LawProse Lesson #199: Persuasive openers.
Persuasive openers. Almost all poorly written motions and briefs have one thing in common: they get off to a bad start. They have no clear, boldly expressed point. They’re mushy. How to fix that problem? Say on page one—in plain English that anyone can understand—what problem the court is to resolve, how, and why. Page one. No turning of the page necessary. No ad hominem. No slighting of opponents. Just cold, hard logic—with a couple of salient facts. Impossible, you say? Not at all. But it takes a good deal of know-how and technique. If you need examples, get the Advanced Legal Writing & Editing coursebook by attending sometime this spring: we’re coming to a city near you. If you can’t, check out the third edition of The Winning Brief: 100 Tips for Persuasive Briefing in Trial and Appellate Courts (2014). You’ll find dozens of compelling examples there.