table of Authorities

If you regularly have to produce legal briefs in Microsoft Word, you already know that one of the most painful tasks occurs at the end: compiling the Table of Authorities. Here's how to mark citations and insert a Table of Authorities in your next brief.

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.

Mechanical Keyboards Are the New Fountain Pens

Mechanical keyboards look better and feel better than that horrible stock laptop that came with your desktop PC.

Marc Randazza, Klingon Lawyer

In this amicus brief, Randazza doesn’t just make the argument that Klingon has all the elements of a living language, he shows it.

Write Better Legal Documents with an Editing Checklist

Your first draft is never perfect. Better your writing and arguments with an editorial checklist.

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 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.

Spell-Checkers Won’t Catch These Usage Bungles

Does your spell- and grammar-checker proof your writing and make your usage decisions? Some common usage errors should make you think twice.

Podcast #44: Typography for Lawyers, with Matthew Butterick

Why should you care about typography? That’s like asking why you should practice for an oral argument or wear a tie to court. If you aren’t already using Matthew Butterick’s typography guide for lawyers, you’ll snap up a copy after you listen to this podcast. Crowdfunding Lawsuits Crowdfunding is all the rage, these days, and […]

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, the Guide makes some important recommendations in favor of the active voice, plain language, and more elegant typography.

10 Takeaways from Typography for Lawyers

Matthew Butterick's Typography for Lawyers is a book about legal typography that every person serious about good legal writing should own.

We Tried to Create the Worst Legal Writing Possible

Legalese is awful. To prove it, Sam Glover, Lisa Needham, and I combined forces to write the worst piece of legal writing we could. Here’s what we came up with: Clarity in Legal Writing: Unattainable Goal or Necessary Component of Effective Advocacy? The issue of clearness and conciseness in writing and preparing legal documents, e.g. court filings, pleadings, […]

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.