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Full-Text Articles in Law

Changemakers: The Long Road To The Law : Kiron Ireland, Michelle Choate Jan 2023

Changemakers: The Long Road To The Law : Kiron Ireland, Michelle Choate

Life of the Law School (1993- )

No abstract provided.


Law Library Blog (April 2022): Legal Beagle's Blog Archive, Roger Williams University School Of Law Apr 2022

Law Library Blog (April 2022): Legal Beagle's Blog Archive, Roger Williams University School Of Law

Law Library Newsletters/Blog

No abstract provided.


Law Library Blog (March 2021): Legal Beagle's Blog Archive, Roger Williams University School Of Law Mar 2021

Law Library Blog (March 2021): Legal Beagle's Blog Archive, Roger Williams University School Of Law

Law Library Newsletters/Blog

No abstract provided.


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.


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.


On Lawyers And Copy Editors, Jonathan I. Tietz May 2020

On Lawyers And Copy Editors, Jonathan I. Tietz

Michigan Law Review

Review of Benjamin Dreyer's Dreyer's English: An Utterly Correct Guide to Clarity and Style.


The Rhetoric Of Constitutional Law, Erwin Chemerinsky Aug 2019

The Rhetoric Of Constitutional Law, Erwin Chemerinsky

Erwin Chemerinsky

I spend much of my time dealing with Supreme Court opinions. Usually, I download and read them the day that they are announced by the Court. I edit them for my casebook and teach them to my students. I write about them, lecture about them, and litigate about them. My focus, like I am sure most everyone's, is functional: I try to discern the holding, appraise the reasoning, ascertain the implications, and evaluate the decision's desirability. Increasingly, though, I have begun to think that this functional approach is overlooking a crucial aspect of Supreme Court decisions: their rhetoric. I use …


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.


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 define …


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 such …


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 …


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.


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 perspective of the …


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 much as …


The Language Of Neutrality In Supreme Court Confirmation Hearings, Carolyn Shapiro Jan 2018

The Language Of Neutrality In Supreme Court Confirmation Hearings, Carolyn Shapiro

Dickinson Law Review (2017-Present)

At Justice Neil Gorsuch’s confirmation hearing, then-Judge Gorsuch repeatedly insisted that judging involves no more than examining the legal materials—like statutes and precedents— and applying them to the facts of the case. There is, he emphasized, no room for a Justice’s “personal views,” and he refused even to state his agreement (or disagreement) with such iconic cases as Loving v. Virginia and Griswold v. Connecticut. Instead, then Judge Gorsuch reiterated only that they were precedents of the Court and thus entitled to respect. Frustrating as his answers may have been to some senators, however, they differed from answers given …


The Public Speaks, Again: An International Study Of Legal Communication, Christopher R. Trudeau, Christine Cawthorne Dec 2017

The Public Speaks, Again: An International Study Of Legal Communication, Christopher R. Trudeau, Christine Cawthorne

University of Arkansas at Little Rock Law Review

No abstract provided.


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 told …


Comma But Differentiated Responsibilities: Punctuation And 30 Other Ways Negotiators Have Resolved Issues In The International Climate Change Regime, Susan Biniaz Oct 2016

Comma But Differentiated Responsibilities: Punctuation And 30 Other Ways Negotiators Have Resolved Issues In The International Climate Change Regime, Susan Biniaz

Michigan Journal of Environmental & Administrative Law

International climate change negotiations have a long history of being contentious, and much has been written about the grand trade-offs that have allowed countries to reach agreement. Issues have often involved, for example, the level of ambition, differentiated treatment of Parties, and various forms of financial assistance to developing countries.

Lesser known are the smaller, largely language-based tools negotiators have used to resolve differences, sometimes finding a solution as subtle as a shift in the placement of a comma. These tools have operated in different ways. Some, such as deliberate imprecision or postponement, have “resolved” an issue by sidestepping it …


All Copying Is Not Created Equal: Borrowed Language In Supreme Court Opinions, Adam Feldman Apr 2016

All Copying Is Not Created Equal: Borrowed Language In Supreme Court Opinions, Adam Feldman

The Journal of Appellate Practice and Process

No abstract provided.


