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Monday, March 17, 2014

Bashman on the Increased Availability of Good Legal Writing

At the Legal Intelligencer, Howard Bashman has an article about the importance of good legal writing and how samples of good legal writing are more available in recent years. He writes:

So many young people today graduate high school without learning how to write well, then they graduate college and still haven't learned. Before long, they are graduating law school, having learned to think like a lawyer and, even worse, having perhaps learned to write like a lawyer. At the risk of providing too stark of a choice, writers of appellate briefs must opt either to write like a lawyer or to write in a manner that the reader is likely to find worth reading.
. . .
It is beyond the capacity of this column to teach someone to be a compelling appellate brief writer. But compelling appellate written advocacy typically reflects certain characteristics: clarity of thought and explanation; persuasiveness; and accessibility, producing an ease of understanding no matter how complex the subject matter.
Bashman goes on to list examples of judges who are particularly good writers, and also recommends the United States Solicitor General's website as an excellent source for finding high-quality briefs filed in cases before the Supreme Court. One commentator who has taken advantage of the increased availability of good legal writing is Ross Guberman, whose excellent book, Point Made, not only lists important rules for legal writing, but also provides countless examples of these rules in play from the country's top written advocates.

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