Appellate Advocacy Blog

Editor: Tessa L. Dysart
The University of Arizona
James E. Rogers College of Law

Friday, January 17, 2014

Your Theory of the Case . . . in Six Words?

Six_One of the biggest challenges in appellate writing (or any legal writing) is the task of communicating complex legal positions in simple and motivational terms. Does the idea of encapsulating your client's case theory in just six words sound impossible? Maybe not, according to lawyers who have been inspired by the idea of thesix-word memoir to adapt the challenge to legal writing. 

California attorney Laura Wystma one handled a case involving the rights of publicity regarding Marilyn Monroe. She took up the six-word challenge. Her capsule case theory? "Marilyn Monroe belongs to the world." She won that long battle.

Hamline law professor Mary Dunnewold introduced her legal writing students to the six-word case theory challenge by having them compose their own six-word 1L "memoirs." The funny and sometimes poignant results can be found in her essay about the experience. One fun example: "Studied battery all week. Mugged Friday." Other professors have carried the exercise into their own classrooms. Debra Cassens Weiss recently blogged about Marquette law professor Lisa Mazzie's experience using the exercise. One of Professor Mazzie's students offered: "The Framers should’ve been more specific." Many can empathize.

Next time you find yourself crafting a case theory, consider taking up the six-word challenge.

Hat tip: Lisa Mazzie, in a post to the Legal Writing Institute's listserv. In her post, she adds this gem: "Helen Palsgraf shouldn't have stood there."

Image: Wikimedia Commons

| Permalink


Thanks for the fun Friday post!

Posted by: David R. Cleveland | Jan 17, 2014 6:02:31 PM

Thanks, David!

Posted by: Tonya Kowalski | Jan 23, 2014 2:04:34 PM

Post a comment