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Full-Text Articles in Law

Numbers, Patrick Barry Nov 2020

Numbers, Patrick Barry

Articles

Numbers can be numbing. Depend too much on them to make your case, pitch your product, or tell your story, and you risk losing your audience. This essay offers a way to way to use numbers—both large and small—in a manner that is at once more compelling and more concrete.


The Support-Or-Advocacy Clauses, Richard Primus, Cameron O. Kistler Oct 2020

The Support-Or-Advocacy Clauses, Richard Primus, Cameron O. Kistler

Articles

Two little known clauses of a Reconstruction-era civil rights statute are potentially powerful weapons for litigators seeking to protect the integrity of federal elections. For the clauses to achieve their potential, however, the courts will need to settle correctly a contested question of statutory interpretation: do the clauses create substantive rights, or do they merely create remedies for substantive rights specified elsewhere? The correct answer is that the clauses create substantive rights.


Errors And Insights, Patrick Barry Oct 2020

Errors And Insights, Patrick Barry

Articles

In Seeing What Other's Don't, the psychologist Gary Klein suggests that only focusing on reducing errors limits our ability to improve. We also need to spend time increasing insights. This short essay applies Klein's approach to writing and editing.


Rhetorical Repetition, Patrick Barry Aug 2020

Rhetorical Repetition, Patrick Barry

Articles

When it comes to persuading judges, boardrooms, or even just co-workers, many lawyers shy away from repetition. They remain committed to the idea, often developed in college, that good writing is associated with having (and showing) a big vocabulary. They mistakenly think the best thesaurus wins. This essay explores that error and offers ways to correct it.


Corresponding Ideas In Corresponding Forms, Patrick Barry Aug 2019

Corresponding Ideas In Corresponding Forms, Patrick Barry

Articles

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that content always comes before structure. You don’t need to figure out all your ideas before you decide how to organize them. Much value can come from going in the opposite direction: first figure out how you are going to organize your ideas—their appropriate structure—and then determine the appropriate content. I often offer law students the following suggestion: “Once you find the right structure, perhaps it will be easier to find the right content.”


Uselessly Accurate, Patrick Barry May 2019

Uselessly Accurate, Patrick Barry

Articles

There is an accuracy that defeats itself by the overemphasis in details," Justice Benjamin Cardozo wrote in his 1925 collection Law and Literature and Other Essays and Addresses. The problem hasn't gone away, as any reader of legal briefs, contracts, and memos can attest. This essay offers a few ways to help.


Good Sentences, Patrick Barry Feb 2019

Good Sentences, Patrick Barry

Articles

To write good sentences, you need to read good sentences. Skilled writers and editors know this, so they seek out good sentences wherever they can find them—the short stories of Alice Munro, the political essays of William F. Buckley, even well-crafted cartoons, speeches, and advertisements. They read not just with voracity but also with an eye toward larceny, always on the lookout for moves that they can learn and repurpose.


The Most Revealing Word In The United States Report, Richard Primus Jan 2019

The Most Revealing Word In The United States Report, Richard Primus

Articles

The most prominent issue in NFIB v. Sebelius was whether Congress’s regulatory power under the Commerce Clause stops at a point marked by a distinction between “activity” and “inactivity.” According to the law’s challengers, prior decisions about the scope of the commerce power already reflected the importance of the distinction between action and inaction. In all of the previous cases in which exercises of the commerce power had been sustained, the challengers argued, that power had been used to regulate activity. Never had Congress tried to regulate mere inactivity. In NFIB, four Justices rejected that contention, writing that ...


Shot Selection, Patrick Barry Sep 2018

Shot Selection, Patrick Barry

Articles

One of the more common pieces of writing advice in our post-Hemingway world is to keep sentences short. Experts on legal writing are particularly fond of this Position — and for good reason. Few judges look at the sentences that appear in briefs, memos, statutes, and contracts and say, "You know what each of those could use? More words." Professor Noah Messing does a particularly good job making the case for short sentences. Brevity, he explains, "reduces the risk that your writing will confuse or irk readers," especially given that "empirical studies show that writing verbosely makes writers sound dumber, not ...


Paragraphing, Patrick Barry Aug 2018

Paragraphing, Patrick Barry

Articles

Consider treating the word paragraph as a verb. Think of it as something you can do well or poorly, with major consequences for your readers. Good paragraphers, for example, help readers. They make it easy to navigate and absorb information. They don’t flit around, hastily moving on to the next point before fully supporting their first. Nor do they get stuck for too long in one place. Instead, they give a lot of thought not just to the ideas but also to their arrangement—their shape, their balance, their pace.


