Legal Writing

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A Few Things To Avoid When Filing A Brief In The Middle District Of North Carolina

United States District Court Judge Catherine Eagles of the Middle District of North Carolina delivered an admonition last week to all of the lawyers with cases in her Court....more

Turn Legalese into Plain English

A contract shouldn’t require a Latin-English dictionary to understand it! In fact, there’s generally no reason to use Latin terms or formal legal language (legalese) at all. Use plain English to be sure the contracts and...more

These Words Enjoy Only A Negative Existence

Some words seem to exist only in the negative. One such word is “uncouth”, which means lacking refinement. For example, the Court of Appeal in People v. Williamson, 207 Cal. App. 2d 839 (1962) upheld a conviction for...more

Use Block Quotes Carefully and Sparingly

Format selected block quotes for easy reading. Many readers find the dense text of standard block quotes tiresome enough to read that they may skip over the blocks entirely. Istvan & Ricks, Top 10 Ways to Write a Bad Brief,...more

As Samuel Goldwyn Reportedly Said: “Include Me Out”

A lawyer aims at precision that can never be achieved because of the bluntness of his tool – language. Consider the word “including”. Is it a term of enlargement or limitation? It is a term of enlargment when the intent is...more

The Secret to Better Legal Writing  [Video]

Helpful tips from CEB blog manager Julie Brook. Learn the secret to better legal writing and get specific examples on how you can improve your next brief....more

String Citations

String cites are almost universally condemned. Judges at all levels criticize string cites. Minority and dissenting judges criticize majorities that use string cites, and vice versa but to a lesser extent. Attorneys criticize...more

Top Ten Issues when Drafting International Agreements – Part I

Cross-border agreements come in all shapes and sizes, from manufacturing agreements to joint ventures, employment contracts to merger agreements. Each type has its own quirks, but we can boil down the most common legal issues...more

Inventors Take Note: Supreme Court to Decide How Ambiguous is Too Ambiguous for Patents

In a case argued in April, Nautilus v. Biosig Instruments, the U.S. Supreme Court is being asked to decide the question “how ambiguous can a patent claim be before it is invalid?” Regardless of the Court’s decision, the case...more

JDB 055: Classic JDBlogger – Interview with Spencer Haws of Niche Pursuits

Have you ever looked at the law firms at the top of the Google results and wonder what they have that you don’t? In this week’s episode of the JDBlogger Podcast I interview Spencer Haws the owner of the popular blog and...more

Respecting Boilerplate

Boilerplate refers to the legal clauses of general application typically found at the very front and very end of complex agreements (or the flip side of printed forms, or the “click-through” screens of online forms). This...more

Mainebiz Real Estate Insider – Enfeoffing Your Emblements: Losing Lawyer Language

The next time you review a deed that you receive from your lawyer, check it for the word “behoof.” It typically occurs in the phrase “..and to its and their use and behoof forever.” If you find it, call your attorney and ask...more

The Roundup: This Week’s Recommended Reading

Welcome to The Roundup for the week ending April 18. We have lots of thought-provoking pieces to share this week. From Around the Web - - From War Zone To Heartbreak To Successful Law Practice: A JAG Corp...more

Fourteen Tips To Make You A Better Litigator

Thirty-plus years as a litigator have taught me some ways to bring out my best as a litigator in writing motions, in the courtroom, and in the tumble of daily practice. I suspect these tips may work for you too. Pick a...more

An Utterly Disingenuous Post About The Resolutely Hyperbolic Nature of Legal Writing

During my time at Beloit College, I spent too much time playing frisbee golf, drinking Keystone Light, and getting mad at Ryan Schur and Chris Deszynski while playing FIFA 2005 even though I knew their only purpose in playing...more

Clear Writing Through Purposeful Sentences

Clear writing makes winning more likely. Why? Consider our courts’ workloads. A federal district court judge, on average, annually handles over five hundred filings. The federal appellate courts annually...more

Just What Does “Deem” Mean?

The Legislature likes to deem things, but what does it really intend when it does so? Consider the following examples...more

What should I blog about? 3 simple ways to generate ideas

“What should I blog about?”the_idea_generator_by_debbiefong-d52nyt1 “How can I figure out a new topic every week?” “After my first blog post, I was out of ideas.” I hear these comments all the time. It is...more

The Art of Dissent

One panel at the 2013 Appellate Judges Education Institute Summit focused on dissenting opinions: reasons to write them, their role and possible impact, and the preservation of court collegiality when dissenting. Moderated by...more

Writing as a Signal

Although it was many lost brain cells ago, I can still remember those first days of law school when my classmates and I spent a week or two figuring out how to even read a court decision or legal brief. It struck me as odd...more

5 Written Communication Skills for In-House Counsel

Part of our In-House Perspective series, this article offers five communication skills and methods necessary for the successful in-house counsel. These are suggestions for internal communications in general, rather than for...more

How To Order Your Arguments

As a very general rule, arguments in a brief should appear in order of descending power or importance. A judge may stop reading on reaching a clearly winning argument or on deciding that the opening briefing is so weak as not...more

Eight Tips for Successful Proofing

Careful proofing is as important as excellent writing. Errors and omissions slip into briefs so easily, especially if several people are working on it. There are many good tips for proofing, all best employed a day or more...more

Reading Law: An Indispensable Treatise

In 2012, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia and legal writing expert, Bryan Garner, published Reading Law: The Interpretation of Legal Texts. According to its authors, the purpose of the book is two fold: (1) to promote a...more

Lessons Learned from Litigators: How to Avoid Litigation When Doing a Deal

In this Publication: - 2.1 Introduction 2–1 - 2.2 General Considerations About Contract Drafting 2–2 - § 2.2.1 Does the Contract Reflect a “Meeting of the Minds”? 2–2 - § 2.2.2 The Words of the...more

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