Good Legal Writing Is Just Good Writing - Bryan Garner's SCOTUS Interviews, Part I


In 2006 and 2007, legal writing icon Bryan Garner had an amazing opportunity -- he interviewed eight of the nine then-sitting Justices of the United States Supreme Court on legal writing and appellate advocacy. The videotapes have been posted on Garner's LawProse site for a while now, but last year, Garner made the Justices' advice even more accessible, reprinting the transcripts in the journal he founded for the American Society of Legal Writers, the Scribes Journal of Legal Writing.

The transcripts have generated quite a lot of buzz around the law blog world, with posts and commentary at The Wall Street Journal's blog, Rebecca Copeland's Record on Appeal, A Legal Yankee in King Arthur's Court, the Rocky Mountain Appellate Blog and The Legal Times, among many others. Today we begin a four-part series of commentaries on the Garner interviews.

Lawyers are driven, busy people. Sometimes the last thing we want to do on our off hours is read even more. But one of the primary lessons the Justices have to teach us is that there's no special secret to good legal writing; good legal writing is just good writing. As Justice Kennedy said,

“I tell my law clerks, sometimes you can't write anything good because you've never read anything good.”

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