Legal Writing

276 ABA Journal Legal Writing articles.

A conversation with attorney George Critchlow on his new book, ‘The Lifer and the Lawyer’

In his new book, The Lifer and the Lawyer, co-authored by Michael Anderson, an African American man who was charged with committing 22 offenses—including kidnapping, assault and robbery—during a violent crime spree, lawyer George Critchlow recounts his defense of Anderson and how their relationship evolved from attorney-client to a lasting friendship.

Supreme Court rules for Facebook in dispute over texts; justices spar over ‘series-qualifier canon’
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled for Facebook on Thursday in a dispute over the reach of a law that restricts calls to cellphones made with an “automatic telephone dialing system.”
Your recipe for effective legal writing

If it were a baking competition, the judges would be interested in both style and substance. But these aren’t baker judges you’re attending to: They’re judicial officers. They’ll want to see how sound your arguments are, and they’ll be influenced somewhat by the presentation.

3rd Circuit calls out lawyer for ‘copy-and-paste’ appeal, orders him to pay attorney fees
A federal appeals court has ordered a Pennsylvania lawyer to pay his opponents’ appellate legal fees for filing a “frivolous” appeal and submitting a brief “that was essentially a copy of the one he filed in the district court.”
Don’t use this typeface if you want to please the DC Circuit
Brief writers take note: The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit doesn’t like the Garamond typeface.
Justice Thomas goes rogue on the Bluebook with ‘cleaned up’ citation—to the delight of appellate lawyers
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas went rogue on the Bluebook when he embraced an appellate lawyer’s suggestion for dealing with “citation baggage” that comes with some quoted material.
Judge Jed Rakoff discusses new book about how to fix a broken legal system

Judge Jed Rakoff says he has “the world’s greatest job.” Lucky for him, he can have it for life. Rakoff’s good fortune is to be a U.S. district judge. Next month, he’ll celebrate is 25th year at it.

If you can give good directions, you can probably write a good brief

“Someone who can draw a good map can probably write a good brief; someone who can’t draw a good map will undoubtedly write a bad brief,” writes Bryan A. Garner, the president of LawProse Inc.

Polish your writing skills with Bryan Garner’s 2020 advice

As the editor-in-chief of Black’s Law Dictionary, Bryan A. Garner sees a lot of legal writing, both good and bad. Here is a collection of his columns from 2020.

There’s a formula for effectively explaining caselaw

Legal writers are constantly called on to explain things. Among the most difficult and predictably recurrent types of explanation is why a legal precedent bears on a point to be decided. Although every lawyer must be prepared to do this, it’s surprisingly tricky.

Legal journalist Jeffrey Toobin reportedly exposes himself on Zoom, and it has job consequences
Journalist and legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin has been suspended from the New Yorker and is taking a leave from CNN after he reportedly exposed himself on a Zoom call.
Do you use ‘good English’? Test your grammatical skills with this 20-question quiz

Let’s try a 20-question quiz. The object is to select the choice that writers, editors and book publishers have overwhelmingly used over the past several decades. We’re assessing your knack for standard written English. We’re testing your feel for plurals, possessives and subject-verb agreement. These are grammatical issues, not word-choice issues. See how you fare.

‘Persnickety dude’ government lawyer points out New York Times typos on Twitter
An anonymous appellate lawyer who describes himself as a “persnickety dude” tweets typos from the New York Times as a hobby.
Ohio associate with a love of writing wins ABA Journal’s 2020 Ross essay contest for legal fiction

A short story about the first lawyer in a close-knit Black family has been named the winner of the 2020 ABA Journal/Ross Writing Contest for Legal Short Fiction. The author is Daniel M. Best, an associate at Gallagher Sharp in Columbus, Ohio.

How to make the most of your time during the pandemic

Regardless of whether Shakespeare used playhouse closings to write great drama, it’s worth asking yourself: What should I do during periods of isolation? Bryan A. Garner, the president of LawProse Inc., explores.

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