LawProse Lesson #309: Communicative fervor.
Communicative fervor. That’s the answer to the question, What quality do most legal writers lack? Communicative fervor. To get your point across, you must ardently want to do so. Passionately. Fervently. That means understanding how readers will see the message—and this in turn requires psychological insight. It’s no mean feat to be understandable to others. Look at the opening paragraphs of your last brief, in the cold light of whatever time has passed since you filed it. Read it as a stranger might. That’s how you can begin to assess its communicative effectiveness. Read it as if you were someone else—someone unfamiliar with the dispute in which you’ve become embroiled. At the outset have you stated the problem clearly to this stranger? Coolly and without disparagement of your adversary? There are many, many aspects to communicative fervor. Bryan Garner explores them all in his acclaimed book The Winning Brief. This summer, he comes to your desktop in ten sessions to teach all 100 sections of The Winning Brief. Of course, don’t bother with the webinar if you don’t have the time or inclination to improve your communications with judges. But if you want to be more effective in your motion practice and appellate briefs. No matter how seasoned and skilled you already are, you’ll pick up enough new pointers that you’ll kick yourself for not getting them sooner.