Friday, August 31, 2012

Justice Kagan urges clarity in legal writing

The September ABA Journal has an informative interview with Justice Elena Kagan on legal writing. The Kaganarticle continues Bryan Garner’s series of interviews with Supreme Court Justices that appeared in the 2008-2009 issue of the Scribes Journal of Legal Writing. In this latest article, Garner asked Justice Kagan what one thing she would reform about legal writing. She responded, “Well, I think everybody says the same thing: The most important thing in a brief is clarity.” She expanded on that in the full transcript of the interview:

If there’s one thing about brief-writing you could reform, it’s confusing briefs—briefs where you’re working too hard to try to figure out what the point is and to figure out how the argument goes. There are two really important things about brief-writing. One is you have to know your best arguments. Second, you have to say those arguments clearly. Sometimes it’s frustrating, because you’ll be reading a brief and there will be good arguments there, but it’s just so hard to get them out of this brief. You have to do so much work by yourself or with clerks to do that. It’s a disservice to the real arguments that are there.


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