I don’t usually get surprised at legal-writing CLEs. But I got surprised this morning.

For context, I was lucky enough to moderate a panel  at the VADA’s annual meeting this morning. Justice McCulloughJudge Carson, and Erin Ashwell sat on the panel, which addressed practical legal-writing tips. If you know these folks, then you know that they have varied and fascinating life experiences. We ignored them. Instead of talking about, say, growing up in Marseille (Justice McCullough) or spending summers in the Catskills as a California kid (Judge Carson) or writing novels (Erin), we focused on my idiosyncratic tics and obsessions. You’re welcome, VADA!


Continue Reading Legal Writing: Be Brief or Be Thorough?

The brief in opposition is one of the great underappreciated joys of Virginia appellate practice. It comes at the writ stage, when we’re just trying to convince the Supreme Court that it should/should not grant a petition for appeal. We’re not necessarily arguing the merits. Sometimes, the petitioner will not yet have hired specialist appellate counsel. Even when they do, some nominal appellate lawyers fail to appreciate this distinction.

Continue Reading Dead Man Walking

So we decided to send Jack to sleepover camp this year. You remember Jack, right?

Well, he’ a little older now. This is the first year that he’s eligible for camp, and he’s really been looking forward to it. We’ve been sending him letters every day, and we include the sports section from the local

 Lately, I’ve been binge listening to Scriptnotes, a podcast by John August and Craig Mazin about screenwriting and things that are interesting to screenwriters(TM). I’m not a screenwriter myself and, as it turns out, I’m not interested in many of the things that are interesting to screenwriters. (In my defense, that is a very

Lawyer

Getting paid to write is, at least for me, the best part of being a lawyer. But while I may be, strictly speaking, a “professional writer,” I’m very much aware of my shortcomings in that field. And I’ve got plenty, as illustrated by the fact that–not to put too fine a point on it–nobody

Longtime readers have suffered through my various thoughts, hangups, and neuroses about legal writing.

Prime among them is a frustration with the way lawyers confuse personal attacks with effective advocacy.

By way of example, I’m reading through the record in an appeal right now.

It has taken me less than 2 docket entries to get

One of the side benefits of my job is that every now and then, for reasons I can’t begin to understand, legal-writing books just show up in the mail. Sometimes they come to me, and sometimes they go to our librarian. Either way, I am compelled to drop everything I’m doing to read them immediately.