Legal Writing

205 ABA Journal Legal Writing articles.

How do you say it? Try this quiz to evaluate your pronunciation skills
Over time, words can change in spelling, meaning and pronunciation. In this quiz, choose the pronunciation favored in the late 19th century through the 20th.
New web platform helps users research meanings of words used in Constitution, Supreme Court opinions
A web platform that provides law-related historic linguistics information was announced Monday by Brigham Young University’s J. Reuben Clark Law School.
Legal writing pro is helping teach AI to draft contracts (podcast)

Ken Adams has brought his contract expertise to a Pittsburgh artificial intelligence startup.

The transactional lawyer stopped practicing law “the regular way,” as he puts it, in 2006 and devoted…

Supreme Court’s visible edits show misspellings and missteps; is there a ‘minuscule’ error?
The U.S. Supreme Court has corrected misspellings, wrong word choices, missing words and grammatical missteps in several Supreme Court opinions this term, according to a website that reveals the corrections.
Strive for clarity and context in emails that address legal questions
There’s a widespread problem in the way junior lawyers answer questions by email. They tend to respond to moderately complex legal questions merely with answers—without explicitly repeating the question.
Can a town be a museum? A case may hinge on the precision of definitions
Does the usual meaning of a word carry over to a legal definition? The 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on this question in a case involving sports hero Jim Thorpe.
Gaining the confidence to write what you have to say

When I started my law blog in June 2016, I did so without too much trepidation. I was essentially briefing cases and writing about my practice in ways I was…

Inclusive legal writing: We can honor good grammar and societal change at the same time
To effect change, we can set an example through precision in our own word choices. When in doubt about the proper pronoun or title, choose the correct and inclusive one or respectfully ask.
Law review editors missed a few, so we have this usage skills quiz for you
Law review editors do their best to comply with prevailing literary usage. In this quiz, the language hasn’t yet come close to accepting the “incorrect” choices as standard written English.
Bryan Garner reflects on his friendship with Justice Antonin Scalia in ‘Nino and Me’ (podcast)
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.
Kavanaugh lands in top six in ‘Scalia-ness’ ranking of SCOTUS contenders; who is No. 1?

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…

Writing vs. Good Writing: Make the languorous doldrums of reading disappear
“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.
How to start a sentence
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.
Of lists and tabs: Transforming transactional drafts to make sense
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).
Emojis Head to a Courthouse Near You
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.

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