June 19, 2011
12 ways to write a really bad brief
From trial lawyer extraordinaire Jim McElhaney by way of the ABA Journal blog:
It was one of those great brainstorming sessions that you can never plan but that sometimes just happen. I was talking with Chris Lutz, a partner in the litigation department at Steptoe and Johnson in Washington, D.C., about legal writing, and the discussion settled on bad briefs.
How many ways are there to write a bad brief? Not theoretical possibilities or occasional oddities, but the kind of ordinary sins that even good lawyers commit every day. For every example that one of us gave, the other came up with a number of ways in which lawyers have taken that basic mistake and developed it into an art form of ineffectiveness.
The whole conversation went so fast that I can’t tell you who was responsible for which ideas. So if there is something you really like in our list of ways to write a bad brief, credit Chris; and if there is something you find annoying, blame me.
1. Make it a “long,” not a brief.
2. Throw issues against the wall.
3. Flunk the giggle test.
4, Commit purposeful errors.
5, Make unreasonable arguments.
6. Be bombastic.
7. Let Mongo (the inner beast that dwells in every lawyer) loose.
8. Lay on the legalese.
9. Load up the citations.
10. Quote like crazy.
11. Don't analyze.
12. Tell no story.
Click here to read Professor McElhaney's elaboration on each of these points.
June 19, 2011 | Permalink