Sites Of Storytelling: Supreme Court Confirmation Hearings, Patrick Barry Aug 2018

Sites Of Storytelling: Supreme Court Confirmation Hearings, Patrick Barry

Articles

Supreme Court confirmation hearings have an interesting biographical feature: before nominees even say a word, many words are said about them. This feature— which has been on prominent display in the confirmation hearings of Judge Brett Kavanaugh—is a product of how each senator on the confirmation committee is allowed to make an opening statement. Some of these statements are, as Robert Bork remembers from his own confirmation hearing, “lavish in their praise,” some are “lavish in their denunciations,” and some are “lavish in their equivocations.”1 The result is a disorienting kind of biography by committee, one which produces ...


What We Still Don't Know About What Persuades Judges – And Some Ways We Might Find Out, Edward R. Becker May 2018

What We Still Don't Know About What Persuades Judges – And Some Ways We Might Find Out, Edward R. Becker

Articles

Over 25 years ago, in his foreword to the first volume of Legal Writing, Chris Rideout nailed it: legal writing as actually practiced by lawyers and judges needs to improve, “[b]ut more fundamental inquiry into legal writing...is needed as well.” The intervening decades have seen many laudable efforts on the latter front, as our collective scholarly discipline, then in its infancy, has matured. But one particular question that Rideout identified remains largely unaddressed by our discipline, although recent developments suggest a welcome increase in attention to the topic. Specifically, Rideout explained that our field did not know as ...


Editing And Empathy, Patrick Barry May 2018

Editing And Empathy, Patrick Barry

Articles

Design begins with empathy.” I recently wrote that on the board during a class for students in the Child Welfare Appellate Clinic at the University of Michigan Law School. I thought it might help them write better briefs. I got the idea from Ilse Crawford, whose work as an interior designer can be seen all over the world—from airport lounges in Hong Kong, to fancy restaurants in London, to pear-shaped stools at IKEA. In Crawford’s view, “empathy is a cornerstone of design.”1 She thinks it is important to understand the spaces and products she creates from the ...


The Words Under The Words, Patrick Barry Aug 2017

The Words Under The Words, Patrick Barry

Articles

The words lawyers choose can change the decisions people make. Psychologists call the mechanics of this change “framing.” They’ve found, for example, that more people will decide to have a surgery if they are told that the “survival rate is 90%” than if they are told that the “mortality rate is 10%” — even though a survival rate of 90% is exactly the same as a mortality rate of 10%. They’ve also found that having to pay a “surcharge” for using a credit card rankles people (especially people in the credit card lobby) more than if they were simply ...


Carrot Or Stick? The Shift From Voluntary To Mandatory Disclosure Of Risk Factors, Karen K. Nelson, Adam C. Pritchard Jun 2016

Carrot Or Stick? The Shift From Voluntary To Mandatory Disclosure Of Risk Factors, Karen K. Nelson, Adam C. Pritchard

Articles

This study investigates risk factor disclosures, examining both the voluntary, incentive-based disclosure regime provided by the safe harbor provision of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act as well as the SEC's subsequent mandate of these disclosures. Firms subject to greater litigation risk disclose more risk factors, update the language more from year to year, and use more readable language than firms with lower litigation risk. These differences in the quality of disclosure are pronounced in the voluntary disclosure regime, but converge following the SEC mandate as low-risk firms improved the quality of their risk factor disclosures. Consistent with these ...


Jack Sammons As Therapist, Jospeh Vining Jan 2015

Jack Sammons As Therapist, Jospeh Vining

Articles

Jack Sammons is well known as a pioneer in making the practice of law a field of academic study and teaching. He is also an original and penetrating analyst of law as such. This essay comments on his recent work, especially his putting the way we understand law and the way we understand music side by side and drawing out the parallels between them. Many will find his work a revelation.


