Practice Matters

29 ABA Journal Practice Matters articles.

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.

Model rule revision allows attorneys to help pro bono clients in need

Daniel Greenberg became interested in amending ABA Model Rule 1.8(e) when he realized he’d been in violation of it his entire career.

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.

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