191 ABA Journal articles on Legal Writing.
To Bryan Garner, editor-in-chief of Black’s Law Dictionary
, Justice Antonin Scalia was a friend, a mentor, a collaborator and a fellow lover of words. In the wake of Scalia’s death on Feb. 13, 2016, Garner reflected back over their relationship, from their first brief introduction in 1988 to the trip they took to Asia together in the last weeks of Scalia’s life. Those reflections turned into his latest book, Nino and Me: My Unusual Friendship with Justice Antonin Scalia
Jan 17, 2018 8:30 AM CST
Before Neil M. Gorsuch became a U.S. Supreme Court justice, a study of potential Supreme Court nominees had rated him as more “Scalia-like” than Chief Justice John G. Roberts…
Jan 16, 2018 8:00 AM CST
“All styles are good,” Voltaire said, “except that which bores.” The good writer, in other words, frets a little about piquing the reader’s interest sentence by sentence, paragraph by paragraph—never descending into unremittingly dull stretches. The French even have a word for those dull stretches: longueurs
Jan 1, 2018 3:00 AM CST
Many writers mistakenly think it’s the beginning: They begin a disproportionate number of sentences with the grammatical subject, and they rarely depart from the subject-verb-object pattern. Boring legal writers create paragraphs of sentence after sentence beginning with a client’s or litigant’s name; interesting writers, by contrast, spice their prose with syntactic variety.
Dec 1, 2017 1:05 AM CST
What's the single most important sentence-level reform in transactional drafting? It’s a seemingly simple idea that would require massive retraining of lawyers. Here’s the proposition: With few exceptions, every list in a contract or other transactional instrument should be set off and indented (with a hanging indent, mind you).
Nov 1, 2017 1:25 AM CDT
The terms emoji and emoticon—the keyboard-created forerunner of emojis—have cropped up in about 80 U.S. court opinions to date, with about half the case references within the last two years.
Oct 1, 2017 3:50 AM CDT
Take the Editor’s Quiz: Give these briefs a minimalist edit—confining yourself to outright errors. In each sentence that follows, find one or more glaring errors and one or more venial errors.
Oct 1, 2017 2:40 AM CDT
What do lawyers and lexicographers have in common? The main job of both is to determine the meaning of words.
In this episode of the Modern Law Library, the ABA Journal's Lee Rawles talks with Kory Stamper about her work as a lexicographer and editor for Merriam-Webster; her new book, Word by Word: The Secret Life of Dictionaries
; and her position as chief defender of the word "irregardless."
Jul 19, 2017 8:30 AM CDT
It’s often said that you must know the rules before you break them. But why is that, exactly?
Jul 1, 2017 1:20 AM CDT
If, in persuasive writing, your opening words must arouse your reader’s attention, your closing words must somehow prompt your reader to act.
May 1, 2017 1:40 AM CDT
The author of a 1984 Indiana Law Journal article says she isn’t troubled by U.S. Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch’s use of sentences that closely track her own in his book on assisted suicide.
Apr 5, 2017 10:40 AM CDT
Bob Dylan is, by far, the most-cited songwriter or popular artist in American judicial opinions. And these citations are not merely add-ons or throwaways.
Apr 1, 2017 2:50 AM CDT
An effective opener involves stating the problem to be solved. After all, what is a motion? It’s a request to resolve a specific problem by entering a specific order.
Apr 1, 2017 2:30 AM CDT
They’ve confessed to murders they didn’t commit, were mistakenly identified by unreliable witnesses, and have been convicted on phony evidence and false testimony. Many endured decades in prison before the truth would set them free.Every one of the wrongfully convicted has a compelling story, and a group of top-notch mystery and thriller writers was recruited to help tell some of those tales in a new book, Anatomy of Innocence: Testimonies of the Wrongfully Convicted.
Mar 1, 2017 4:30 AM CST
Most of us know the elements of an effective opening statement: Tell a good story, weaving the evidence with themes that will resonate with the jurors’ common sense and life experiences. But what’s the best way to do that? Bang the table or shoot the breeze? Attack immediately or hold your fire? Most important, how can you connect with the jury—a panel of strangers who can’t talk back but who will determine the fate of your case?
Mar 1, 2017 3:30 AM CST
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