LawProse Lesson #401 The Art that Conceals Art

LawProse Lesson #401 The Art that Conceals Art

A highly effective piece of writing—this includes legal writing—uses the resources of language so efficiently that readers are unconscious of manner and become aware only of matter. With a brief or motion, judicial readers readily perceive the argument, and the basis for it, without ever being baffled—and without even thinking that they’re reading an argument. Ideally, the questions that occur to them as they read are immediately answered.

In persuasive writing, you must keep in mind two things:

  1. The primary legal issues, which if well framed will be intrinsically interesting regardless of the subject.
  2. Explanatory matter, which keeps readers constantly aware of the primary legal issues.

The chief problem is to appeal immediately to readers’ curiosity and to sustain it through the end of your submission.

All this takes artistry, but it shouldn’t be apparent: it’s the art that conceals art.

Further reading:
Garner, Legal Writing in Plain English 73–77 (2d ed. 2013).
Garner, The Winning Brief 309–12 (3d ed. 2014).
Scalia & Garner, Making Your Case 25–26, 107–08 (2008).

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