LawProse Lesson #156: The biggest mistake in motion practice.

LawProse Lesson #156: The biggest mistake in motion practice.

The biggest mistake in motion practice. What’s the biggest mistake commonly made in motion practice? It’s getting off to a bad start, typically with a repugnant paragraph containing cumbersome boilerplate and parenthetical definitions that insult the judge’s intelligence. A brief that gets off to a bad start is a bad brief. There is no recovering. A good start, by contrast, coolly and logically states the problem to be decided — in a way that subtly leads to a win for the party filing or opposing the motion. Sad to say, but it’s a rare sight outside LawProse circles. The LawProse rule: you must say on page one — in the opening paragraph — why you win. And you must do it in plain English that any nonlawyer can understand without having to read further. That’s what we teach, and we give innumerable examples. Successful ones. For further reading: The Winning Brief 53-73 (2d ed. 2004; 3d ed. forthcoming). Antonin Scalia & Bryan A. Garner, Making Your Case: The Art of Persuading Judges 25-26 (2008). Garner on Language and Writing 108-10; 126-30 (2009). The Elements of Legal Style 181-82 (2d ed. 2002). Legal Writing in Plain English 69-78 (2d ed. 2013).

Live seminars this year with Professor Bryan A. Garner: Advanced Legal Writing & Editing

Attend the most popular CLE seminar of all time. More than 215,000 people—including lawyers, judges, law clerks, and paralegals—have benefited since the early 1990s. You'll learn the keys to professional writing and acquire no-nonsense techniques to make your letters, memos, and briefs more powerful.

You'll also learn what doesn't work and why—know-how gathered through Professor Garner's unique experience in training lawyers at the country's top law firms, state and federal courts, government agencies, and Fortune 500 companies.

Professor Garner gives you the keys to make the most of your writing aptitude—in letters, memos, briefs, and more. The seminar covers five essential skills for persuasive writing:

  • framing issues that arrest the readers' attention;
  • cutting wordiness that wastes readers' time;
  • using transitions deftly to make your argument flow;
  • quoting authority more effectively; and
  • tackling your writing projects more efficiently.

He teaches dozens of techniques that make a big difference. Most important, he shows you what doesn't work—and why—and how to cultivate skillfulness.

Register to reserve your spot today.

Have you wanted to bring Professor Garner to teach your group? Contact us at for more information about in-house seminars.

Scroll to Top