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.


Hiding In Plain Sight: "Conspicuous Type" Standards In Mandated Communication Statutes, Mary Beth Beazley Jan 2014

Hiding In Plain Sight: "Conspicuous Type" Standards In Mandated Communication Statutes, Mary Beth Beazley

Scholarly Works

Professor Beazley defines the concept of mandated communication statutes in this examination of typeface, language, and the mind's ability to comprehend certain syntax. This article has a simple premise: when a government mandates written communication, it should present the mandated communication in a way that speeds comprehension. When communication is so important that the government is mandating the words and the presentation method, the writer and not the reader should not bear the burden of making sure that the information is comprehensible. In other words, the reader should not have to work to decipher the information; the writer should work …


Professional Legal Writing Declaring Your Independence, Patrick R. Hugg Apr 2013

Professional Legal Writing Declaring Your Independence, Patrick R. Hugg

Journal of the National Association of Administrative Law Judiciary

This article proposes two controversial assertions about the writing of many lawyers and judges today and offers a central theme for improving that writing. These bold propositions are offered in an effort to awaken and perhaps inspire the legions of overworked, harried legal scriveners inhabiting our legal community to adopt a new methodology of writing. Too many legal writers today are forced by the various (nefarious) circumstances of their work to crank out reams of hastily conceived and poorly edited text. The time has arrived for us to admit to this unacceptable state of affairs and to declare independence from …


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 …


Lost In Translation: Linguistic Minorities In The European Union, Nirvana Bhatia Jan 2011

Lost In Translation: Linguistic Minorities In The European Union, Nirvana Bhatia

Human Rights & Human Welfare

“A nation without a language is a nation without a soul,” declares a Gaelic proverb. Indubitably, language is a product of national identity; it preserves heritage, reflects societal beliefs and values, and expresses a cultural spirit. The current international human rights regime, however, does not recognize an individual’s right to language choice; instead, it promises freedom from linguistic discrimination. The implications are not quite the same and, as a result, states have successfully repressed minority populations by controlling their language options. The European Union in particular—with its panoply of languages—demonstrates an inconsistent approach toward linguistic minorities; it attempts to promote …


The Imagination Of James Boyd White, Lee C. Bollinger May 2007

The Imagination Of James Boyd White, Lee C. Bollinger

Michigan Law Review

For several decades, James Boyd White has been a unique voice in the law. It is a voice of extraordinary intellectual range, of erudition and of deep commitment to a life of self-understanding and of humane values. His point of access is language - all language, in every context. Armed y a lifetime of thought about words, he justifiably has regarded no field or discipline or communicative activity as foreign and outside his ken. Whoever reads him must feel his sense of intellectual empowerment that our world, sectioned as it is by expertise, would deny us.


Educative Friendship - A Personal Note, Jeanne Gaakeer May 2007

Educative Friendship - A Personal Note, Jeanne Gaakeer

Michigan Law Review

In 1992, when I started my doctorate research in the interdisciplinary field of Law and Literature, The Legal Imagination was one of the first books I read. To European eyes, it was a most unusual book since in continental legal theory in those days, the Anglo-analytical tradition was predominant, and French deconstruction had for some time been the up-and coming stream. Fascinated as I became with Professor White's works, I decided to try to get in contact with him in order to ask him about the genesis of his ideas. So much for the dangers of the intentional fallacy Whimsatt …


Speech, Silence, And Ethical Lives In The Law, Robin West May 2007

Speech, Silence, And Ethical Lives In The Law, Robin West

Michigan Law Review

As his many appreciative readers know, James Boyd White brought his learning to bear on the relation between ethical living and ethical speaking, and particularly as it pertains to how we live and speak in law. His prodigious writing, teaching, and speaking career, as far as I can tell, was motivated by a singular, passionate belief: that the human capacity for language can and should serve as a bridge from mind to mind and spirit to spirit, so that we might cohabit the earth not only peaceably, but with the pleasures and grace of each other's company. Language, White taught, …