ABA Journal

Practice Matters

53 ABA Journal Practice Matters articles.

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

Grammar Rules: The case of the unhyphenated phrasal adjectives

Before this honorable court is the complaint of Marian Short-Dash, who accuses her local newspaper, the Blunderbuss Clarion, of omitting “obligatory hyphens” from phrasal adjectives, thereby impairing her ability to read without annoyance.

If you want to retain more women in law firms, ask women what they need

“I spent nearly 10 years at a world-class international law firm that had disproportionately more men than women at the partnership level,” says attorney Megan Elizabeth Gray. “And while the number of women who entered the firm was the same as men, the number of women who left was greater. Why was that? It was a question I devoted a lot of time to exploring.”

Bryan Garner shares brief-writing advice from the late Supreme Court Justice Wiley B. Rutledge

Readers of this column are familiar with my occasionally interviewing long-dead authors. Today’s interviewee is U.S. Supreme Court Justice Wiley B. Rutledge (1894–1949).

To recuse or not? Investigations into federal judges’ financial interests spark debate

In September, the Wall Street Journal reported that between 2010 and 2018, more than 130 federal judges failed to recuse themselves from 685 cases in which they or family members owned stock. When brought to their attention, the judges offered all manner of reasons for the statutory violations, including flawed internal procedures, lack of awareness that their spouse’s holdings mandated recusal and the mistaken belief that shares in an account run by a money manager were an exception.

What elite athletes like Naomi Osaka and Simone Biles can teach lawyers about performance anxiety

Whether you are a law student, a litigator or a premier athlete such as Osaka or Biles, if you feel unsafe in that environment, no amount of badgering or cajoling or “just do it” or “fake it till you make it” mentality is going to work. What does work?

How to effectively use legal dictionaries

Many dictionary users don’t realize the extent of the improvements that take place from edition to edition of a dictionary. Perhaps that’s especially true with Black’s Law Dictionary, which has been substantially remade over the past quarter-century.

Prosecutorial ethics are getting a fresh look from criminal justice reformers

With the renewed focus on criminal justice reform, ethics complaints involving prosecutors are making the news and taking center stage. Prosecutorial decision-making is often less scrutinized or punished by courts and professional conduct boards. But the stakes are high in criminal cases, and ethics experts say whether they are intentional or negligent, there isn’t enough focus on behind-the-scenes actions in DA offices.

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.

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