Legal Writing

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Which Do You Use: Decisionmaking, Decision Making, or Decision-Making?

Recently, UCLA Law School Professor Stephen Bainbridge wrote about his allegiance to writing “decision making” as two words. In support, he cites the Chicago Manual of Style. I think that the Manual actually makes a...more

What’s With The “U” In Guarantee (Or Should That Be Guaranty)?

Spelling and pronouncing English words can be a challenge. I’ve often been puzzled by the word “guarantee”. What’s the point of including the unpronounced “u”? The word is derived from an Old French word, garantir meaning...more

6 Tips On Legal Writing From A Former Federal Law Clerk

In litigation, first impressions frequently are made through the written word. Professional, coherent and accurate writing is crucial to establishing a good reputation with the court, and ultimately winning your case....more

Synecdoche And The California Corporations Code

Synecdoche is a literary trope by which one refers the whole by a component, or vice versa. The word is derived from an ancient Greek word, su?e?d???, which means understanding one thing with another. Although I was first...more

Was Shakespeare “Sometimes Like a Lawyer”? Legal Writing With The Bard

William Shakespeare breathed his last on April 23rd, 1616, so this April 23rd marks 400 years since his death. It is also, supposedly, his 452nd birthday. Putting aside the oft-silly conspiracy theories and multitudinous...more

Just How Many Errors Can Be Found In The Securities Act?

I’ve recently completed my editing of the annual update to Marsh & Volk’s treatise, Practice Under the California Securities Laws. One source of frustration has been to account for and explain the numerous technical errors...more

Why Lawyer Newsletters SUCK!

The biggest problem facing lawyers is obscurity. If no one knows who you are, your technical skills as a lawyer are meaningless. Getting an introduction to prominent, influential referral partners is just the beginning. You...more

Specific and Manageable Ideas for Enhancing Legal Briefs

Writing is central to what we do, and I enjoy thinking about what makes writing effective. In this article, I raise several specific ideas for how to enhance legal writing. The ideas revolve around the notion of what I call...more

With Periphrasis, “Success in Circuit Lies”

I initially titled Tuesday’s post “The Staff’s Position On Unbundling Gets Even Weirder” but I ultimately elected to substitute “More Weird” for “Weirder”. What I was struggling with was whether to use the comparative or...more

Enjoining The Correct Spelling

In yesterday’s post, I wrote about Judge Leigh Martin May had issued a ruling enjoining a SEC administrative proceeding. Presumably, Judge May has or will issue an injunction. This leads me to question why the verb is...more

Why The Capitol Is In The Capital?

Article III, Section 2 of the California Constitution provides that “Sacramento is the capital of California”.  The building in which the legislators meet, however, is denominated the “capitol” building.  Thus, the state...more

“Conforming With” May Not Be “Pursuant To”

Lawyers often will write “pursuant to [name of law or regulation]” without expecting the phrase to be the source of controversy.  But language is an inherently ambiguous tool and lawyers will, if adequately feed, argue about...more

INTERPOL’s CCF- How plain and clear responses will reduce the workload and increase transparency

Some of the best advice I ever received was from a professor who told my law school class to “knock off the legal mumbo-jumbo” and just speak plainly, so people can understand you.  When lawyers speak in legal-ese or in...more

Practical Rhetoric – Pleading & Plausibility

There’s lots of recent scholarship complaining about how pleading standards have gotten too stringent. Professor Anne Ralph of Ohio State University Law School believes she’s found a solution. In her article in the Yale...more

"In Praise of Law Reviews (And Jargon-Filled, Academic Writing)"

That is the title of a forthcoming article by Cass Sunstein in the Michigan Law Review. Sunstein has unusual standing to make this case because, in addition to his academic perches at Chicago and Harvard Law, he was tapped...more

Grammatical Gender And The General Corporation Law

Many, but not all languages, employ grammatical gender.  Anyone who has studied Spanish or German will know that grammatical gender is essential and can be unrelated to biological sex.  For example, el vestido is a masculine...more

Know What You Are and Are Not Giving Up in a Release

Because over 95 percent of civil disputes are resolved without a final judgment, parties routinely enter into settlement agreements that include releases. Further, for those disputes that do not spawn formal litigation, it is...more

Do You Proffer, Profer, or Prefer A Complaint?

Section 10404 of the California Corporations Code provides that corporations for the prevention of cruelty to animals may “proffer a complaint against any person, before any court or magistrate having jurisdiction, for the...more

Magna Carta Friday: A Definitive Article About A Definite Article

In English, we have two articles – “the” is the definite article and “a/an” is the indefinite article.  Latin, on the other hand, lacks articles, definite or indefinite.   Indeed, the great first century Roman rhetorician...more

The Roundup: This Week’s Recommended Reading (Mar 6, 2014)

Welcome to The Roundup for the week ending March 6. We have lots of thought-provoking pieces to share this week. From Around the Web - What is Good Legal Writing? To find success as a lawyer, it’s critical to be...more

Contract-Drafting Bulletin - February 2015, Vol.1 Issue 1

In this issue: - Does Quality Contract Drafting Matter? - Shall I Dispense with ‘Shall’? Not Entirely - Interview with a Commercial Litigator - World of Boxing LLC v. King - Comments to a...more

Decreasing Ambiguity in Claims

A well-written claim should not be ambiguous. At least, that is one goal. Yet, language is full of imprecision, many words have multiple dictionary definitions, and ofttimes lengthy and complex grammatical constructions in...more

Legal Writing: Speak Freely (But Plainly, Please!)

“This petition . . . ask[s] this Court to unmistakably clarify, to the whole patent community, that its Mayo/Biosig/Alice decisions (“3 decisions”) ended the claim construction anomaly hampering especially ET CIs – but meet,...more

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

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

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