“The writer does the most who gives his reader the most knowledge, and takes from him the least time.” Sydney Smith.
A Nike commercial about Michael Jordan says it all:
I’ve taken 26 game winning shots and missed,
I’ve played in 392 games and lost, and
I’ve shot 2,572 shots and missed;
But because I failed is why I succeed.
No great victories unless you overcome adversity. .
Do not ever blame someone else for your failure.
Very few people write like they talk. For examples, I can’t speak Latin, so I would guess that most judges would rather you not speak Latin.
I like to personalize each party by name. It’s hard to keep straight plaintiff v defendant, or appellant v appellee. I prefer you refer to the parties by their name. Please, please try to avoid using initials (IBM is ok).
A court’s should not decide a case based on feeling or a belief. So, please don’t argue “I feel that the evidence was insufficient”; or “I believe that the trial court erred. . . .” Instead, you should argue “The evidence was insufficient,” or “The trial court erred because . . . .”
A lawyer always writes with a purpose. Start with the purpose:
∙ What do I want?
∙ Why should I get it?
“Briefs are written for one audience and one audience only—judges and their law clerks. They have the most limited readership of any professional writing.”
Judge Ruggero Alidsert
“A blank sheet of paper is God’s way of telling us that it is not so easy to be God.”
Seek criticism. Ask others to read your work.
Too few lawyers read the work of other lawyers. Newspaper columnists put their writing out for others to read. Lawyers do not. The usual audience is the judge and the lawyer for the other party.
Lawyer’s writing would improve if they would expand their audience. Ask others to read your work, and listen to their feedback. Consider what other lawyers would think of you if they read this brief or letter.