Tuesday, January 29, 2013

On Writing

In the February 2013 Edition of "Arizona Attorney," the official journal of the State Bar of Arizona, there is an excellent article titled "Writing Maketh an Exact Man" written by Attorney Robert J. McWhirter.  Here are excerpts which I found particular good--

Preparation before writing is important--

If I had eight hours to chop down a tree, I'd spend six hours sharpening my ax. -- Abraham Lincoln.

The purpose of the brief--

The secret ambition of every brief should be to spare the judge the necessity of engaging in any work, mental or physical. -- Mortimer Levitan

Brevity and clarity are essential in a well-written legal brief--

A judge who realizes that a brief is wordy will skim it; one who finds a brief terse and concise will read every word. -- U.S. Supreme Court Justice Scalia and Bryan Garner

Write well--

Be clear, so the audience understands what is being said.
Be interesting, so the audience will want to listen to what is being said.
Be persuasive, so the audience will agree with what is being said.  -- Cicero

The issue--

You need to give the court a reason you should win that the judge could explain in a sentence or two to a non-lawyer friend.  U.S. Supreme Court Justice Scalia and Bryan Garner

The conclusion--

The conclusion in a brief is not just the major thing.  It's the only thing.  -- Judge Ruggero J. Aldisert.