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Use Storytelling Techniques to Make Your Briefs More Persuasive

You’ve undoubtedly had the experience of reading a book that’s so compelling you can’t put it down. You can make your briefs more compelling—and therefore more persuasive—to the judges and law clerks who read them by applying in your briefs the same storytelling techniques used by creative writers. In fiction, stories have three primary elements: […]

What judges hate about your briefs: top five takeaways from survey results

Recently, legal-writing expert Ross Guberman surveyed thousands of judges about their legal-writing preferences. Judges at all levels—from state trial-court judges to U.S. Supreme Court Justices—weighed in on a variety of subjects, from formatting conventions to word choice, persuasive strategies, use of case law and treatment of facts. You can read Guberman’s report on some of […]

Defamation Plaintiff Beats Buzzfeed at its Own Clickbait Game

Last week, lawyers for the plaintiffs in a defamation case against the hugely popular website Buzzfeed gave the site a taste if its own medicine. In the case, the plaintiffs sought damages for defamation following Buzzfeed’s publication of a dossier linking them to unsavory conduct and characters surrounding Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential […]

How to Write Effective Argument Headings

Argument headings (also called point headings) play two important roles in legal briefs. First, they serve a rhetorical purpose: they let the reader know what’s addressed in the text that follows and (if effectively phrased) point the reader toward the conclusion the writer wants the reader to draw. Second, they serve a practical purpose. Unfortunately, […]

3 Easy-to-Keep Legal-Writing Resolutions for 2017

Losing weight, saving more and getting organized are popular New Year’s resolutions for personal improvement. Similar resolutions can help you improve your legal writing. To make these legal-writing resolutions easy to keep, each resolution is accompanied with concrete implementation tips. Cut the fat from your briefs by editing for concision. Losing weight is a perennially popular […]

Texas Supreme Court Justice is as Memorable in Opinions as in 140 Characters

Texas Supreme Court Justice Don Willett is known for many things: for being Texas’s “Tweeter Laureate”; for being on Donald Trump’s short list of potential Supreme Court justices despite repeatedly mocking the candidate on Twitter; and for being one of the best writers on the bench today. His recent concurring opinion in Patel v. Texas […]

Second Edition of Typography for Lawyers Should Be on Every Lawyer’s Bookshelf

If you’re not a legal-writing nerd like me, you may be skeptical about whether good typography really has any effect on the persuasiveness of a brief. After all, I’m sure you’ve received at least one decision that made you wonder if the judge even saw your brief, much less read it. But, as Matthew Butterick […]

How Judges are Reading Today, and What that Means for Legal Writers

For the last few years, I’ve been particularly interested in what the shift to paperless courts—spurred by the ubiquity of electronic filing at the federal level and its expansion at the state level—means for legal writers. Through my CLE course, Pixel Persuasion: Legal Writing for the 21st Century, I’ve shared what I’ve learned about how […]

Product Review: Is Best Authority the Best Choice for Your Firm?

Although rules in all state and federal appellate courts; many federal district courts; and some state trial-level courts require that every brief submitted contain a table of authorities (TOA), many solo and small firm lawyers don’t know how to create a TOA using Microsoft Word’s native “Table of Authorities” feature. Best Authority is a Microsoft […]