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Legal Writing and Research

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Full-Text Articles in Law

“And/Or” And The Proper Use Of Legal Language, Ira P. Robbins Sep 2019

“And/Or” And The Proper Use Of Legal Language, Ira P. Robbins

Ira P. Robbins

The use of the term and/or is pervasive in legal language. Lawyers use it in all types of legal contexts—including statutes, contracts, and pleadings. Beginning in the 1930s, however, many judges decided that the term and/or should never be used in legal drafting. Ardent attacks on the term included charges that it was vague, if not meaningless, with some authorities declaring it to be a “Janus-faced verbal monstrosity,” an “inexcusable barbarism,” a “mongrel expression,” an “abominable invention,” a “crutch of sloppy thinkers,” and “senseless jargon.” Still today, critics maintain that the construct and/or is inherently ambiguous ...


America's Founding Editors: Writing The Declaration Of Independence, Douglas E. Abrams May 2019

America's Founding Editors: Writing The Declaration Of Independence, Douglas E. Abrams

Faculty Publications

On Congress’ behalf, one of its members, 33-year-old Virginia lawyer Thomas Jefferson, drafted the Declaration of Independence. For the next half century, Jefferson’s fierce pride of authorship, unrestrained by humility, kept him from crediting Congress for skilled editing that helped make him a national icon by sharpening his powerful, but less than polished, draft. The irony of lawyer Jefferson’s enduring bitterness and ingratitude can stimulate today’s lawyers to sharpen their own drafts by respecting cooperative editors as valuable allies, not as troublesome adversaries.


Simple Legal Writing Can Improve Business Outcomes In Latin America, Leon C. Skornicki Apr 2019

Simple Legal Writing Can Improve Business Outcomes In Latin America, Leon C. Skornicki

University of Miami Inter-American Law Review

No abstract provided.


On The Values Of Words, Michael J. Cedrone Jan 2019

On The Values Of Words, Michael J. Cedrone

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

Mary Norris' Between You and Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen and Kory Stamper's Word by Word: The Secret Life of Dictionaries use observations about language as a touchstone for a nuanced examination of deeper truths about language, culture, and law in a changing world. In so doing, they point to deeper truths about the use of language and its consequences. Law students, lawyers, and law professors will benefit from journeying with Norris and Stamper towards the goal of crafting prose that is clear, accurate, and inclusive. In particular, the legal community will benefit from the books' efforts to ...


The Architecture Of Drama: How Lawyers Can Use Screenwriting Techniques To Tell More Compelling Stories, Teresa M. Bruce Jan 2019

The Architecture Of Drama: How Lawyers Can Use Screenwriting Techniques To Tell More Compelling Stories, Teresa M. Bruce

Articles

Hollywood writers have a secret. They know how to tell a compelling story—so compelling that the top-grossing motion pictures rake in millions, and sometimes billions, of dollars. How do they do it? They use a simple formula involving three acts that propel the story forward, three "plot points" that focus on the protagonist, and two "pinch points" that focus on the adversary. The attached Article argues that lawyers should build their stories in the same way Hollywood writers do. It deconstructs the storytelling formula used in movies and translates it into an IRAC-like acronym, SCOR. Attorneys who use SCOR ...


One Judge's "Ten Tips For Effective Brief Writing" (Part Ii), Douglas E. Abrams Nov 2018

One Judge's "Ten Tips For Effective Brief Writing" (Part Ii), Douglas E. Abrams

Faculty Publications

Chief United States Bankruptcy Judge Terrence L. Michael (N.D.OKLA.) has written "Ten Tips for Effective Brief Writing" and posted them on the court's website. In the Journal's September-October issue, part 1 of this article began by discussing Tip #9 ("leave the venom at home"). That part proceeded to discuss Tips 1-4.

This final part discusses the remaining Tips. All 10 thoughtful Tips warrant careful consideration from advocates who prepare submissions for trial courts or appellate courts.


How We Built A Scholarly Working Group Devoted To Classical Legal Rhetoric (And How You Can Do The Same Thing With Other Legal Writing Subjects), Brian Larson, Kirsten K. Davis, Lori D. Johnson, Ted Becker, Susan E. Provenzano Jul 2018

How We Built A Scholarly Working Group Devoted To Classical Legal Rhetoric (And How You Can Do The Same Thing With Other Legal Writing Subjects), Brian Larson, Kirsten K. Davis, Lori D. Johnson, Ted Becker, Susan E. Provenzano

Brian Larson

As academic disciplines mature, professors with specialized interests within their field often gravitate toward each other to pursue their interests collectively. Eventually, members of a group might find themselves collaborating on presentations, articles, or similar endeavors, with the goal of advancing an academic specialty.

