LawProse Lesson #256: Strategies with Names.
Strategies with Names. Is it true that in a brief, you should use your client’s name for personalization and call your opponent by a legal label (e.g. “defendant”) for depersonalization? No—almost never. This “advice” is almost invariably unsound. Would it be better to call Cruella De Ville “Antagonist”? No: she’s memorably Cruella. Bad facts about a party opponent will stick to a name. If you want to write vividly, with impact, the characters in your stories need names—not generic labels that make your brief disappear into the morass of dull briefs that await every bleary-eyed judge and law clerk. In any event, the rhetorical ruse of calling your client by name but the other party by a legal label can make you look bad in the reader’s eyes. Further reading: The Winning Brief 243–50 (3d ed. 2014). Legal Writing in Plain English 57–59 (2d ed. 2013). Making Your Case: The Art of Persuading Judges 120–22 (2008).