LawProse Lesson #344: Ginsburg on Good Writing.

LawProse Lesson #344: Ginsburg on Good Writing.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was known for her clear, powerful prose. She learned how to write—how to write really well—from two undergraduate teachers at Cornell: Robert E. Cushman and Vladimir Nabokov. That’s right. In a 2006 interview with Bryan A. Garner, Justice Ginsburg explained that Nabokov “was a man in love with the sound of words.” He taught her “the importance of choosing the right word and presenting it in the right word order.” 13 Scribes J. Legal Writing 133, 135 (2010).

Then she wrote the splendid foreword to the anthology of essays Garner on Language and Writing (2009). There she wrote: “Lawyers serve their clients best when their readers can quickly and firmly grasp their points. Readers of legal writing, on and off the bench, often work under the pressure of a relentless clock. They may lack the time to ferret out bright ideas buried in complex sentences, overlong paragraphs, or too many pages. Strong arguments can escape attention when embedded in dense or Delphic prose. Lucid, well-ordered writing can contribute immeasurably to a lawyer’s success as an advocate and counselor.” (P. xiii.)

Justice Ginsburg also noted that she had “benefited from the wise and practical aid afforded by Bryan Garner’s style manuals, usage dictionaries, and other works.” (Id.) She called his writing “a model of precision, elegance, and clarity.” (Id.)

This fall, Garner is dedicating his courses to the memory of his friend Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

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.

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