To our knowledge, however, few such groups appear to exist in the LRW community (notable exceptions: applied legal storytelling; LWI’s Discipline-Building Working Group’s bibliography program). Our presentation hopes to model how LRW professors can come together to explore a single aspect of the legal writing field. We’ll discuss how we brought together over ...


Judges And Their Editors, Douglas E. Abrams Jul 2018

Judges And Their Editors, Douglas E. Abrams

Faculty Publications

No abstract provided.


De-Grading Assessment: Rejecting Rubrics In Favor Of Authentic Analysis, Deborah L. Borman Jun 2018

De-Grading Assessment: Rejecting Rubrics In Favor Of Authentic Analysis, Deborah L. Borman

Seattle University Law Review

Assigning grades is the least joyful duty of the law professor. In the current climate of legal education, law professors struggle with issues such as increased class size, providing “practice-ready” graduates, streamlining assignments, and accountability in assessment. In an effort to ease the burden of grading written legal analyses, individual professors or law school writing programs or both may develop articulated rubrics to assess students’ written work. Rubrics are classification tools that allow us to articulate our judgment of a written work. Rubrics may be as extensive as twenty categories and subcategories or may be limited to only a few ...


Who Wants To Be A Muggle? The Diminished Legitimacy Of Law As Magic, Mark Edwin Burge Jun 2018

Who Wants To Be A Muggle? The Diminished Legitimacy Of Law As Magic, Mark Edwin Burge

Mark Edwin Burge

In the Harry Potter world, the magical population lives among the non-magical Muggle population, but we Muggles are largely unaware of them. This secrecy is by elaborate design and is necessitated by centuries-old hostility to wizards by the non-magical majority. The reasons behind this hostility, when combined with the similarities between Harry Potter-stylemagic and American law, make Rowling’s novels into a cautionary tale for the legal profession that it not treat law as a magic unknowable to non-lawyers. Comprehensibility — as a self-contained, normative value in the enactment interpretation, and practice of law — is given short-shrift by the legal profession ...


Better Briefs, Lydia Fearing May 2018

Better Briefs, Lydia Fearing

St. Mary's Journal on Legal Malpractice & Ethics

Abstract forthcoming


“And/Or” And The Proper Use Of Legal Language, Ira P. Robbins May 2018

“And/Or” And The Proper Use Of Legal Language, Ira P. Robbins

Maryland Law Review

The use of the term and/or is pervasive in legal language. Lawyers use it in all types of legal contexts—including statutes, contracts, and pleadings. Beginning in the 1930s, however, many judges decided that the term and/or should never be used in legal drafting. Ardent attacks on the term included charges that it was vague, if not meaningless, with some authorities declaring it to be a “Janus-faced verbal monstrosity,” an “inexcusable barbarism,” a “mongrel expression,” an “abominable invention,” a “crutch of sloppy thinkers,” and “senseless jargon.” Still today, critics maintain that the construct and/or is inherently ambiguous ...


"Fear Itself": What Legal Writers Can Learn From Fdr's Iconic Moment, Douglas E. Abrams May 2018

"Fear Itself": What Legal Writers Can Learn From Fdr's Iconic Moment, Douglas E. Abrams

Faculty Publications

This article concerns President Roosevelt's timeless faceoff with fear from the inaugural podium in the depths of the Great Depression. After surveying the dire national emergency that faced the new administration more than eight decades ago, the article draws lessons about sound rhetoric for today's legal writers.


The Potemkin Temptation Or, The Intoxicating Effect Of Rhetoric And Narrativity On American Craft Whiskey, Derek H. Kiernan-Johnson Jan 2018

The Potemkin Temptation Or, The Intoxicating Effect Of Rhetoric And Narrativity On American Craft Whiskey, Derek H. Kiernan-Johnson

Articles

No abstract provided.


