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Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Effective Lawyering, for Students and Lawyers

The first-years are filing into my school's classrooms today, as they doubtless are or will be very soon for many of you.  Allow me to take that auspicious occasion to recommend a new book by my friends and former colleagues Austen Parrish and Dennis Yokoyama.  It's titled Effective Lawyering: A Checklist Approach to Legal Writing & Oral Argument.  It's a short and sweet guide to effective legal writing of all kinds, including trial and appellate briefs, legal memos (the foundation of most legal writing classes), legal correspondence, and academic writing, and also offers tips on effective oral argument.  It provides good, simple advice about how to write effectively; it also contains a series of checklists, which makes it a good desk reference for students -- and lawyers! -- who want to make sure their writing is effective before sending it out into the world.

I always tell my students in exam classes that legal writing is probably their most important class, and that doing well in it has a distinct payoff in classes they normally think of as having nothing to do with whatever they learned in that class.  Writing a good exam is basically like writing a good legal memo under condition of unusual haste and duress, and the more thoroughly you can master the skills involved in putting together a cogent and well-organized legal memo, the better you can do on a law school exam; if good legal writing is second nature to you, you'll be able to do it under pressure and when it counts.  That alone is reason enough to care about good legal writing -- quite apart from the fact that 1) legal writing is many lawyers' primary day-to-day activity, and 2) as any law clerk can tell you, a depressing number of lawyers don't do it well.  Austen and Dennis are great and well-loved legal writing teachers in addition to their broader academic pursuits, and the book promises to be a useful resource. 

Buy it while it's hot!   

Posted by Paul Horwitz on August 15, 2007 at 12:00 PM in Books | Permalink


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What about the unique "legal writing" on law-related blogs? The success of many lawyers will depend on their blogging skills. The same may even be true of some law professors.

Posted by: Greedy Trial Lawyer | Aug 16, 2007 6:46:39 AM

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