LawProse Lesson 351: The Power of Quantified Enumerations

It’s surprising how often advocates say a court should do something and then fail to adequately orient their readers to their arguments. Three pitfalls pervade modern advocacy. The most serious is just launching into a discussion. “Jenkins erroneously relies on McCallister v. Blaine.” Talk, talk, talk. No signposts. Readers feel as if they’re drifting at sea. …

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LawProse Lesson 348: “Good Grammar”: My Father’s Dream Part II

My father dreams of “good grammar” once again being taught in schools. He thinks it to be part of the American dream: an aspiration available to everyone. But “good grammar” in the eyes of one person is, in the eyes of another, unacceptable intolerance toward linguistic variation. So a consensus in educational approach seems unlikely. …

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LawProse Lesson 347: My Father’s Dream

My 90-year-old father, bless him, got upset yesterday upon reading a Washington Post piece saying that the Trump campaign is careening toward election day. He was incensed because he thought it should have said careering toward election day. Career, you see, has traditionally meant “to move wildly at full speed,” while careen has meant “to tip to one side while moving slowly.” He …

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LawProse Lesson #345: Presidential-Debate Bingo.

The modes of argument are as old as civilization: the ancient Greeks and Romans devised names for various rhetorical devices. Appeal to the pocketbook? The technical term is argumentum ad crumenam. Appeal to pity? It’s argumentum ad misericordiam. Use of rebuke or reproach? It’s epiplexis. A totally unsupported assertion? It’s an ipse dixit. The invocation of a looming catastrophe? …

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Presidential-Debate Bingo: The Thinking Person’s Guide to Watching the 2020 Debates

Print bingo cards for yourself, your family members, and your friends. You’ll be monitoring the contenders’ modes of argument. It’s a great way to teach high schoolers and college students—and for others to hone their critical thinking. Professor Garner will be live-tweeting the September 29 debate to call the bingo numbers: @BryanAGarner. You’ll be listening …

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LawProse Lesson #341: A Lesson from Professor Lawrence Friedman.

In April, the acclaimed legal historian Lawrence Friedman of Stanford Law School celebrated his 90th birthday. We applaud his many contributions to legal literature. In 1993, Friedman wrote an essay for the Scribes Journal of Legal Writing, at the invitation of its founding editor, Bryan A. Garner. Here’s part of what Professor Friedman said then: Style …

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