Gender Justice: The Role Of Stories And Images, Linda L. Berger, Kathryn M. Stanchi Jan 2018

Gender Justice: The Role Of Stories And Images, Linda L. Berger, Kathryn M. Stanchi

Scholarly Works

In this book chapter, Professor Berger argues for thoughtful metaphor-making and storytelling in legal writing. Exploring legal rhetoric with an eye for gender justice, she argues metaphor and narrative shape perspective and ask the reader to join the writer in the imaginative work of seeing one thing as another. The same shift in perspective that leads to re-conception—a shift that takes advantage of metaphor and narrative’s ability to say what only they can say—is what writers aim to achieve when they use metaphor and narrative for feminist and social justice advocacy.


Scaffolding On Steroids: Meeting Your Students Where They Are Is Harder Than Ever ... And Easier Than You Think, Kari L. Aamot Johnson Dec 2017

Scaffolding On Steroids: Meeting Your Students Where They Are Is Harder Than Ever ... And Easier Than You Think, Kari L. Aamot Johnson

Kari L. Aamot Johnson

No abstract provided.


Irlafarc! Surveying The Language Of Legal Writing, Terrill Pollman, Judith M. Stinson Nov 2017

Irlafarc! Surveying The Language Of Legal Writing, Terrill Pollman, Judith M. Stinson

Maine Law Review

Language, like law, is a living thing. It grows and changes. It both reflects and shapes the communities that use it. The language of the community of legal writing professors demonstrates this process. Legal writing professors, who stand at the heart of an emerging discipline in the legal academy, are creating new terms, or neologisms, as they struggle to articulate principles of legal analysis, organizational paradigms conventional to legal writing, and other legal writing concepts. This new vocabulary can be both beneficial and detrimental. It can be beneficial because it expands the substance of an emerging discipline. It also can ...


The Structured Writing Group: A Different Writing Center?, Brian N. Larson, Christopher Soper Oct 2017

The Structured Writing Group: A Different Writing Center?, Brian N. Larson, Christopher Soper

Brian Larson

This article describes the objectives, development, and some preliminary results of a program the authors led at the University of Minnesota Law School in academic year 2014-15. They wanted the “Structured Writing Group” (SWG) project to achieve some outcomes traditionally associated with writing centers: first, improving the student writing process by facilitating collaboration with a writing expert; and second, exposing students to additional audiences for their writing. We added a third goal of improving the experience and performance of multilingual students in the legal writing program.


Cleaning Up Quotations, Jack Metzler Oct 2017

Cleaning Up Quotations, Jack Metzler

The Journal of Appellate Practice and Process

No abstract provided.


The Pesky Serial Comma, Douglas E. Abrams Jul 2017

The Pesky Serial Comma, Douglas E. Abrams

Faculty Publications

The "serial comma" - sometimes called the "Oxford comma" or the "Harvard comma"- comes immediately before a conjunction that separates the last of three or more elements in a series. For example, consider the trio "ready, willing, and able." Consider too "win, lose, or draw." The serial comma is the one immediately before the "and" or the "or." In statutes or private arrangements, a comma's presence (or, as in O'Connor, its absence) may hold high stakes for litigants.


Something Bad In Your Briefs, Richard H. Underwood Jun 2017

Something Bad In Your Briefs, Richard H. Underwood

Richard H. Underwood

In a profession heavily driven by writing, plagiarism is an ethical issue that plagues the legal community. The legal profession generally views plagiarism as unethical, but often sends mixed messages by condemning it in some settings, but not others. In this short Commentary, Professor Underwood discusses the ethical implications of plagiarism in legal writing.


References To Spring's Championship Sports In Judicial Opinions And Written Advocacy, Douglas E. Abrams May 2017

References To Spring's Championship Sports In Judicial Opinions And Written Advocacy, Douglas E. Abrams

Faculty Publications

t'he courts' own careful use of sports references invites advocates to carefully use sports references in the-i briefs and other written submissions. With the post-season playoffs and the World Series holding sports fans' attention, I wrote in the journal's September-October 2016 issue about the role of baseball references in judicial opinions and written advocacy. As attention turned to post-season playoffs and the Super Bowl, I wrote in the January-February 2017 issue about football references.

The trilogy of articles concludes here with sampling of judges' recent references to four sports that hit high notes every Spring Basketball, with the ...


New Wine In Old Wineskins: Metaphor And Legal Research, Amy E. Sloan, Colin Starger Jan 2017

New Wine In Old Wineskins: Metaphor And Legal Research, Amy E. Sloan, Colin Starger

Notre Dame Law Review Online

This Essay argues that conceptualizing emerging legal technologies using inherited research metaphors is like pouring new wine in old wineskins—it simply doesn’t work. This Essay proposes to replace outdated research metaphors with updated metaphors that can provide the fresh wineskin to conceptualize current research challenges.


