ABA Journal

Practice Matters

36 ABA Journal Practice Matters articles.

What’s wrong with legal writing?

By diminishing law students’ belief in the power of storytelling, we rob them of the creativity and legal imagination crucial for effective lawyering, writes Philip N. Meyer, a professor at Vermont Law School and the author of Storytelling for Lawyers.

Bryan Garner touts the Michigan Bar Journal’s celebration of plain English

The Michigan Bar Journal has just reached a landmark of 37 years in sustaining its monthly column on plain language in the law. Over the years, the column has exploded all the various myths about plain language in the law.

Florida Supreme Court order on diversity in CLEs devalues the legal profession’s inclusion goals, experts say

11 survival tips for first-year associates

Even many summer associate positions fail to provide a realistic picture of what it is like to be an associate—or worse, they intentionally paint a false picture. After years of living through, talking about and guiding others through this process—including doing so formally as part of our firm’s associate development committee—we thought we would pass along some tips to the next generation of young associates.

How to budget your day while moving through your motions

Let’s review the situation: You’re an experienced litigator, and it’s your first day of work as assistant attorney general in your state. You’ve just finished the first of three motions that are due today. You’ve written a one-page motion to consolidate two cases in the state supreme court.

There is strength in silence

Three of the most essential tools that should be in every lawyer’s toolbox are silence, active listening and critical thinking. And they are connected.

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.

Can replacing hierarchies with a hive mentality transform our profession?

A hive switch is a phenomenon that occurs when individuals realize they have become part of and fused within a collective; they transcend self-interest and invest in something larger than themselves.

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.

What is a lawyer’s ethical duty to check out a client’s claim before filing an action?

When a lawyer files an action based on an unfounded legal theory, he or she could be subject to sanctions or disciplinary action ranging up to disbarment. Experts say lawyers have a duty to investigate whether their clients’ accusations have support or are without merit.

Do origin stories define or help refine constitutional interpretation?

All lawyers are storytellers. And Supreme Court justices are not exceptions. Outcomes in constitutional law are typically predicated upon the stories the justices tell—interpretations of foundational “origin stories”—that shape understandings of the law and who we are as a people, writes Philip N. Meyer.

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.

How close can you be to opposing counsel without it being a conflict of interest?

How can lawyers find flow?

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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