May 11, 2012
Fifty helpful tips for legal writing
New York lawyer Robert E. Crotty recently published Fifty Writing Tips for Commercial Lawyers in the Practical Lawyer. I particularly like his suggestions to write with basic reference books at hand, do outside reading from serious, not “slush,” books, and allow enough time to rewrite. Altogether, Crotty’s list is a good compendium of basic advice about legal writing.
May 7, 2012
Real Lawyers Play the Line-Spacing Game
In a move truly reminiscent of first-year legal writing classes, it looks like a grown-up lawyer decided to manipulate line spacing to fall under a court-ordered page limit. After being called out, it looks like he is relying on a literal interpretation of the term "double spaced." Check out the Wall Street Journal Law Blog's coverage here:
Lawyers, as good advocates, try to cram as many arguments as possible in their legal briefs, particularly when judges impose limits on how much they can say.
However, one side in a trademark dispute in Manhattan federal court involving The Gap Inc. says their adversary went a little too far.
Patterson Belknap lawyers said [the other side] used a computer program to determine that the line spacing on Fross Zelnick’s reply brief was “1.75″ instead of double spaced.
Fross Zelnick replied, “As is our usual practice, the brief employs 12 point Times New Roman font formatted in Microsoft Word with the line spacing set at exactly 24 points, i.e., double the line height.”
The judge granted Patterson Belknap’s request to file a 30-page, instead of 25-page, brief on Thursday.
LWI One-Day Workshop Site Hosts Announced
Each December, the Legal Writing Institute (LWI) hosts a one-day workshop at various locations around the country. These are usually on the first Friday in December, but individual workshops may be held at other times (including the week before or the week after that first Friday).
The workshops are held around the country to allow greater participation from legal writing professors (including adjunct professors, law librarians, and persons interested in entering the field of legal writing). The sessions are highly interactive, informative, and worthwhile. It seems that almost everyone who has attended one of these workshops in the past has come away with something new and useful.
The overall focus of the workshops changes slightly each year and each individual panel may be vastly different from one location to the next. These workshops give presentation opportunities to many people and allow a great number of persons to attend who might otherwise not have an opportunity to do so. Some locations may have a special focus or event connected with the workshop.
This year, 27 law schools volunteered to host LWI Workshops in December 2012. The LWI selected 16 of those 27 volunteers to be hosts. Here are the sites selected (more or less in alphabetical order)
- Drake University Law School, Des Moines, Iowa
- The George Washington University Law School, Washington, D.C.
- Michigan State University College of Law, East Lansing, Michigan
- New York Law School, New York, New York
- Northwestern University School of Law, Chicago, Illinois
- Nova Southeastern University, Shepard Broad Law Center, Fort Lauderdale, Florida
- Southern University Law Center, Baton Rouge, Louisiana
- Texas Wesleyan University School of Law, Fort Worth, Texas
- University of Akron School of Law, Akron, Ohio.
- The University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law, Tucson, Arizona
- University of California at Berkeley School of Law (Boalt Hall), Berkeley, California
- University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, North Carolina
- University of San Diego School of Law, San Diego, California
- Villanova Law School, Villanova, Pennsylvania
- Washburn University School of Law, Topeka, Kansas
- Willamette University College of Law, Salem, Oregon
The dates at each individual location are to be confirmed, but most will be held on Friday, December 7, 2012. The fee to attend will remain at $100. Presenters and faculty at host schools get to register for only $25. As in past years, tuition scholarships will be available for those who cannot afford the registration fee. The event helps support the Legal Writing Institute and its important work.
Congratulations to the host schools chosen this year.
Mark E. Wojcik, Board Member, Legal Writing Institute