May 27, 2008
Say It With Conviction, Plus Ethics Updates From Maine
Posted by Alan Childress
It is standard advice in legal writing and advocacy to avoid wishy-washies like "I think" or "I believe." * That's also good advice when prepping one's speaking skills to be used in the job search and interview process (a related point was recently made by Susan Gainen of U. Minnesota, here, in tip #5). And it's an even more crucial tip in some professional contexts.
Sometimes to avoid conviction, one must assert matters with conviction. I was reminded of the above advice when reading a headline/blurb on the website of Maine's state bar:
AUGUSTA—Vassalboro man sentenced to 15 years in prison for attempted murder and burning down his sister’s home, says ‘I feel that I'm not guilty.’
I appreciate his honesty, if it was merely a sense he had. I saw this while lurking on Mainebar.org trying to find a job listing for interested readers: the NOBC site says that "Maine Seeks Assistant Bar Counsel," but I could not access the NOBC link without registering, and I could not find a job listing on the Maine bar website. I also could not find one at the Maine bar overseers site. Anyway, there may be a job in Augusta for someone interested in enforcing legal ethics.
Finally, the overseer site announces, "The Maine Task Force on Ethics 2000 has completed its Report and Recommendations on revisions to Maine Rules of Professional Conduct," and has this link to the proposals with comparisons to the existing rules.
* Advice so basic I could not find it while perusing the last 20 posts at Ray Ward's the (new) legal writer. But I did find the world's hardest vocabulary test and Ray's throw-down challenge to his writing readers to take a shot. I give Jeff Lipshaw five minutes before he tries it. Ray also reminds us, in this recent post, that "invective is rarely persuasive" in legal practice -- much like the point on civility and 'truth' that Jeff raised yesterday about academic discourse.
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