ABA Journal

Practice Matters

58 ABA Journal Practice Matters articles.

A Tale of Two Careers: Bestselling author advises lawyers who want to also write novels

When my first novel hit bookstores, there was one question my lawyer friends couldn’t help but ask: “Are you going to keep practicing law?” I told them I loved being a lawyer and saw no reason to quit, to which the typical response was something along the lines of “Gee, I’m really sorry, I hope your next book does better.”

How to frame a legal issue: Part II

A great boon to clarity results from rejecting the four traditional dogmas about framing a legal issue.

Should it be an ethical obligation to report other lawyers?

Lawyers are often in the best position to know about the misconduct of other lawyers. Most states have adopted the language of ABA Model Rule 8.3, which triggers a mandatory reporting obligation. But not all states have the requirement.

8 types of clients you must manage in your legal practice

How a client behaves may not only negatively impact a firm and its lawyers: Untrustworthy clients may also pose a professional responsibility risk. A lawyer who practices virtually and in real time has developed some tips to manage the untrustworthy client as well as other difficult clients.

4 Dogmas Debunked: How to frame a legal issue, Part I

“During my first week of law school in August 1981, we were put through a legal-methods course taught by senior faculty. My small section was led by a respected professor who taught us ‘four essentials’ for stating legal issues,” writes ABA Journal columnist Bryan A. Garner.

Take a self-deposition to steer your retirement strategy

“You might be grappling with questions around retirement, or perhaps you’re feeling the effects of practicing law in challenging times. If you’re feeling out of sorts in your practice, retirement plans or personal life, may I suggest a solution that worked for me? Look no further than your own legal training and experience.”

Word Game: ‘The denotations might be the same; the connotations are entirely different’

So many things can be characterized positively, rather neutrally and extremely negatively. For word-lovers, inventing examples of trifurcated terminology can be a great parlor game.

Watch out for these ethical constraints and pitfalls when speaking with the media

Most attorney speech about cases and the judicial system qualifies as political speech, which represents the core values behind the First Amendment. But attorneys are officers of the court, and their speech rights are limited in comparison with those of others.

6 storytelling do’s and don’ts for lawyers

Lawyers all over the world struggle with storytelling. To become better storytellers, lawyers need to leave the insulated world of legal practitioners and study what makes other professional storytellers—like novelists, journalists, advertisers and filmmakers—effective.

4 principles of legal writing Bryan Garner learned from clerking at the 5th Circuit

“Whenever I’m writing, I always try to keep the Reavley principles in mind. Even though Judge Reavley wasn’t much interested in grammar, he taught me more about legal writing than anybody else.”

Avoiding Unlawful Client Solicitation: Attorneys must ensure subordinates know the dos and don’ts

Most attorneys understand they must refrain from improper solicitation of potential clients for pecuniary gain, but a new formal opinion clarifies that practitioners must go even further. Beyond their own actions, lawyers are obligated to train their employees to avoid similarly unlawful solicitous behavior.

How to respond when you hear, ‘You don’t look like a lawyer!’

How many times have you heard, “You don’t look like a lawyer”? Ask most women and minority lawyers if they have had this experience, and they’ll reply with a resounding yes.

How to verify proper spelling and understand that words change over time

A law office is a kind of publishing house. We issue legal documents to be read sometimes by small audiences, sometimes by large ones. Because we’re a literary profession, we want to get things right.

Should the Model Rules have a due diligence standard for money laundering?

In recent years, concerns have arisen over whether attorneys have failed to exercise due diligence in ensuring their clients are not engaged in money laundering. Those concerns escalate when the money laundering may be tied to the financing of terrorism-related activities.

No Return: How I learned to find work-life balance during the COVID-19 pandemic

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