Revising Civil Rule 56: Judge Mark R. Kravitz And The Rules Enabling Act, Edward H. Cooper Oct 2014

Revising Civil Rule 56: Judge Mark R. Kravitz And The Rules Enabling Act, Edward H. Cooper

Articles

This contribution uses the history of amending Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56, “Summary Judgment,” to pay tribute to Mark R. Kravitz and to the Rules Enabling Act process itself. The three central examples involve discretion to deny summary judgment despite the lack of a genuine dispute as to any material fact, the choice whether to prescribe a detailed “point–counterpoint” procedure for presenting and opposing the motion, and the effect of failure to respond to a motion in one of the modes prescribed by the rule. These topics are intrinsically important. The ways in which the Civil Rules Advisory ...


Appraisal Theory: Old And New Questions, Phoebe C. Ellsworth Jan 2013

Appraisal Theory: Old And New Questions, Phoebe C. Ellsworth

Articles

I describe my current thinking on two old questions—the causal role of appraisals and the relationship of appraisal theories to basic emotions theories and constructivist theories, and three (sort of) new questions—the completeness of appraisals, the role of language, and the development of automaticity in emotional responses.


A Rejoinder To Professor Schauer's Commentary, Yale Kamisar Jan 2013

A Rejoinder To Professor Schauer's Commentary, Yale Kamisar

Articles

It is quite a treat to have Professor Frederick Schauer comment on my Miranda article.1 Professor Schauer is a renowned authority on freedom of speech and the author of many thoughtful, probing articles in other areas as well, especially jurisprudence. I am pleased that in large measure, Schauer, too, laments the erosion of Miranda in the last four-and-a-half decades2 and that he, too, was unhappy with the pre-Miranda due process/“totality of circumstances”/“voluntariness” test.3 I also like what Schauer had to say about “prophylactic rules,” a term that has sometimes been used to disparage the Miranda rules ...


What Is "Good Legal Writing" And Why Does It Matter?, Mark Osbeck Jan 2012

What Is "Good Legal Writing" And Why Does It Matter?, Mark Osbeck

Articles

Law schools face increasing pressure to improve instruction in practice-oriented skills. One of the most important of these skills is legal writing. The existing literature on legal writing contains various rules and suggestions as to how legal writers can improve their writing skills. Yet it lacks an adequate theoretical account of the fundamental nature of good legal writing. As a result, legal writers are left without a solid conceptual framework to ground the individual rules and suggestions. This Article attempts to fill the theoretical void in the literature by offering a systematic analysis of what it is for a legal ...


An Old-Fashioned View Of The Nature Of Law, James Boyd White Jan 2011

An Old-Fashioned View Of The Nature Of Law, James Boyd White

Articles

The law is a not an abstract system or scheme of rules, as we often speak of it, but an inherently unstable structure of thought and expression. It is built upon a distinct set of dynamic and dialogic tensions, which include: tensions between ordinary language and legal language; between legal language and the specialized discourses of other fields; between language itself and the mute world that lies beneath it; between opposing lawyers; between conflicting but justifiable ways of giving meaning to the rules and principles of law; between substantive and procedural lines of thought; between law and justice; between the ...


It Is Logic Rather Than Whom You Trust: A Rejoinder To Prof. Cohen, Douglas A. Kahn Jan 2010

It Is Logic Rather Than Whom You Trust: A Rejoinder To Prof. Cohen, Douglas A. Kahn

Articles

This article is the continuation of an exchange that has taken place between Prof. Stephen B. Cohen and me concerning the validity of criticisms leveled by Chief Justice John Roberts on an opinion by then-Judge Sonia Sotomayor writing for the Second Circuit in the case of William L. Rudkin Testamentary Trust v. Commissioner. While affirming the Second Circuit’s decision, Chief Justice Roberts, writing for a unanimous Supreme Court, criticized and rejected Justice Sotomayor’s construction of the relevant statutory provision. In an article in the August 3, 2009, issue of Tax Notes, Cohen defended Justice Sotomayor’s construction of ...


Rudkin Testamentary Trust -- A Response To Prof. Cohen, Douglas A. Kahn Sep 2009

Rudkin Testamentary Trust -- A Response To Prof. Cohen, Douglas A. Kahn

Articles

In the August 3 issue of Tax Notes, Prof. Stephen Cohen wrote an article about Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s opinions in three tax cases. Of those three cases, only the opinion she wrote in William L. Rudkin Testamentary Trust v. Commissioner, 467 F.3d 149 (2d Cir. 2006), Doc 2006- 21522, 2006 TNT 203-4, is worthy of comment. Although the Second Circuit’s decision in that case was affirmed by the Supreme Court under the name Knight v. Commissioner, the construction of the critical statutory language that Justice Sotomayor adopted was rejected and criticized by Chief Justice Roberts, writing for ...


