U.S. Supreme Court

Justice Scalia Teams With Writing Expert for Book


Judges have long complained about deficiencies in lawyer advocacy. Now U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia is doing something about it.

Scalia is working with legal writing expert Bryan Garner to write a book on the art of persuasive lawyering.

Scalia said in a statement that he hopes the book on brief-writing and oral argument will help improve lawyer skills—which will benefit judges as well, Legal Times reports.

Garner, who also runs CLE company LawProse Inc., told Legal Times that he recently spent four days with the justice writing and rewriting book chapters. He and Scalia have divided the writing, but with all the changes they make together “we can’t tell anymore which of us wrote which sentence.”

Scalia’s way with words has earned him a reputation of one of the best—and perhaps most acerbic—writers in Supreme Court history. He admits to being a “snoot”—someone who cares about precision in writing.

Yet writing doesn’t come easy for Scalia. His clerks write the first drafts of his opinions. Then he puts those drafts through at least five edits, rewriting, shortening or lengthening sections, and changing the order of presentation.

“Justice Scalia is a very serious student of advocacy,” Garner said. “The idea is that we can make an important contribution to legal literature … and discuss basic principles of argumentation, rhetoric, and judicial persuasion.”

Scalia described the book this way through a spokesman: “The object of the book is to make available, in a compact and (we hope) readable format, what we think to be the best advice on how to argue a case. It covers both brief-writing and oral argument. And it includes both advice from modern sources and advice from ancient sources adapted to modern American circumstances. We hope it will be helpful to the bar; if so, it will benefit the bench as well.”

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