When Less Is More: An Ideological Rhetorical Analysis Of Selected Aba Standards On Curricula And Faculty, Linda L. Berger Jan 2017

When Less Is More: An Ideological Rhetorical Analysis Of Selected Aba Standards On Curricula And Faculty, Linda L. Berger

Scholarly Works

This chapter undertakes an ideological rhetorical analysis of several key provisions of Chapters 3 and 4 of the American Bar Association’s Standards for Approval of Law Schools, specifically, the interrelated provisions that regulate the curriculum and specify the required conditions of employment for the faculty of a law school. The analysis of selected ABA Standards regulating curricula and faculty supports rhetorical analyst Sonja Foss’s conclusion that the “dominant ideology controls what participants see as natural or obvious by establishing the norm. . . . [and] provides a sense that things are the way they have to be as it asserts that ...


Analogical Reasoning, Susan A. Mcmahon, Sonya G. Bonneau Jan 2017

Analogical Reasoning, Susan A. Mcmahon, Sonya G. Bonneau

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

This chapter from our book Legal Writing in Context aims to demystify analogical reasoning for law students.


What's Your Story? Every Famous Mark Has One: Persuasion In Trademark Opposition Briefs, Candace Hays Jan 2017

What's Your Story? Every Famous Mark Has One: Persuasion In Trademark Opposition Briefs, Candace Hays

Marquette Intellectual Property Law Review

A key contention of legal writing scholarship is that the legal resolution is rooted in storytelling. The law consists of an endless telling and retelling of stories. Clients tell stories to their lawyers, who must figure out how to frame their client’s narrative into a legal context. Lawyers retell their clients’ stories to judges using pleadings, motions, and legal briefs. Judges and administrators retell these stories in the form of an opinion or verdict.

Storytelling in the legal context is an important element of persuasion. For the purpose of this comment, legal storytelling is defined as the use of ...


Update Your Bookmarks! Great Sites For Effective Research, Nancy E. Vettorello Jan 2017

Update Your Bookmarks! Great Sites For Effective Research, Nancy E. Vettorello

Articles

There are more than one billion websites available online. Many are useful tools for attorneys, so it makes sense to review and refresh your favorite bookmarks regularly. While none of the many free sites offer the sophisticated search abilities of fee-based research services, a few minutes spent exploring free sites can help researchers significantly narrow their searches once they turn to a fee-based system. Remember to always take advantage of the advancesearch option when available on a free site. Free sites are offering increasingly sophisticated search options, such as Boolean and proximity searches, which were previously exclusive to paid services.


References To Football In Judicial Opinions And Written Advocacy, Douglas E. Abrams Jan 2017

References To Football In Judicial Opinions And Written Advocacy, Douglas E. Abrams

Faculty Publications

Writing for the Court,Justice Elena Kagan explained that the dual bases of liability, recited in Section 11 of the Securities Act of 1933, are not "an invitation to Monday morning quarterback an issuer's opinions" if the opinions later prove incorrect. The Court thus spurned second-guessing from the relative comfort of hindsight. With her nod to football, justice Kagan employed a rhetorical technique that justices and lower federal and state judges have employed with increased frequency since the early 1970s. In cases with no claims or defenses concerning sports, written opinions help decide or explain issues of law or ...


Polishing Makes Perfect . . . Or Maybe Not, Melissa N. Henke Nov 2016

Polishing Makes Perfect . . . Or Maybe Not, Melissa N. Henke

Law Faculty Popular Media

This column offers some tips and strategies that can improve the proofreading process you use. To be clear, I use the term proofreading to refer to the final stage of editing. Of course proofreading can never take the place of earlier stages of rewriting or revising for organization, content, clarity, or conciseness. But this final stage of editing is crucial, because it is where you identify and fix any problems with spelling, grammar, and punctuation that leave your document looking less than polished.


Attracting Undue Scrutiny On Appeal: An Appellate Judge's Perspective, Marshall L. Davidson Iii Oct 2016

Attracting Undue Scrutiny On Appeal: An Appellate Judge's Perspective, Marshall L. Davidson Iii

The Journal of Appellate Practice and Process

No abstract provided.