Monday, March 12, 2012
There were so many fascinating presentations at the March 9-10 Capital Area Legal Writing Conference that I was sorry I couldn't attend them all. One particularly enlightening panel was made up of D.C. magistrate judge Joan Goldfrank, large-firm intellectual property lawyer Kerry Konrad, and federal prosecutor Mark Blumberg. All emphasized the importance of legal writing, and all described their exacting expectations for lawyers. Judge Goldfrank advised us not to coddle law students, who may not have received much criticism yet; they will have to learn how to take criticism in the real world. Konrad said he expects junior lawyers to deliver “a work product free from errors of any type.” They must be able to “do it right and do it fast.” He also said much of the firm’s work is done by email rather than by traditional memoranda, although an email may sometimes be similar to a memorandum. Blumberg emphasized the importance of lawyers’ ability to deliver work quickly; a lawyer might have 1½ days to write a formal memorandum. Junior lawyers, he stressed, must be “nimble.”
Following that panel, the keynote speaker was Patricia Millet, pictured at right, who has argued 30 cases before the Supreme Court. As mentioned in Professor Benham's post below, she emphasized the importance of pithy, engaging writing to capture a court’s attention. “Teach students to care about every single word they put in a brief,” she said.