ABA Journal

Practice Matters

44 ABA Journal Practice Matters articles.

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.

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

Widespread opposition has emerged regarding a controversial order issued by the Florida Supreme Court in April prohibiting approval of continuing legal education that uses “quotas based upon race, ethnicity, gender, religion, national origin, disability or sexual orientation.”

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.

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