Legal Writing

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"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 101

Do you feel like you learned a lot about contract law in law school, but very little on how to actually draft one? You’re not alone. Check out these principles of contract structure and organization, and you’ll have no...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

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

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

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