In The Sound on the Page: Style and Voice in Writing, Bed Yagoda has collected comments about writing style from a variety of contemporary writers such as Camille Paglia, Tobias Wolff, Dave Barry, Cynthia Ozick, and James Wolcott. In a section called "Persuasive Writing," the featured writer is U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer.
Beginning on page 169, Yagoda has published a four-page quotation from Justice Breyer about his writing philosophy, the way he uses his law clerks, and his thoughts about Justice Scalia's style. Some excerpts:
I try to write clearly. I assume that my audience is not just lawyers and judges. Still, my first objective nonetheless is to write so that the judges, who must apply what I write, can understand me. Lawyers must be able to use the opinions and explain them to the clients. But the court has a broader audience. . . .
My writing is quite regimented and disciplined. My law clerks first write a fairly lengthy memorandum or draft. I take that and then go back and reread the briefs. Afterwards I sit at the word processor and write an outline . . . I then use the outline to write a first draft of the opinion . . . It typically takes me two drafts to translate my thoughts into an understandable written form. Once I've reached that stage, I can try for better phrasing. . . .
I respect other writing styles that are different, yet effective. Justice Scalia, for example, has a dramatic approach. He is colorful and he doesn't misplace his metaphors; he always has a good reason for using them as he does. . . .
In line with my efforts at instilling a conversational quality to my writing, I follow the example of Justice Arthur Goldberg (and Judge Posner) and do not use footnotes. I believe most footnotes are distracting.
Although Yagoda's book about writing style isn't written specifically for lawyers, lawyers will find many useful things within its pages. And the book is certainly recommended for lawyers who write for publication on the side; personally, I'm finding it fascinating.