Monday, March 16, 2020
Developing excellent legal research and writing skills is essential to becoming a competent attorney. Below are some of the most outstanding resources for law students (and lawyers); these books provide excellent real-world tips on how to become a persuasive legal writer and excellent legal researcher.
Bryan Garner, The Winning Brief: 100 Tips for Persuasive Briefing in Trial and Appellate Courts, Third Edition (Oxford University Press, 2014)
In The Winning Brief, Bryan Garner offers law students (and lawyers) with practical and real-world tips to maximize the quality and persuasive value of their wring. Garner includes tips on how to organize a brief, capture the reader’s attention, and edit effectively.
Bryan Garner, Legal Writing in Plain English, Second Edition (University of Chicago Press, 2013)
In Legal Writing in Plain English, Bryan Garner uses real-world examples to show students how to write concise, clear, and persuasive prose. Garner also includes valuable exercises and his advice is applicable to a wide variety of legal documents.
Ross Guberman, Point Made: How To Write Like The Nation's Top Advocates, Second Edition (Oxford University Press, 2014)
Ross Guberman’s book is replete with examples of outstanding writing by the country’s top advocates. Using these examples, Guberman provides students with the techniques necessary to draft excellent and persuasive legal documents.
Noah A. Messing, The Art of Advocacy: Briefs, Motions, and Writing Strategies of America's Best Lawyers (Aspen, 2013)
Professor Messing’s book includes numerous examples of excellent writing that are taken from outstanding motions and briefs. The Art of Advocacy focuses on organization, style, and storytelling, and contains annotations that explain to the reader why particular documents are so effective and persuasive.
Mark Osbeck, Impeccable Research, A Concise Guide to Mastering Legal Research Skills (West, 2010)
Professor Osbeck’s book guides students and new attorneys through each step of the research process. Impeccable Research also includes tips on how to avoid common mistakes when researching and discusses how to address specific difficulties that may be encountered in the research process.
Antonin Scalia and Bryan Garner, Making Your Case: The Art of Persuading Judges (Thompson West, 2008)
In Making Your Case, former Justice Antonin Scalia and Bryan Garner provide invaluable advice to law students and lawyers regarding how to advocate persuasively before a court. The authors discuss, among other things, principles of legal reasoning, briefing, and how to draft an effective argument.
Steven Stark, Writing to Win: The Legal Writer (Three Rivers Press, 2012)
Professor Stark focuses on how to draft persuasive factual narratives and legal arguments, and includes excellent advice on how to draft a variety of real-world documents, such as complaints, answers, trial briefs, and appellate briefs. Additionally, Professor Stark’s book is replete with real-world examples that demonstrate the essence of outstanding writing.
William Strunck, Jr., and E.B. White, The Elements of Style, Fourth Edition (Pearson, 1999)
The Elements of Style shows students and lawyers how to draft clear, concise, and grammatically correct sentences, and is an invaluable resource.
Eric Voight, Legal Research Demystified: A Step-by-Step Approach (Carolina Academic Press, 2019)
Professor Voight provides invaluable instruction that will help students to become outstanding legal researchers. Additionally, Professor Voight includes interactive research exercises that are available on Core Knowledge for Lawyers. Each exercise guides students through the steps identified in the textbook and teaches them to research on Westlaw and Lexis Advance through screen captures and tips.
Richard Wydick and Amy Sloan, Plain English for Lawyers, Sixth Edition (Carolina Academic Press, 2019)
In Plain English for Lawyers, Professors Wydick and Sloan offer valuable tips to help students draft clear, straightforward, and persuasive legal arguments. This includes, but is not limited to, using simple rather than complex words, drafting short sentences, writing in the active voice, and ensuring that a legal document is easy to read.
Of course, this list is not meant to be exhaustive. There are many excellent books that will assist students and lawyers in developing their research and writing skills. The books listed above, however, are among the best and will certainly accomplish this objective.