Writing thoughts from Judge Frank Easterbrooke

I read an interview of Judge Frank Easterbrooke.  He talked about Judge Ruggero Aldisert’s book Opinion Writing.  he said that  it was worth reading because it contains so many valuable nuggets on the fundamentals of good legal writing.  For example, I learned to hate footnotes after reading this book. If an argument is important, leave it in the text of the opinion or brief. Footnotes should only be used as a last resort when certain content would disrupt the flow of a sentence. More to the point, Judge Aldisert relayed one of his favorite jokes about footnotes: the man who stops and reads a footnote is the same man who would answer a knock on his bedroom door on his wedding night.

3 thoughts on “Writing thoughts from Judge Frank Easterbrooke

  1. Good advice, but everyone has his weaknesses, and one of mine is footnotes – for (1) asides and (2) matters that need to be addressed for form’s sake, but don’t matter for the argument.

    1. I fall victim to this weakness at times. But, I still think it is good advice.

      I will say that it is difficult for the reader to follow footnotes while reading on an ipad.

      I do not like on of Bryan Garner’s suggestions for appellate opinions — place all legal citations in footnotes. Several Supreme Court Justices have followed that advice, and they seem to disagree with me.

      1. Agreed re Garner. Legal authority is too important for footnotes.

        I am trying to figure how to link footnotes in a PDF because of the tablet issue, so they can be clicked to & back.

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