LawProse Lesson #315: Judging Motions: Part 3.
Over the past two weeks, we’ve seen that the first two criteria in assessing the quality of motions and responses are to examine page 1 and the point headings. Now for the third. Step 3 is the fresh conclusion. It should be a short, punchy summary that doesn’t merely repeat what’s been said before. It should be a freshly written closer that keeps the reader’s interest. It should be fully comprehensible on its own. That’s the way it should be. But it hardly ever is. Most conclusions are rote sentences that simply send the reader back to the middle part of the motion (“For all the foregoing reasons,” or “Wherefore, premises considered”). Those are the closing words beloved of so-called “generic lawyers.” What percentage of motions and responses do well when judged by this standard for gauging conclusions? Less than 3%. What?! You’re offended? Please don’t be. I didn’t call you a generic lawyer. Perhaps I just suggested that you might have a bad habit you should think about breaking. Further reading: Legal Writing in Plain English 71 (2d ed. 2013). Making Your Case: The Art of Persuading Judges 37–38, 100–01 (2008). The Winning Brief 143–47 (3d ed. 2014).