Saturday, March 2, 2013
The newspaper "Investor's Business Daily" carries a daily series on "Leaders and Success." Monday's installment (March 4, 2013) falls under the category of "How You Think is Everything" with an article on how to lift your career with the correct choice of words. One expert quoted in the article is Bryan Garner, who is the editor of Black's Law Dictionary, the author of numerous books and countless articles, and a board member of Scribes -- The Society of American Legal Writers.
The article has these two points from Bryan. Although the article is geared toward business writing, it applies as well to legal writing:
1. "Sink the Clunkers." Some people trying to make a good impression use technical jargon, but the audience is often left wondering what was said. Garner notes that jargon isn't always negative, and that it began as a way to streamline communication within a company or industry. But he says that "what is bad is when you start using this jargon outside your specialized realm. Then it becomes inconsiderate insider talk."
2. "Boil it Down." Garner notes that two great communicators -- Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King, Jr. -- could "hone a message to powerfully simple missive." To achieve similar clarity, Garner suggests condsidering "How would I explain this to a high school student?" He also added: "When you simplify your ideas -- still keeping the substance pure -- there's no better way to seem like a smart writer."
The Monday issue of Investor's Business Daily has some other tips in that article by Sonja Carberry, "Lift Career With a Smile."
Mark E. Wojcik (Board Member of Scribes - The Society of American Legal Writers)
Friday, March 1, 2013
Chocolate Ghost House has produced a "Law School" parody of the song "Payphone" by Maroon 5. You don't need to know that song to enjoy this video (4 minutes, 18 seconds of non-stop smiles for you!). Great lyrics: "If the eighth Amendment does exist, how are they allowing all of this?" Congratulations to Tyler Murray and all of the students who made this video. We understand from Professor Grace Wigal that you are students at West Virginia University College of Law in Morgantown. (You're admissions office will probably start using this to recruit students!) Well done!
Hat tip to Law School Memes.
See two other legal writing videos in the post below.
In preparation for oral arguments, I plan to show my classes two videos that many legal writing professors have used. One is a 3-minute piece by comedian Taylor Mali, who pokes fun at verbal tics like "Y'know." The other is a 2-minute interview with Chief Justice Roberts, who talks about responding to judges' questions.
Here is the video from Taylor Mali:
And here is the video from U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, which was taken in 2009 in an interview by C-SPAN: