ABA Journal

Legal Writing

326 ABA Journal Legal Writing articles.

How to craft your legal writing on the clock

Recall the situation: It’s the first day of your new job as an assistant attorney general in your state. You’re an experienced litigator, and you put in for the position touting your skill as a writer. You were told that it would be a demanding job, but you figured that your experience in private practice has been as demanding as anything the new position might present.

New AI-powered legal writing tool aims to help lawyers craft winning briefs

A gratifying legal victory sparked Jacqueline Schafer’s desire to create a legal technology product that would help other lawyers efficiently craft case-winning briefs full of compelling evidence. Clearbrief is an AI-powered legal writing tool.

Legal historian John Fabian Witt discusses new book on epidemics and law

Retired BigLaw partner tells tales of lawyers, FBI and kidnapping epidemic of 1930s in new book

Any discussion of kidnapping during the early 20th century calls to mind the 1932 abduction and killing of aviator Charles Lindbergh’s toddler son. But as Carolyn Cox demonstrates, kidnapping for ransom extended far beyond the “crime of the century.”

Colorful judicial writing style undermines legitimacy of opinions, law prof argues

Judges who write colorful opinions that are lively and engaging are undermining the integrity of the judicial role and the legitimacy of opinions, a law professor has argued in an upcoming law review article.

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.

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