Condemnation Without Justification, Douglas A. Kahn Jan 2008

Condemnation Without Justification, Douglas A. Kahn

Articles

On August 6-8, 2007, Prof. Neil Buchanan posted in Michael Dorf’s blog (http://michaeldorf.org/; for the blog entry regarding the death tax, see http:// michaeldorf.org/2007/08/dishonest-tax-rhetoric-part-3- of-3.html) a three-part series on what he deemed to be examples of political use of terminology to describe tax issues in a manner that is likely to mislead the public. Prof. Buchanan described this practice as ‘‘dishonest tax rhetoric.’’ He awarded first, second, and third prizes for the most egregious examples of dishonest rhetoric. I, however, found no objection to the usages he considered to be the two ...


Craft And Power, Carl E. Schneider Jan 2008

Craft And Power, Carl E. Schneider

Articles

Oliver Wendell Holmes-a great judge-said that "the command of the public force is intrusted to the judges in certain cases, and the whole power of the state will be put forth, if necessary, to carry out their judgments and decrees." Appellate courts command that force in ways that principle and practicalities leave little fettered. Judges must fetter themselves, not least by honoring the judicial duty of craftsmanship. That duty obliges courts to respect procedural rules, for they keep courts within their bounds and promote fair and sound decisions. That duty obliges courts to analyze legal authority scrupulously, since judicial legitimacy ...


Establishing Relations Between Law And Other Forms Of Thought And Language, James Boyd White Jan 2008

Establishing Relations Between Law And Other Forms Of Thought And Language, James Boyd White

Articles

The law does not, and could not, exist in an intellectual or linguistic vacuum. No one believes that the law is or should be impervious to other languages, other bodies of knowledge. In this sense the argument about the 'autonomy' of law is an empty one: law cannot be, should not be, perfectly autonomous, unconnected with any other system of thought and expression; yet it plainly has it own identity as a discourse, it own intellectual and linguistic habits, which it is our task as lawyers to understand and develop. It follows that an essential topic of legal thought is ...


What's Real For Law?, Jospeh Vining Jan 2006

What's Real For Law?, Jospeh Vining

Articles

Law is not academic. The univeristy if not its home. Law is in the wider world and is pervasive there, in language, thought, and action.


Boilerplate And Economic Power In Auto Manufacturing Contracts, Omri Ben-Shahar, James J. White Jan 2006

Boilerplate And Economic Power In Auto Manufacturing Contracts, Omri Ben-Shahar, James J. White

Articles

This Article is structured as follows. Part I compares the terms and conditions in the purchase orders of the Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) and highlights important differences in the substance of these boilerplate provisions. It argues that these differences cannot be easily reconciled with the prediction that sophisticated parties draft the most efficient boilerplate terms. Part II examines how these forms are drafted, how their terms are negotiated, and how the OEMs guard their terms from erosion. It provides some insight on how tailoring occurs and how the internal organization of a party to a deal affects the terms that ...


Foreword [To Boilerplate: Foundations Of Market Contracts Symposium], Omri Ben-Shahar Jan 2006

Foreword [To Boilerplate: Foundations Of Market Contracts Symposium], Omri Ben-Shahar

Articles

It is tempting to open this symposium with yet another "boilerplate" salute to the challenge that standard-form contracts pose for contract law doctrine. You may have seen many tributes to this fundamental problem. If I were to offer my own variation on this familiar introduction, I would have perhaps tried to come up with an original spin to induce you to read forward another paragraph or two. I would probably have talked about a major divide within contract law between the "law of negotiations" and "product regulation." The former is the body of doctrines that determine the legal consequences of ...


Restyling The Civil Rules: Clarity Without Change, Edward H. Cooper Jan 2004

Restyling The Civil Rules: Clarity Without Change, Edward H. Cooper

Articles

Devoted fans and casual users of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure will feel mixed emotions on contemplating the Style Project that aims to rewrite every rule from Rule 1 to the end. Well they might. The Style Project's purpose is simply stated. The Civil Rules, created in an inspired fit of creativity, have been amended repeatedly over the years. Experience has shown that even inspired initial drafting could not avoid all misadventures and that amendments drafted by successive generations wielding different drafting tools do not always fit well. The present rules can be reworked to say more clearly ...