Practice Matters

20 ABA Journal Practice Matters articles.

Lessons for lawyers from Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs understood the power of great storytelling. And lawyers’ cases, like Jobs’ beloved products, are the embodiments of stories we tell others and ourselves as well. How can we tell those stories better?

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.

Ethics opinion helps define ABA guidance on professional misconduct

The ABA Standing Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility is providing guidance on one of the most debated rules of professional misconduct in recent memory. Adopted in August 2016, ABA Model Rule 8.4(g) arose largely because of the prevalence of sexual harassment in law and at related functions.

4 lessons we can learn as a profession from the pandemic

What are some lessons of this COVID-19 experience for the legal profession? What are some truths that are coming to light? Four initial lessons come to mind for lawyer and author Heidi K. Brown.

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.

Judges must ensure defendants can afford court costs before imposing fines and fees

Judges must take steps to ensure individuals have the ability to pay criminal justice debt before threatening incarceration, revoking probation, exercising contempt powers or considering similar consequences, according to Formal Opinion 490 from the ABA’s Standing Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility.

Lawyers are the directors and set designers of their courtroom dramas

Litigation unfolds upon a stage in the theater of the courtroom. And while combative, compulsive and closed litigation stories are constrained and shaped by evidentiary and legal rules and the meticulous presentation of factual evidence, lawyers are nevertheless the producers, directors and set designers of their own theatrical courtroom dramas.

How to ethically respond to negative reviews from clients

Attorneys who receive negative online reviews may feel compelled to respond, especially if the reviews are unfair or inaccurate. Formal and informal ethics opinions issued throughout the country consistently agree that attorneys are permitted to respond to negative reviews. But how it’s done is a matter of ethics and professionalism.

‘Good English’ always has been a path to the legal profession

Should schoolchildren be taught standard English grammar? The traditional view, of course, is yes. The contrary position is we shouldn’t insist people learn standard written English. Instead, we should teach everyone to be tolerant of regional and class dialects—not just accents but dialects.

Let’s mend our profession by exploring the mental and the physical

Our profession is making great strides to commit to lawyer well-being initiatives. Yet some law office managers and junior attorneys wonder how to realistically approach matters of mental, physical and emotional health while balancing real expectations.

If you’re a lawyer who’s not writing and editing like a pro, get to work

“In my office, colleagues are evaluated on the worth of their edits: Everyone is expected to make the types of edits that professionals at the copy desks of major magazines would make. The idea is that the final product should sing,” says Bryan A. Garner, president of LawProse Inc.

Disbarred attorneys trying to get their licenses back face an uphill battle

It’s often said the ability to practice law is a privilege, not a right. It’s difficult enough to obtain a law license, and losing one can be devastating both personally and professionally. Attorneys who face the ignominy of disbarment and later seek reinstatement face high hurdles that are sometimes insurmountable.

Films that become Hollywood blockbusters reveal popular skepticism about the rule of law

Pictures are worth more than a thousand words—especially when sequenced into moving pictures. Our imaginations are fueled by the consumption of high-octane visual stories. The American cinema is, in the words of film historian Robert Ray, “one of the most potent ideological tools ever constructed.”

Legal writers can learn a lot from these unparalleled unpublished opinions

In Bryan A. Garner’s view, Judge Thomas M. Reavley of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals shows us how to spend more time thinking and less time writing.

Is it time to reevaluate the standard for legal malpractice in criminal cases?

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