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duck duck goose

I am constantly amazed at how low the bar is for offering advice to lawyers. When it comes to advise on legal writing, I've had the same dull, vanilla advice foisted upon me since I was a 1-L.

Does the legal profession really need an article stating that the purpose of a brief is to convince the Court that you are right? Hopefully not. Any lawyer who does not instictively know this should probably focus on transactional work...or maybe another profession all together.

I find it interesting that an article titled "The Anatomy of an Effective Reply Brief" does not actually get around to discussing the actual anatomy of an effective reply brief. Instead, we are treated to such bon mots as "make it readable", "keep it as short as possible", and "write a compelling introduction". I have yet to meet a lawyer who is purposefully long-winded, rambling, and boring.

This kind of obvious advice reminds me of my Dad's instruction on how to play golf. All you have to do is hit the ball in the hole!

The shortcomings of this article are highlighted by the fact that it comes so close on the heels of the post from the Curmudgeon. The Curmudgeon set out specific and practical steps that anybody can follow.

Steffen N. Johnson, on the other hand, just advises us to hit the ball in the hole.


Mr. Goose, I respectfully suggest that you and I haven't been around the same lawyers. I have actually met legalese-loving attorneys who are purposefully long-winded, rambling, boring, overly repetitive, and grammatically challenged. These folks are the reason that the court have page number limits for briefs.

If the legal writing teachings received by L1s always took root, there would be no need for the constant admonitions to write in plain English, keep it short, and write so that you are understood, etc. You appear to be one of the lucky ones.

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